Our dogs’ bodies weren’t designed to just lounge around the house to watch hours of a CSI marathon on TV all day Sunday with us. Dogs are natural hunters, herders, chasers and all around go-getters. They need to be active almost as much as they need to breathe.
So when we don’t give our pups what their body craves, physical activity, then we are hindering their instinct to be active. In turn, when we don’t encourage our dogs to be active, we’re also missing out on an opportunity to get and keep our own selves in shape.
There are countless benefits for a pet owner to own an active dog. The most obvious includes better health for the owner and the pup. First and foremost, regular exercise helps dogs and their owners lose or maintain weight. When you run and play with your dog on a daily basis, the cardio benefits to both man and man’s best friend are too numerous to count. Strong digestive systems, healthy bones and muscles and better agility are also benefits to both of you.
Remember, in order for an active dog to benefit the owner, you have to choose activities that both of you can participate in. There is no benefit to the owner who puts her dog out in the backyard and expects him to run and play on his own.
No one will be getting exercise with this scenario.
Other than the obvious health benefits, here are a few more reasons to put the remote down and grab a ball or Frisbee and put your dog on his leash.
Active dogs are less likely to exhibit bad behavior problems because they are regularly burning the energy that’s usually the source of that type of behavior. That means less digging, chewing expensive shoes, scratching couches, jumping on your in-laws when they hit the door, roughhousing and running on all cylinders while everyone else is preparing to go to bed. The more you engage in physical activity with your dog, the less interest he has in participating in or initiating destructive behaviors.
Another benefit to having an active dog is the fact that you’ll both sleep better at night. When it’s time to wind down in the evening, your dog will be tired too and will relish the chance to get some shuteye after a day of using up valuable energy. And we all know how important it is for humans to get enough sleep at night to function at our best during the day.
Exercise is also good for the mental well-being of both dogs and their owners. Studies show that regular activity is a key factor in reducing stress in pet parents. But it also helps shy dogs gain confidence and shake their feelings of fear.
Here’s the fun part. Active dogs make it easier to have a thriving social life. When owners and their dogs play in parks and participate in doggie play dates, they have a chance to form bonds with other two-legged and four-legged friends – even some of the opposite sex for single pet parents.