Why Exercise Is The Best Enrichment For Any Dog
Our guest columnist this week is Mark Walden. Mark is a dog trainer and writer who is passionate about animal welfare. Mark looks at the importance of exercise for your dog.
Modern life is changing how we live our lives on a daily basis, in short, we are eating more and moving less. Although it comes with it's own advantages we can see the effects among ourselves and even importantly – our pets.
Fuelled by high calorie biscuits, high fat and sugary processed foods it is certainly an epedemic among pets as well as people across the Western world. How do we try and tackle this? How do we prevent this from getting worse?
My best advice? Eat less, exercise more.
It comes as no surprise when I interact with those with agility dogs at various dog events such as Crufts and Discover Dogs there is one thing that sticks out for me – these dogs are always very healthy and happy, every single time. From German Shepherds to Collies and the odd Beagle and what's more delightful is that this reflects onto the owner as well. Is there a link between exercise and happiness? Definately, it doesn't take a room full of researchers to realise this!
Unfortunately this does not reflect the growing trend among my country in the UK. As of March 2014 three in four vets see believe that dog obesity is on the rise which agree that owners are not following the correct feeding guidelines and insufficent exercise. I must put my hand up and admit that I have occasionally fed my dogs the odd cooked sausage or leftover dinner nibbles but these must be controlled and given on extremely rare occasions as it is these foods that harm your dog the most.
Obesity does not just affect us as humans, it affects millions of pets out there. Obesity is a disease and like many out there, they can lead to further health complicates such as;
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Respiratory complications and distress
With dog activities I have always encouraged both kids and adults to take part in activities as it creats a truly unique bond with the dog and it embraces that true connection and partnership we have had with dogs for the last 15,000 years. It is incredably healthy for your heart and your head.
There are certain stages of your dogs life where their dietry requirements will change, it's important to identify this and to adapt their food, it is not simply a 'one size fits all' diet. These factors may include;
- Your dogs age (puppy, junior, adult and elderley)
- The breed of your dog
- The sexual development of your dog
- If you dog is sick or injured including stress including medication or supplements
- If your dog is used for working purposes (this may require additional protein)
There are plenty of good sources of information out there so you can find out exactly what your dog needs. Be sure to read the labels, use the correct measurements and visit your local vet or dog food nutritionist if you ever have doubts.
The same goes for exercise, each breed requires a different amount of exercise and it is important to understand this. A puppy or olderly dog will need far less exercise than an adult collie although in most cases they will never turn down an extra walk!
Fortunately we can control what we eat and monitor our health but dogs on the other hand cannot do this and it is up to us as owners to monitor their health and ensure they have a healthy lifestyle with plenty of exercise.
They say in the UK that if you look after the pennies the pounds will look after themselves – certainly in this case if you look after their weight in pounds, the dogs will look after themselves.
For more information on Mark please visit the following:-
Website - www.markwalden.org
Facebook - www.facebook.com/markrwalden
Twitter - www.twitter.com/MarkRWalden