Exercise Breeds Happiness

*Exercise decreases anxiety in dogs, says Dr. Marilyn Southwind, a veterinarian and clinical instructor at the British Columbia University’s School of Veterinary Medicine.

“Because exercise decreases anxiety overall, lack of exercise can contribute to anxiety-based conditions,” she says. “More specifically, lack of exercise and mental stimulation can lead to attention-seeking and destructive behaviors.”

Also a nice side note : Pet owners who ensure their pets are active and not bored will be less likely to return home to a chewed-up couch.

*Unfortunately, we can’t completely prevent our pets from racking up the birthdays. But, as with humans, getting the proper amount of exercise can help keep your pet's mind sharp and ward off some age-related diseases, says Dr. Southwind. 

Active Joints Are Happy Joints

Safe, age-appropriate exercise is one of the best ways to ensure that your pet’s joints stay happy and healthy. Not only will a healthy weight prevent excess pressure, but exercise ensures that the joints stay lubricated while strengthening the supporting muscles, says Sarah Cremer, a licensed veterinary technician and a K9 trainer.

“Doctors say a sedentary lifestyle is the new smoking, and it’s similar with pets,” she says. “These are preventable problems.”

Before increasing your pet’s activity levels, Cremer suggests consulting with your veterinarian and, when out and about, thinking like a dog. For example, just because you love going for a long run on the beach doesn’t mean your Rottweiler will. Seashells can be painful on sensitive paws, and direct sun can quickly cause your big buddy to overheat.

Your Dog Needs a Job

Your dog may not have a credit card bill, but he still needs a job. Whether your dog’s ancestors were bred for hunting or herding, it’s important that he be able to act on his instincts—and unless you have a fox hunt on the calendar or a flock of sheep handy, that means providing engaging dog exercise opportunities.

“Dogs like to have a job,” says Cremer. “If a dog does not have a breed- and age-appropriate job, for example chasing a Frisbee, he’ll give himself a job, such as barking excessively at passersby or turning over the trash.”

The Mind Needs a Workout

A creative, thoughtful exercise routine doesn’t just provide a physical workout—it provides valuable mental stimulation as well. Introducing your pet to a new game or interactive workout will put his thinking cap on.

Have a smarty-pants in need of a challenge? Consider enriching games such as flyball or agility courses.

Your Pets Will Love You Better

Who’s a good boy? An exercised boy.

If you wish your pet would sit and stay with more enthusiasm, more interactive activity could be the key. When you spend time playing with your pet and teaching him new games, the relationship strengthens on all fronts and leads to more loving behavior.

“What you’re doing is building trust, and that carries over into general obedience,” says Cremer.