Regular exercise is just as important for pets as it is for human beings. Not only
does it help keep their weight under control, but it keeps their joints supple and
their heart healthy.
Regular exercise benefits for pets include:
Reduction in undesirable behaviors including chewing, barking, jumping up,
and being predatory.
Maintaining your pets’ weight.
Helping your dog to unwind and sleep better at night.
Keeping your dog healthy and mobile.
Reduction in constipation and digestive problems.
Building a rapport with your pet and gaining their trust.
In recent years humans have adopted a more sedentary lifestyle, and our pets are
following suit. However in order for our pets to live a long, happy and healthy
life you need to ensure that activity is worked into their routine. Here is our
guide to helping your pet get more exercise.
Exercise for Dogs
Until the start of the 20 th century dogs were primarily bred to work in a range of
areas, for example military, farming, search and rescue and sensory support.
Whilst some dogs still do work, the majority of them are now couch potatoes
where they are provided with food and water and spend the majority of their
time in a confined space. Their naturally active tendencies are fading and they
are becoming lazy.
Dogs who do not have enough exercise can exhibit some undesirable behavior
Destructive: chewing, scratching and digging
Hyperactive: extreme excitability, jumping up etc
Play biting / rough play: your dog may nip you regularly when playing
Investigative tendencies: this can include garbage raiding
Predatory: your pet may get very territorial
Vocalization: increased barking, whining and other attention seeking sounds
Many people believe that access to a garden or yard counts as exercise, but
unless you have the equivalent of a football field outside then it is not enough.
Your dog will also doesn’t want to exercise alone. Interaction with him is the
key to getting him moving.
It doesn’t have to mean running for miles either. As long as your dog is moving
and his heart rate is increasing then it counts as exercise!
However before you start your pet off on a regular exercise routine there are a
few things that you should take into consideration.
Dogs exercise needs vary depending on their breed and size.
Sustained jogging or running can be problematic for larger dogs as they
are naturally more likely to suffer from cruciate ligament injuries such as
hip dysplasia or arthritis.
Sustained jogging or running is also not recommended for dogs under 18
months of age as their bones haven’t finished growing.
Brachycephalic breeds (those with short or flat noses) can struggle with
their breathing during vigorous exercise, particularly if the temperatures
Ideally you should always consult with your veterinarian before beginning any
regular exercise with your pet.
What sort of exercise can I do with my dog?
Almost all dogs will benefit from at least one half hour long walk per day.
Ideally try and take him at the same time every day. This helps your pet to get
into a routine and is also beneficial for helping your dog know what time of day
he will get to empty his bladder/bowels.
If your dog is sociable then look into a local agility group or class. These can be
quite competitive and intense but they provide a great workout for your pet and
are a good way for you to make new friends too. Some of the activities that your
pet will do are good for developing new skills too. Your veterinarian should be
able to advise you how to find your nearest group.
You can’t beat a game of fetch. Simple, effective and you don’t need to go too
far. If the weather is poor then you can even play it indoors if you have enough
If you live near a lake, river or beach then take your dog swimming. It is
particularly good exercise for dogs with arthritis as it is gentle on their joints. If
your dog is reluctant to get into the water, start by encouraging him to chase a
ball or toy into the shallows.
Play hide and seek. It is just as important for your pet to exercise their brain as
well as their body. Hide and seek is a light physical activity that stimulates your
pets cognitive abilities.
REMEMBER: never let your dog off of his leash is you are not confident that
he will return to you when called.