Providing regular exercise is one of the many responsibilities owning a dog brings with it. Here is why dogs must have exercise.
Why Dogs Must Have Exercise
When dogs are left in the house or back garden, day after day, all day long, they do tend to go a little “mad” and can start displaying unwanted behaviours that can be annoying at best and downright dangerous at worst. The reason this happens is simple: these dogs are getting frustrated due to not getting any exercise.
If my dogs go a single day without exercise, I can already see a difference in them – so if a dog goes without exercise for weeks or even months at a time, it is, plainly speaking, starting to freak out.
Some time ago, I was asked to work with a German Shepherd mix, a dog who attacked her sleeping owner. This 9-year-old dog could easily hike for 2 hours first thing in the morning, then spend 2 or 3 hours on the treadmill and still be the first to balls at playtime.
She became a problem because her need to work was not fulfilled. German Shepherds are working dogs bred to work between 8 and 10 hours a day – yet she was expected to spend most of her time cooped up in the house.
When a dog’s needs are not fulfilled, it will eventually fulfil them itself. Dogs that become aggressive due to frustration are among the most dangerous cases and sadly frequently become so-called “red zone” cases.
Making sure your dog is fulfilled and doesn’t get to this potentially dangerous level of frustration means you MUST take him/her for walks EVERY DAY.
Day cares and dog parks are a good idea, but there’s nothing quite like proper, long walks for burning off energy.
How Much Exercise Your Dog Needs
If you want your dog to be balanced, happy and well behaved, you must exercise both his body and mind every day – and a proper walk does both. How long you should walk for depends on your dog’s energy level and health (and not, as many believe, his age).
A high-energy, healthy dog can walk up to as much as 10 miles at a shot with ease. You must therefore start with one to two hours’ worth of exercise per day. Dogs with lower energy levels can obviously get away with less than that.
Benefits of Exercising Your Dog
In addition to fulfilling your dog’s needs and subsequently preventing him becoming frustrated and “badly behaved” or even aggressive, walking your dog regularly also helps strengthen and deepen the relationship you have with him. Growth of your leader/follower relationship is, in fact, one of the primary benefits of properly exercising your pet.
Naturally, it is important to ensure you are always in front when walking your dog, because whoever happens to be in front is, in your dog’s eyes, in charge.
Does your dog pull? The reason dogs pull is usually because they are allowed to do so. You must communicate boundaries and rules when walking your dog, because otherwise, you are telling him that there are no rules.