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April Was Active Dog Month!

By May 2, 2024 Blog Post

Have you been out with your dog for a stroll? Walks are an excellent way to improve your dog’s overall health and their mental well-being. For that matter, those walks will improve YOUR overall health and mental well-being. Good evidence is available that walking helps keep off excess weight, lowers blood pressure and provides a healthy dose of good fresh air.

First, you need to determine how much walking your dog needs. Different breeds have different exercise needs. Our little toy breeds, Yorkies and Papillons, need much less exercise than our herding breeds like Aussies and Border Collies. But breed isn’t everything, dogs have individual preferences as well. Exercise can greatly improve behavioral problems like anxiety, separation anxiety and destructive behavior. Be cautious with the brachycephalic breeds (Pugs, Boxer, Frenchies, etc) as they are susceptible to overheating and heat stroke.

Age of your dog is also a strong determinant of exercise needs. Young dogs are more energetic and need more exercise while middle aged and older dogs tend to develop osteoarthritis and other diseases that make them crave exercise less. Some exercise, though, is still beneficial for older dogs. Monitor your dog’s desire to keep going and let him tell you when enough is enough.

If your dog is not going as far as you think he should, start working to increase his exercise tolerance. Take it easy at first and gradually increase the time and distance of your walks. Making your walks an enjoyable time with your pet also helps.

If you are having trouble finding enough time in the day to get your dog walks all in, consider hiring a dog walker. An active, retired neighbor looking for companionship can be a great dog walker! Aim for at least a short walk daily or every other day. Playing catch in the year can also be a good exercise. There are many important reasons to walk your dog:

  • Boost your dogs Mood and Health – Exercise, mental stimulation and activity provide an outlet for energy and make both you and your pet happier and healthier.
  • Keep your dog fit – Obesity is a critical problem with our pets leading to many diseases such as osteoarthritis, diabetes, and other systemic diseases.
  • Strengthen your Bond with your Dog – Spending time with your dog improves their socialization and builds bonds with all your family members.
  • Provide Mental Stimulation – Training, puzzles and games will improve your dog’s mental health and prevent behavioral problems.
  • Counteract Behavioral Problems – Your dog is much less likely to exhibit destructive behaviors when they have spent their exercise in activities.
  • Encourage Better Sleep – Good exercise means better sleep, longer rest periods between activities and make evening walks even more enjoyable.


By Gail Colbern, DVM, MS, DACT

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