Recommended Article #06February23
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This recommended article "Play and Exercise: 5 Ways to Keep Your Dog Mentally Healthy and Happy" is curated and sourced from Dogs Naturally Magazine. If you loved this article, please do feel free to share it around.
Play and Exercise: 5 Ways to Keep Your Dog Mentally Healthy and Happy
Every pawrent knows we should play and exercise with our canine furkids. Yes, we know it is good for them, and as dogs, that is what they need as a part of what they are and do. While we know this in our heads, it is very easy to let slip that daily walk your furkid needs when life's daily stresses and crazy work days add up to take you away from that. A day or two would not hurt, right? Think again.
When you are at work, your furkid is cooped up in the house all day. For a furry friend whose a wolf relative, that may feel very stifling, even if modern dogs have adapted well to modern day human needs and schedules. Dogs being dogs, are not naturally designed to be left alone all day indoors with little to nothing to do, and be expected to be okay. They are active, outdoor animals needing regular exercise for their sanity. Do not be surprised if your furry friend starts to engage in destructive behavior otherwise. It is that regular energy outlet of walks, "fetch", "tug" or other fun dog games that helps with mental health maintenance.
Some of the behavioral problems that can result from lack of play and exercise include destructive chewing, digging, trash raiding, hyperactivity, rough play, barking, and whining for attention. On the other reverse side, a well exercised and played dog will be less anxious and more satisfied.
Listed below, are five ways that play and exercise are able to keep your furkid happy and healthy:
1. Reduce Anxiety with Play
Dogs are very physical beings. They need movement, and the capacity to just do things to release all that built up energy. In the wild, this energy would usually be directed and utilized towards hunting, dealing with their wild surroundings and just plain survival. Our furkids, domesticated as they are, do not have these struggles, but still have some of that energy.
Linda J. Brodzik, a dog trainer and behavior specialist, relates that dogs are generally happier, more emotionally stable and calmer when there is play and exercise as play permits for an appropriate energy outlet. In the absence of play and exercise, our canine friends are bound to find their own outlet.
2. Walks Help With Brain Stimulation
A daily walk or two works to help your furkid on so many levels. One, being with you, is love, period. Two, your furkid gets to be a dog, sniff, and explore the world through his powerful nose. It is something that allows for your furkid to be its "natural self" had he been in the wild, and he probably still wants to do it, just that there is no opportunity to. Three, your furkid gets to be out and see something other than the house surroundings, especially its friends. Dogs are social creatures, and if they do not have any behavioral problems with the other dogs, it is a day for a good sniff and friendly greetings, and these things will help keep your furkid's mind working and active.
In an article by Dr Karen Becker, dogs, like humans, get a "runner's high" with prolonged aerobic exercise. So with "run time", your furkid will get an endocannabinoid, or "happy hormone", boost. Exercising with your furkid would therefore be beneficial twofold since you would also have an elevated level of endocannabinoids while playing along with your furkid.
3. Playtime could be Learning Time
Playing and walking with your dog need not be routine and monotonous. It could be be fun and educational. It is a good time to reinforce old commands, or even better, use the time to teach new tricks and games – all of which would stimulate your furkid's senses.
4. Satisfying Natural Instincts
Tug and fetch games are not only great games for pure fun; rather, they are also great outlets for satisfying your furkid's natural urges while mentally engaging them. Canines have a natural need to want to grab and pull things with their mouths (tug), and chasing is what canines do when they are out in the wild after prey (playing fetch or chasing after a toy on a stick). “Treasure hunt” is another useful game that allows for your furkid to engage their noses and minds.
There have been studies to show that a mutually shared gaze between the dog and its owner, could be akin to a bond like that of a mother and child due to the release of "oxytoxin", the so called "love hormone". So that said, play; if anything, play and exercise more, it could only be good for your dog's mental state.
In short, daily exercise is a necessity for your furkid to have its optimal physical and emotional health, doubly so for young pets and high energy breed type breeds. It is also really important to note that your dog, no matter how small, needs more exercise and activity beyond the house or backyard on its own.
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This blog first appeared on the Dogs Naturally Magazine website, where this article "Play and Exercise: 5 Ways to Keep Your Dog Mentally Healthy and Happy" was curated and sourced from.
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