There are dogs who play endlessly in the park, and then there are some prefer to sleep on the couch all day. If your dog enjoys the latter, it might be of more harm than good. Dogs who are canine couch potatoes are predisposed to several medical problems - diabetes, cancer and
obesity, to name a few. Dogs need exercise, whether they like it or not. If you have a dog who won't budge, read more to learn how to get her to exercise.
Medium and large breeds of dog need a minimum of two hours of aerobic exercise, i.e., fast paced walks, running, jogging etc., while small breeds of dog need a minimum of one-hour aerobic exercise—dogs who aren't exercised daily or sufficiently develop many mental and
physical health complications. Arthritis, cardiovascular disease, cancer, joint problems, aggression, stress, anxiety come knocking at the door when dogs spend their day with no exercise.
Sometimes, a dog might choose not to want to exercise for reasons that may not be apparent -
Underlying health condition: Hyperthyroidism, anaemia, Lyme disease, arthritis, cancer are conditions that may result in inactivity in dogs. A once active dog now turned dull may require you to consult a veterinarian to rule out possible medical threats.
Stress: Stress can sometimes result in demotivation or lack of enthusiasm. It manifests in ways that we suspect as bad behaviour - chewing, howling, excessive barking, unnecessary panting, lip licking, yawning etc. Stress is most often from an external source - being tied for
most of the day, separation anxiety, environmental factors etc
Too much or too less food : Feeding excessively and then under exercising a dog makes them feel lazy and unmotivated to exercise. Contrarily, inadequate nutrition intake can make your dog feel weak and tired.
Fear of walking : A very common reason for not exercising enough - "my dog hates walks."
Sometimes, it is the walker's fault. If a particular place or person instils fear to the extent that your dog refuses to walk - you might want to change the place/person.
How to get your dog to exercise?
Toys : Playing with the right toys for your dog guarantees good exercise and lots of fun! Not every dog like to play ball or fetch, so if you're going to throw a ball and blame the dog for not running after it - it might be your fault and not the dog's. Learn of what kind of toy is right for your dog, and then make exercise fun by playing for an hour or more with those toys (on a rotational basis).
Treats : Here, treats are used as an incentive to get your dog to form a positive correlation between food and walks. Before and after each walk, praise your dog and reward him with treats. Try to cover more distance every day and gradually decrease the number of treats you
feed him after every walk.
Agility Course : There are dogs who do not enjoy walking around the same block every day. If your dog is one among them, consider building an agility course. Use ramps, tires, jump poles, tunnels to build your agility course. At first, however, you might need to guide your dog with treats through the agility course. Courses can be made more challenging over time - once your dog understands what he is supposed to do.
Different exercise routine : Trying out new exercises every day takes away boredom from exercising. If you walked today, bike tomorrow, swim the day after and hike on the weekends. Make exercising fun for both you and your dog so that neither one of you ends up dreading daily exercise. For those who cannot spruce up their exercise routines, walk on different roads every day. Every road has different mentally stimulating smells to which make the walk exciting.
Playdates : Some dogs enjoy the company of other dogs instead of boring walks on a leash. Consider playdates every week if your dog is one among them - arrange for playdates at parks, houses, backyards, swimming pools, roads, agility courses etc. Say adios to all the supposed 'laziness' in your dog, and here's to a healthy life together.