If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to get more exercise, why not engage the help of a personal trainer — of the four-legged variety?
Dogs get you off the couch and exercising, which means improved health for both you and your pooch. Research backs this up. People with pets make fewer trips to the doctor, are less likely to need heart medication and have improved psychological well-being than non-owners. Like humans, animals enjoy physical activity for its own sake — they like to play.
Craig Naherniak, humane education manager for the BC SPCA points out that dogs requires lots of daily exercise — depending on age and breed, one to two hours is appropriate. Some high-energy breeds, such as border collies and Jack Russell terriers, require more exercise than others so it is important to tailor your exercise program to your dog's breed. “Small dogs with short legs require less walking distance than larger breeds,” says Naherniak. “Some short nosed breeds, such as Pekingese, may experience breathing difficulties while exercising, so frequent, shorter walks are best.”
There are numerous benefits to exercising your dog: “Fit dogs are more alert and content. They sleep better, have more energy and fewer socialization problems. Regular exercise helps dogs build strong bones, improves cardiovascular systems, and tones muscles. Active dogs also tend to live longer,” says Naherniak. If distance running is your forte, make sure you choose a suitable breed. “Most dogs are ‘stop-start’ runners — they do best running for short bursts followed by walking. For most dogs, a long walk is more appropriate exercise than a run,” adds Naherniak.
The BC SPCA reminds all dog guardians to not exercise dogs by leashing them to a motor vehicle. ”We also don’t recommend people tether their dogs to a bicycle, skateboard or rollerblade, particularly in an urban setting,” says Naherniak. “It is impossible to safely control the many distractions of other dogs, pedestrians and cars which put your dog and other people at risk.” He notes that designated off-leash areas are the safest places to play.
The British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is a not-for-profit organization reliant on public donations. Our mission is to protect and enhance the quality of life for domestic, farm and wild animals in B.C.