Dogs are built to move. For thousands of years they’ve been selectively bred mainly in order to hunt, herd and protect, making daily exercise a key part of their overall wellbeing. Physical activity allows your dog to stay healthy, calm and cheerful, and helps limit undesirable behaviour. Today, routine exercise is more important than ever now that dogs (and people) lead more sedentary lives with plenty of access to food.
The amount of exercise your dog needs will largely depend on his breed, age and size. That said, most dogs can really benefit from at least one 30 minute walk a day, as well as some more playful aerobic exercise (like fetch or tug of war). When walking your dog, you should give him freedom to explore, sniff around and play with other dogs. Feel free to bring your dog along with you on any outings too: many dogs love window-down car journeys or visits to the beach. Don’t forget that games like fetch can be played at home. Standing at the top of the stairs and getting your dog to run down and retrieve a ball will tire him out quickly.
When walking your dog, make sure you use a flexible lead and bring a plastic bag for any mess they leaves behind. If you’d like to learn more how to control your dog, take a look at our Dog Training page for some simple tips.
Dogs that receive plenty of love and care from their owners tend to be happiest. Stroking, patting, rubbing and hugging your dog will help them relax and feel secure. Scratching behind the ears and belly rubs are common canine favourites.
It’s worth noting that giving your dog physical affection acts as positive reinforcement for any behaviour that came before it. For this reason, it’s important that you show affection at the right times, following good and stable behaviour like eating or exercising.
Dogs can become jittery when left alone at home for long periods of time, and you should always try to avoid keeping your dog indoors all day long. However, leaving the dog at home is often unavoidable for owners with jobs and busy schedules - but there are ways to alleviate the stress. One way is to give your dog some vigorous exercise before you leave the house so that it’s more likely to want to nap. This also helps balance your dog emotionally. Leaving your dog with some toys can also be a great help, providing him with a source of entertainment and distraction.