Just like humans, it’s important for dogs to get plenty of physical activity in order to lead a healthy life. Many dogs suffer from obesity, which puts a strain on their hip and leg joints and can lead to heart disease and internal problems as well. If you want your pup to live a long, healthy life, physical enrichment is a must.

But physical enrichment doesn’t just make a dog healthier, it makes them happier, as it reduces stress and balances their hormones. Have an anxious dog? Physical enrichment helps them burn off excess energy and triggers the release of endorphins, which helps comfort them. Have a puppy? Keeping a puppy well exercised can help lessen destructive behaviors like chewing shoes and furniture, or barking excessively at the front door.

The Importance Of Physical Enrichment For Your Dog

What is the right level of physical activity for your dog?

Finding the right type and level of physical activity really depends upon the breed and age of your dog. Breeds like Retrievers thrive in the water and love playing fetch! But not all dogs are made for rigorous physical activity. Take a look at some of our suggestions below. We also recommend regular vet visits to make sure your dog is healthy enough for the physical enrichment you have planned. 

Small breeds like Terriers, Poodles and Beagles are very energetic and need more than a walk around the block. Most active dog breeds need an average of 30-60 minutes of exercise each day to be physically and mentally happy companions. Other breeds like Havaneses, Bulldogs, Basset Hounds and Shih-tzus will be glad to lay in your lap all day long! Even though these breeds won’t make good running partners, they still need a few short bursts of exercise each day like a quick game of fetch or tug-of-war.

Breeds like Retrievers, Australian Huskies, Collies, Dalmatians and Weimaraners require lots of exercise. They thrive in an active family who has plenty of time to take them on walks, hikes, trips to the park, or play lots of fetch. These dogs were developed with a purpose in mind. Whether hunting or herding sheep, they will be most happy when worked hard! The good news is that they will be ready to relax with you at the end of a long day.

Although all dogs need some exercise, not all dogs are built for sustained physical activity. Dogs with short noses and very short legs don’t have the physique for heavy strenuous exercise. Bulldogs, Pekingese, and Pugs are not efficient breathers and can overheat easily when exercising in hot weather. A light stroll might be all these dogs can handle so don’t push them too far.

What kinds of physical enrichment are best for my pet?

There are lots of ways to get your pet moving – both indoors and out. Of course, walks and hikes are great options, but toys are also a great way to get your dog the exercise he or she needs in the comfort of your home. 

  • Have a dog that’s ball-obsessed? Try an iFetch automatic ball launcher! You’ll love watching your dog fetch to their heart’s content. And best of all, once your dog has mastered the technique, he or she can play fetch while you’re away (or show off for you while you’re there).
  • Have a digger? Try an iDig digging toy and save your couch cushions. Simply load the flaps of the iDig toy with your dog’s favorite toys and treats (or even their dinner kibble) and watch them forage and dig away to find the treasure.
  • Love nature? Find a new hiking trail or swimming spot – just remember to pack lots of water and watch for signs on leashing your dog.
  • Quarantine crazy? Get creative! Set up a little obstacle course in the backyard and change it up every week to challenge your pup’s mind as well as his body. Or bring the iFetch ball launcher outside and let them fetch away while you tend to the grill.
  • Have a clever pup? Teach them new tricks – shake, rollover, spin, high five… so many fun options! All it takes is a few treats and your patience. Remember to keep it short and sweet – 10-15 minutes is usually enough for a solid training session for both of you. You can also look into puzzle toys for your dog to keep them both physically and mentally engaged. The iFetch Frenzy is a great toy for small to medium breeds – train your dog to drop the mini tennis ball into the top of the toy and watch them scramble to find it as it rolls out of one of three openings at the bottom.

Whatever you choose, just mix it up and remember to have fun! Physical enrichment not only makes your dog healthier – it makes them happier! And we bet playing with your dog makes YOU happier too! 

Guest post by iFetch. For information on iFetch dog toys, visit goifetch.com.

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