By Anneliese Staff, CPDT-KA
One of the best perks of living with a dog is the subsequent improvement on your own health. Dog owners enjoy lower rates of loneliness and depression and less stress than people who don’t have a furry member of their family! Although, those who receive the greatest benefits from living with a dog seem to be those who exercise or walk with their dog. Exercise is one of the most important factors in considering the health of humans and animals!
“Regular physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Being physically active can improve your brain health, help manage weight, reduce the risk of disease, strengthen bones and muscles, and improve your ability to do everyday activities.” (1)
This quote from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention applies directly to the benefits of exercise on the human body. However, these benefits of physical activity can also apply to your dog as well. People who exercise with their dogs regularly tend to experience many physical benefits including the following:
- Reduced risk of diabetes
- Lower blood pressure
- Improved autonomic tone
- Improved stress tolerance
- Improved cognition
- Improved mobility later in life
- Increased life span
Why is walking or exercising with your dog so beneficial? Because we are more likely to stick to our fitness plan when we involve our dogs! Our dogs depend on us to meet their need for exercise – and many dogs misbehave when they don’t get enough! With the encouragement of prioritizing your dog’s health, many individuals with dogs end up exercising more. This results in fitness benefits for you and your furry friend!
Dogs who don’t get enough exercise tend to show external effects of misbehaving. However, exercise is crucial to the internal and physical health of your dog. Without exercise, they are at risk of physical and behavioral problems, such as the following:
- Reduced muscle tone
- Weight gain
- Increased risk of bone and joint disorders
- Increased risk of injury
- Increased risk of emotional problems
- Increased risk of behavioral problems
Starting a fitness adventure with your dog might feel daunting, time-consuming, or boring. But the dog training community can help you get started. The American Kennel Club (AKC) has introduced their Family Dog suite of activities and evaluations to help people become more active with their pets. The Family Dog program starts with simple behaviors most dogs can learn in a few weeks. The program offers gradual progression of several different activities, such as basic obedience, trick training, and fitness classes.
In January 2023, AKC launched FIT Dog titles so you can track your dog’s fitness progress and earn recognition as you go. Each level – Bronze, Silver, or Gold – helps you find ways to be active with your dog. Options include taking a FIT Dog class from an AKC-approved FIT Dog instructor, individual walks, group walk or runs, and a variety of other activities like swimming, disc and parkour!
Now that sounds like a fitness plan we can stick to!
To learn more about AKC FIT Dog programs and book an appointment with Anneliese, go to petworks.com/hire/pet-trainers
(1) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022, June 16). Benefits of physical activity. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved February 2, 2023, from https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/pa-health/index.htm
About the Author
Anneliese Staff, CPDT-KA
AKC FIT Dog Instructor
Anneliese helps people and their dog find joy through training. She helps pets feel good – so they can behave better too.
Are you ready to make your dog happy and well-behaved?