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Make Sure Your Dogs Are Getting The Exercise They Need

Most pet parents know their dog needs exercise to be healthy. People realize that dogs need a walk - an opportunity to get outside to "take care of business" or some time to stretch their legs. But when people are busy, often, their dog's exercise is what suffers. Although dogs may stop bugging their owners to take them outside at some point, it doesn't mean that they no longer need to get outside and be active. There are a variety of health issues that can develop when dogs don't get enough exercise.

Many times, a lack of canine workouts over the years will develop into obesity. Dogs who are overweight are more likely to get a slew of serious health issues, including heart disease, diabetes as well as joint and muscle problems, according to Pet Education. Exercise doesn't just give dogs a way to shake off some of that extra weight - active dogs have better metabolisms, smaller appetites and more toned muscles, Pet MD reported. In addition to obesity, inactivity in dogs can also lead to behavioral and social issues. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals warned that cooped up dogs are more likely to destroy furniture, eat trash, jump on people, play too violently and bark.

Unlike with people, canine fitness doesn't come down to the dog's ability to make him or herself exercise, it's all about how much effort the owner is willing to put in. Many loving pet parents do put a lot of effort into their dog's health, but sometimes it's too hard to push yourself to take your dog out on a big walk when the weather is nasty and the sun is setting. But regardless of the weather, there's always something that dogs and their owners can do together to keep fit and healthy. Here are a few things every pet owner should know about the benefits of exercise for dogs:

Walk your dog as often as possible
Taking your dog for a walk may seem like the most basic exercise possible, but in reality, there may be nothing better for your dog's holistic health. Holistic health refers not just to physical well-being, but also the social and emotional aspects. Veterinarian Tony Krememer told WebVet that walks can help dogs keep in touch with their surroundings and other dogs in the area.

"The same way we check our e-mail, dogs use a walk and their heightened sense of smell to check their 'pee-mail'," he said. "That's what keeps their lives interesting." A step better than smelling and marking scents, many times, on the course of a walk, dogs will be able to interact with other dogs. This can be a good opportunity for younger dogs to learn about interaction, or for older dogs to get some more active play than they may usually indulge in.

But, of course, the most important aspect of a walk is the physical exercise. Walks can be a great way to build muscle, regulate digestion, strengthen joints, maintain a healthy weight and keep a dog happy. What may feel like a slow-paced workout to a person can be exactly what a dog wants. Walks that give a dog the opportunity to safely run off the leash if the dog is trained for that can give your furry family member a chance to burn off some extra steam, too. 

People should consult with their veterinarian about what's a good distance or duration to keep their dogs at a healthy weight with the amount of calories they take in. Dogs with short or flat noses, such as Pugs, Pekinese, or English Bulldogs may have more trouble breathing through their noses and regulating their body temperatures. Exercise can help a lot of behavioral issues too, according to the ASPCA. Walks and activities can help dogs and their parents build trust, reduce fear and shyness as well as improve dog and human interaction. Problematic habits may also be helped with increased exercise, including chewing, digging and biting. Dogs may also be able to sleep more restfully when people engage them in a more regular athletic schedule.

There are millions of exercises other than walking that dogs will enjoy too. Swimming, playing fetch, tugging or using indoor toys and games are just some of the exercises that will get your dog's blood pumping. Even treadmill walking can do the trick. Low-calorie treats are a healthy way to motivate your dog, Dog Food Advisor stated. 

Exercising your dog can benefit you as well
Many dogs and people may not get as much exercise as they should.  Pet parents may want to consider adding themselves to their dog's fitness regimen, according to The Bark magazine. Walking with dogs is a fun way for people to exercise and grow stronger bonds with their dogs.
These are just a few ways to incorporate exercise into your and your dog's life. Keeping your pup active will promote a healthy lifestyle and longevity.