Happy New Year! Many of us set resolutions for the upcoming year - often stuff like eat healthier, exercise more, and spend more time with the family. How about including our dogs and cats in this year's resolutions? Exercise, in particular, has wonderful benefits for our pets (and for us!) ... and a New Year's resolution could be to exercise with the dog or cat every day.
It can be tough, no doubt: wintry days, windy days, rainy days, or days that are too hot make it less than enticing to go for a walk, even if the dog is giving you that eager puppy-eyed look. Then there are days where we're late and too rushed to walk the dog before work, and too tired and cranky after work. Exercising a pet doesn't have to a burden - even shorter 'play' sessions or walks can be a lot of fun and beneficial to your pet. Here are some reasons why regular exercise is good for pets too.
Exercise helps to reduce unwanted behaviours.
Pets get bored too. They spend a great deal of time waiting for us... waiting for us to get home, waiting for us to give them some attention, waiting to be fed, waiting to be walked. Pets will find a way to relieve the boredom - whether it's climbing the drapes, digging through the trash, or gnawing on those fun-looking shoes.
Exercise gives pets a way to release their excess energy. Aside from keeping your home intact, exercise can relieve and minimize unwanted behaviours like persistent whining, anxiety, restlessness, and endless barking.
Exercise helps to build confidence and the bond between you.
Pets are so good at providing us with unconditional love and companionship. Likewise, they love it when we spend time with them too! Exercise helps to build confidence and strengthen the bond between the pet and their human.
Exercise helps to keep pets strong, healthy, active, and limber.
Exercise has a significant influence on our pets' health. Strong muscles, heart, and joints help to prevent injuries and maintain mobility for as long as possible as pets get older. Exercise also stimulates the digestive system and helps it to function smoothly.
Maintaining a healthy weight is important for pets too. Regular exercise can help with this. Obesity isn't about looking 'pretty'... it has an impact on how a pet feels and how well his body functions. Excess weight can make joints and muscles sore, make it harder to breathe and to move around comfortably, increase the chance of injury, and can cause strain on the body's organs. Exercise is a useful tool to help combat canine obesity and keep your pet feeling great.
It's not just your pet's physical health that reaps benefits from exercise. Mental stimulation from playing with toys (for cats) and experiencing all the various sounds, sights, scents outdoors for dogs is great for mental health and just feeling good! Dogs who meet other people and other dogs while on their walks also have an opportunity to practice socialization skills.
The amount of exercise a pet needs will vary greatly depending on their fitness level, age, breed, and many other things including weather conditions.
Exercise can take many forms. It can admittedly be a little challenging to convince a contentedly-napping cat to exercise on your schedule. But there are a multitude of interactive cat toys like feathers and play wands, and laser toys that can capture their interest. Some cats will play fetch with small, light balls or a simple wadded-up paper ball. You can even teach a cat to do agility!
"Don't struggle against life. Float with it. Be buoyant. You won't sink unless you expect to." (Dean Koontz)