Exercising your dog is one of the most important things you can do for their overall health and well being. Scrap that, it is essential.
We are all aware of the health benefits of physical activity in humans and dogs reap similar benefits.
- Improved cardiovascular health
- Improved muscle strength and tone
- Reduced behavioural issues
- Prevention of obesity and associated health risk
- Improved metabolism
- Reduced digestive problems
… to name a few.
Amos is an extremely energetic and athletic dog; therefore, physical exercise is essential for him. But something I was unaware of was the benefits of mental stimulation and enrichment for dogs of which I will discuss later.
I try to get up and get Amos going first thing in the morning as this reduces any unwanted destructive behaviours during the day.
The types of physical exercise I do with Amos include:
- Swimming – at our local creek or the beach
- Playing with the hose
- Meet up with friends
- Tricks training
- Loose Lead Walking
I think variety and diversity are also crucial for a dog’s optimum health, so I love changing it up for Amos and myself.
Taking your dog for a walk is one of the most accessible yet most enjoyable forms of exercise you can do with your dog.
Along with improved muscle strength and endurance, walking your dog with also help strengthen the human bond and build trust.
Amos and I love taking walks together and there is nothing I love more than when Amos stops to look up at me. I feel like the best dog mum ever seeing his smile and his joy.
Amos gets distracted exceptionally easily and also gets overwhelmed in social situations. Loose lead walking is a form of mental stimulation for Amos as well as reaping the physical benefits of his walk.
But please always allow your dog to stop and sniff as they need it. One of my pet peeves is when I see a dog trying to sniff and its owner quickly pulling it along and not allowing them to smell. Remember, dogs learn about the world through smell, so please let them smell.
It’s not your walk; it’s your dog’s walk. Yes, you will also reap the health benefits of walking with your dog, but if you want to push the pace and get yourself a workout, find another time for yourself.
Amos loves swimming and I am so glad that we taught him to swim because when we adopted him, he hated water. Swimming is an excellent form of exercise for all dogs but in particular for overweight dogs, elderly dogs, or dogs with arthritis because it is low impact. It is also a fantastic way to keep cool in summer and have some fun.
Have you also noticed how tired your dog gets after swimming? Swimming is a total body workout!
As previously mentioned, keeping your dogs mind active and healthy is just as important as physical exercise. How I provide mental stimulation for Amos is in the form of enrichment toys and nose work.
Nose work encourages your dog to use their natural hunting drive and their incredible sense of smell to pick up scents and locate the scents.
Nose work is great for all dogs but in particular reactive, shy and hyperactive dogs. It allows them to focus on the task at hand, to tolerate the presence of other dogs and become more comfortable within their surroundings.
So how do we do it:
- Playing “Find It” indoors and outdoors
- Loose lead walks and allowing your dogs to smell
- Hiding a treat in one box among many
- Snuffle Mats
We would love to take a Nose Work course in the future and if you google search, I am sure you would find something close to you.
Amos never gets fed out of a bowl and always has to work for his treats. Why? Because firstly I want to slow him down as he eats way to quick and secondly I want him to use his brain and keep him busy.
Every afternoon after our play, I use 1-2 enrichment toys to help Amos calm down from playtime but also give him the mental stimulation he needs.
Amos loves it, and I find it fascinating to watch his brain work and figure out how to get the treats out of his toy.
Please note that when you first start you need to supervise to help teach your dog how to use the toy and prevent frustration. Once your dog gets the hang of it, this won’t be essential
So tell me what is your favourite form of exercise to do with your dog? Do you do much mental stimulation with your dog? Let me know in the comments below!
My name is Mel and I am the proud dog mum of Amos Pearce. We live in Brisbane, Australia and just love adventuring though life together. Growing up, I used to hate dogs but after being diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, I started to see dogs in a different way. Now I like to think of myself as the ultimate Dog Mum and I love it! I honestly can’t imagine life without Amos. Amos is a rescue from RSPCA Queensland and a proud RSPCA Furbassador. Together we share our most precious moments with you all as part of one big awesome life journey. Our little family rocks!