Starting an Exercise Program with Your Dog

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Dog owners know that puppies have quite a bit of energy and need lots of exercise. But even if your dog is a few years old or more, he or she still needs exercise on a regular basis to stay fit and healthy.

Consistent exercise can help fend off health problems such as obesity and heart trouble in dogs. Also, a regular exercise routine can help keep your dog from getting bored; bored dogs tend to get into trouble, especially when you are not at home.

“Dogs need exercise—exercise for their bodies and exercise for their brains,” explains Dr. Kyoko Yoshida, co-founder of Hudson Animal Hospital. “If you are making time to regularly exercise your dog, he or she will be much healthier and happier all around.”

Before starting an exercise program, though, there are several things to be considered:

  • Your pet’s overall health. You should talk to your veterinarian about exercise with your dog and about what types of activities would be best depending on your dog’s breed, age, and size.
  • Your own schedule. When you start a new exercise routine for your pet, you want it to be something that fits into your schedule—if it does then you will be more likely to keep it up. Sustainability is key.
  • Where you live. Living in the city brings some really great perks, but it certainly can make it difficult when it comes to exercising your dog. How can you develop an exercise program for your dog in an urban setting? Here are some ideas:

1) Find dog-friendly areas that are close to where you live. A quick Google search or a look through the phone book can help. In the Upper West Side, you have access to Central Park as well as some great dog runs.

2) Take your dog with you when you run errands on the weekends. If you walk to get groceries, pick up lunch, or grab a coffee, bring your dog along. He/she will enjoy the fresh air and will be getting exercise at the same time.

3) Play a game inside. Obviously this cannot get too rowdy, or the neighbors might be banging on your door! But an indoor game of tug of war can help your dog get some exercise—and it will be a lot of fun, too!

4) Add brain exercise to physical exercise. Though physical exercise is extremely important, make sure to also include activities that make your pet think and learn. Hide-and-seek is a great game for this, and there are many toys made specifically to help dogs learn to problem solve.

Dog owners wishing to get started with a pet exercise regimen should contact their veterinarian to schedule an appointment for an exercise evaluation; this evaluation should include suggestions for sustainable, breed-appropriate activities.

With a little thought and planning, you can enhance your dog’s life with a regular exercise routine. Another added benefit of planned exercise is that you get to spend more time with your pet!

Dr. Kyoko Yoshida is the co-founder and co-owner of Hudson Animal Hospital, a veterinary clinic located in the Upper West Side of Manhattan in New York City. Dr. Yoshida and her partner, Dr. Christopher Angiello, work with the staff at Hudson Animal Hospital to provide wellness, illness, and emergency care in a full-service, state-of-the-art facility. Hudson Animal Hospital | 238 West 61st Street, New York, NY 10023 | 212-706-4088 | www.hudsonahnyc.com