Increase Your Dog’s Daily Dose of Exercise with These Simple Tips

exercise dogAs a pet parent, your dog’s health is your responsibility. And an integral part of keeping your pooch healthy is providing him or her with sufficient exercise. We all know walking has the best benefits for overall health in humans, but what about for our canine companions?

It just so happens your dog’s primal need is to walk! Just as horses need to run and squirrels need to climb, dogs need to walk; it’s in their DNA. Sure, letting Rover run around the backyard can be good exercise, it is no substitute for taking him for a walk. Activities like time in the yard, visiting the dog park and playing catch in the house don’t offer the same mental stimulation your dog gets by investigating every sight, sound and smell when you take him for a walk. As you and your dog walk, he’s gathering information about how his territory has changed since the last time he was there, and taking him to new locations generates a sensory excitement like no other.

So how can you find time in your busy day to give Rover the walking wonderfulness he so craves and deserves? It’s simple ~ find a way to include him in your plans!

In the mood for some window shopping? While you obviously can’t bring Rover with you when you visit the mall, you can take him along for some window shopping in your favorite downtown area or outdoor shopping plaza. As long as he’s well-behaved and securely leashed, you should have no objections from shop owners, fellow shoppers or authority figures as Rover stays by your side as you take in the window views.

Need to chat with your neighbor? Rather than pick up the phone and call your neighbor two streets over to ask if she wants to join you for dinner, throw a leash on Rover so the two of you can walk over to ask in person. It may not equate to a long walk, but a short walk is better than nothing!

Heading to your parent’s house for a family get together? Even if their home isn’t within walking distance from your home, you can still drive and get some stroll time in by parking at a nearby restaurant or store and walking the rest of the way.

Need to pick up a few things from your local grocery store? Enlist a family member or friend to join you and Rover on a walk to the store, where your people partner can take care of Rover while you’re inside picking up what you need.

Is a trip to the hardware store on your weekend to-do list? Take Rover along for the ride, then leash him up and bring him inside. Many hardware stores allow dogs (ever notice the woman at Lowe’s pushing her puffy Pomeranian around in the cart?), so take advantage and bring Rover with you on your next visit (check with the store first, of course!). Either before or after your shopping spree, walk him around the grounds for some extra exercise and mental stimulation.

Craving some ice cream? Most ice cream shops have outdoor seating and welcome dogs. Some will even give Rover a complementary doggy sundae! If you live within walking distance of an ice cream shop, take Rover over for a special treat; if not, drive most of the way and park within a mile or so, then walk the remainder of the way.

Whatever your daily plans, chances are there’s one way or another to include your precious pooch in a way that will allow for some extra activity. Not only will an impromptu walk in undiscovered territory be a thrill for your pooch’s senses, but it will also enhance your already strong bond.

Socializing Your Adult Dog

dogSocialization does not end after puppyhood. While it is ideal for the foundation for acceptable behavior to be laid early on (pups are most adaptable between three and twelve weeks of age), continuous encouragement and reinforcement is a must. But what if you were lax in the socialization department when Bella was a baby, or you adopted Angus when he was four years old… is it too late for them to learn? Absolutely not! Most canine behaviors can be positively impacted with effort, time and – most importantly – patience.

Just as socialization among humans is important, teaching us how to get along with others, it is also vital for your canine companion. Proper socialization teaches her how to respond in a healthy way to things that may make her anxious or afraid, such as people, other animals, noises and objects. Help your adult dog become confident and friendly with the following exercises.

Family First

Your family is your dog’s pack; the group with whom she will spend most of her time. The safer and more comfortable your dog feels at home, the less fearful and anxious she will be. When welcoming a new, adult dog to your pack, keep attention and affection set at a slow yet consistent pace. You don’t want to overwhelm her or, on the other end of the spectrum, invite separation anxiety to develop. In the beginning, it’s better to have a slightly bored dog than one who is over-stimulated. Spend a few weeks to allow your furry friend to build a bond with her pack. In this time, do not introduce her to anyone outside her pack, or take her to any new places.

Introduce New People Slowly

Try to introduce your dog to only one new person each week. If your pooch is aggressive, it’s best to keep her on a leash during introductions, until she becomes familiar and settles down. On the other hand, when introducing a nervous or timid pooch, let her take her time approaching her new friend when she sees fit. Upon meeting, have the visitor speak in a happy, low tone and offer your pooch a treat, imprinting the interaction as a positive one.

Visit the Dog Park

It is important for your adult dog to develop a well-balanced behavior around other dogs; you don’t want her to be too ambivalent or too aggressive. After her first few weeks alone with her human pack, leash her up and take her to the local dog park. But… stay outside the fence, giving her an opportunity to smell the smells, see the sites, hear the sounds… get accustom to her surroundings. Each time a dog comes to the fence to check her out, give her verbal praise and a treat to make the experience a positive one. It may take just a few visits, or a dozen, but once you feel she is comfortable with her surroundings, and confident she will interact well, take her inside for some more personal interaction.

Enroll Her in Class

If your own training techniques fall short, or it seems your adult dog is just set in her ways, enlist a professional trainer to help. Not only an obedience class a great way to socialize her with other dogs and people, it will also teach you both learning commands that can make the socialization experience a more comfortable and successful one.