Thursday, March 31, 2011

Is Your Dog Getting Enough Exercise? (Part 2)

Part 2: Fitting Exercise into Your Schedule
As I mentioned in Part 1, it is easy to forget to include your dog in your daily routine.  Life gets busy trying to balance work, school, sports practice, P.T.A., church activities, quality family time, and a social life.   It is easy to let the dog fall down the list of priorities, but just because they are not constantly barking at you for attention doesn’t mean you should take them for granted.  Dogs were born and bred to work, but most of us are no longer living rural lives.  Herding and hunting and is now defined as chasing birds and hunting lizards, which they rarely ever catch.  They need daily exercise and mental stimulation to live a happy and well-balanced life. 
I know it is hard to get in the habit of exercising your dog every day.  I have tried to get creative by incorporating my dog’s exercise into my daily routine, but there is only so much you can do without actually setting the time aside to walk your dog.  
Here is a list of some activities you can do with your dog:
Walking- Adding a doggy backpack for the dog to carry weights while walking puts a small spin on the traditional walk and gives the dog a more intense workout.
Agility- Provides great mental stimulus as well as physical exercise.
Running or Jogging- If you like to run, your pup would love to come with you.
Bike Rides- Great exercise for larger, high energy dogs but should be done with safety in mind first.  It is dangerous to bike with shy and unpredictable dogs or to bike in areas with heavy traffic.  
Fetching- Any object that your dog loves to chase will work.  Even if your dog isn’t a natural retriever you can train them.  
Swimming- If your dog loves water, take advantage.  Swimming is a great exercise and good way for overweight or injured dogs to get exercise without putting all the stress on their joints.
Hide and Seek- Hiding toys around the house is a great way to engage your dog mentally but it also encourages them to use their natural tracking and hunting skills.
Racing- I like to race my dogs myself but you may consider entering your pup in an organized race.  There are regular Dachshund races every year for Oktoberfest.
Weight Pulling- This may take a little bit of training but weight pulling, like mushing, will give your dog purpose and tire them out more quickly.
Running on a Treadmill- The treadmill at home is a great way to get your pup the recommended amount of exercise, and Cesar Millan recommends it if you can’t fit regular activity with your dog into your day.
Puzzle Dog Toys- A great way to keep the dog busy while you are at work is a toy that will stimulate their mind.  There are a lot of dog toys on the market that make dogs work to figure out how to release a treat.
Training- Teaching your dog a trick is beneficial in two ways because it stimulates their mind and teaches them good behavior.  Training should only be done in short segments, 10-15 minutes at a time, otherwise your dog will probably lose interest and you will become frustrated.
 And while these are not the only exercise options out there, they are a start.  The hardest part is usually finding the motivation and the time to exercise your dog.  It takes 21 consecutive days to form a habit.  If you need help in this find a support group.  Enlist family and friends or find other dog lovers in your city to help keep you motivated.  Ask friends to walk with you and your dog daily so you have an accountability buddy to make sure you go regularly.  Get the kids involved by scheduling a little one-on-one time with them and the dog.  Schedule regular play dates with another dog in town or at the dog park.  If you are going on a hike, camping, or on road trip take your dog with you.   Your dog will thank you for their new life by being better behaved and making your life easier in return.
 Remember, exercise isn’t just beneficial for your dog, it’s beneficial for you too.  I know several people who have been told by their doctor that they need to start doing 30 minutes of steady cardio each day (and walking around the office doesn’t count).  So for your health and your dogs I encourage you to get out and exercise! 
Get creative with your dogs exercise regiments while keeping in mind that dogs thrive on teamwork and activities with purpose.  If you have a great idea on incorporating exercise for your dog in your busy day please share!

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