Many behavior and health problems in dogs stem from them not getting enough exercise. This includes:
- Chewing things up around the house due to separation anxiety if nobody human is home
- Being hyperactive
- …and many more problems.
How much exercise is your dog getting at present? Different breeds vary and within breeds, individual dogs vary in how much they need. I think of a terrier that my husband and I took care of for a few days while its owner took a trip. She needed a huge amount of activity, way more than the hound and the herding dog we had at the time. And border collies are famous for needing to run a lot.
It’s not really about size: some large breeds are more naturally couch potato material than some lively smaller breeds.
But as a general rule of thumb, a good minimum is a two periods of activity of 15 to 30 minutes every day. This can be going for a walk or jog with you, playing at a dog park, playing ball with you, or whatever works for you both. Many small dogs can get a lot of exercise just playing indoors. On the other hand, many active dogs may need more than an hour of exercise.
As ever, seeing a change you’d like to make and actually creating more of a habit are two different things. If you’d like to increase the amount of exercise that your dog gets, making it a priority every day this week will get you off to a good start in creating a better habit.
It isn’t just dogs…
With overweight at epidemic proportions in our society, it may be that you too could benefit from more exercise. There is a lot of evidence that we humans have more energy, metabolize our food better, sleep better, and improve our immune systems by regular outdoor exercise. Admittedly, winter has its own challenges. But one way or another, if you find ways to give your dog more exercise, include yourself if you can.
For myself, I do some exercise just about every day, mostly walking, using a little rebounder, stretching, and gardening. I use a pedometer too, which I like. It helps me realize the toll those long days at the computer take on my body. Now I take short walking breaks.
This seems to work for me for similar reasons to why clicker training works — just as the sound of the clicker says YES! to a dog, higher numbers at the end of a day on the pedometer say YES! to me. And that makes both me and my dog happier, as my dogs do benefit from my increased exercise. I often do clicker training while I am exercising in the yard.