Grab your dog’s leash and Frisbee—April is the month to get up and get moving! In honor of Canine Fitness Month, take a moment to check in with your pup’s health. Are they trim and fit, or do they lounge on the couch all day? Regardless, now is a good time to try fun new activities that bolster your dog’s physical abilities and quality of life.
Here’s how pet parents can show their pups some extra love during Canine Fitness Month.
Benefits of exercising your dog
Every dog needs exercise, no matter their age or health condition. Exercise gives your pup countless physical and mental benefits that lead to a longer, healthier life. The following are just a few of the reasons why your dog should get up and moving.
- Reduce their anxiety: Exercise is a wonderful stress reliever, both for humans and their furry companions. A rigorous play session can alleviate symptoms of separation anxiety by burning off pent-up energy. Playing with your pup right before leaving them at home will calm their mind and mitigate destructive behaviors. No more coming back to chewed furniture and ransacked garbage bins!
- Keep them mentally sharp: Dogs are always looking for a job, especially if their ancestors were bred to hunt game or herd sheep. Activities like fetch, obedience training and agility drills fulfill that need to do mental work. Tapping into their natural instincts also wards off the cognitive decline associated with a sedentary lifestyle.
- Promote joint health: Exercise is the best defense against obesity, a disease that’s very common among dogs of all ages. Keeping your dog at a healthy weight prevents unnecessary stress on their joints. As a result, your pup is less likely to develop arthritis and chronic joint pain in their senior years. Regular physical activity also lubricates the joints, improves mobility and strengthens the supporting ligaments.
- Avoid age-related diseases: As dogs get older, they become more susceptible to a whole range of chronic illnesses. Dogs living a sedentary lifestyle are prone to issues affecting the heart, kidneys, joints and liver. Pups that get regular exercise can drastically reduce their chances of developing health problems later in life.
How much exercise your dog needs
The amount of exercise your pup needs largely depends on their age, breed and health condition. Puppies are constantly bursting with energy, so they need several short but intense play sessions throughout the day. Adult dogs don’t need this much—two walks a day should suffice, although owners are encouraged to switch it up with the occasional game of fetch or another activity. Senior dogs are content with short walks and other low-impact exercises.
Low-energy breeds such as poodles and bulldogs can meet their exercise needs through brief walks and basic training. On the other hand, high-energy breeds like German shepherds and huskies require tug-of-war games, long hikes (preferably uphill) and vast spaces to run around.
Additionally, a healthy pup is more capable of rigorous activities than one with underlying concerns. For instance, your dog won’t be able to go for a run if they’re living with heart or respiratory problems. Choose low-impact sports for dogs with hip dysplasia and mobility issues, since sudden changes in direction may cause injury.
Fun ways to get your pup moving
Some dogs grow bored with the typical daily walk. Canine Fitness Month is the perfect excuse to try something new! Treat your pup to one or more of these activities throughout April:
- Scent work: This exercise hones your dog’s ability to find and retrieve hidden objects. Place treats around the house in places your pup can safely access. Scent work keeps them mentally stimulated, and their hard work ends with a reward!
- Flyball: Flyball is an exciting relay race where dogs team up to retrieve tennis balls as fast as possible. The sport is great for intelligent, high-energy dogs that crave a challenge. Plus, it’s an excellent opportunity to socialize them with other pups.
- Lure coursing: This sport taps into your dog’s natural instinct to hunt down prey. In lure coursing, the dog has to chase after a motorized object and catch it. The activity gives your pup a chance to zoom across expansive spaces and tucker themselves out from all the running.
April is a great time to kick off your furry companion’s new exercise regimen. Just remember to keep your dog active beyond Canine Fitness Month. Take the motivation you feel right now and carry it with you through all the years to come. A dog’s health is something pet parents should celebrate all the time!