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Exercise & Stress in Dogs

The relationship between exercise and stress in dogs is significant, and regular physical activity can have positive effects on a dog's mental and emotional well-being. From daily walks, marathon sprints, toys and games, there are many ways to expend your dog's energy and keep their mental state in tip top condition in the meantime.

Dogs are active and explorative creatures by nature, and have been confined to urban areas for less than 6 generations. 70% of the UK's dogs are reported to be either overweight or obese, whereas an active lifestyle lowers the risk of obesity, joint disease, heart disease and neurodegenerative disorders as well as maintains a strong musculoskeletal system. Musculoskeletal atrophy (wastage) is prevented by moving your dog daily, especially important in their midlife years when you can focus on building endurance, excellent muscle mass and tone to carry them healthily into their geriatric years. In studies revolving around the oldest dogs recorded on earth, the one consistent variable was rigorous daily exercise.

Activity and exercise increases meaningful AMPK, the anti-aging molecule. Even dogs who are not overweight can develop arthritis and other debilitating conditions that affect bones, joints, muscles and internal organs, while activity puts the joints through their natural full range of motion, building muscle tone, strengthening ligaments and tendons. An active lifestyle engages your dog's proprioception (mind and body synergy), leading to better balance, improved coordination and, as a result, less injury.

Insufficient physical activity can foster hyperactivity, increased anxiety and destructive behaviours, with 70% of reported behavioural issues in dogs attributable to some form of anxiety.

There is an inverse relationship between exercise and anxiety; when exercise increases, anxiety decreases and vice versa.

Behaviour and cognition will suffer without regular physical and or mental stimulation. Common undesirable behaviours in under exercised and under stimulated dogs include chewing, general rowdiness, jumping up, digging, mouthing, heightened reactivity, hyperactivity and so on. Exercise alters the brain chemistry, promoting brain cell growth and inducing an overall calmer state of being.

  1. Physical Outlet for Energy:

  • Dogs are naturally active animals, and regular exercise provides them with a healthy outlet for their energy.

  • Adequate exercise helps prevent boredom, which can be a source of stress and frustration in dogs.

  1. Mental Stimulation:

  • Exercise not only addresses the physical needs of a dog but also provides mental stimulation.

  • Mental stimulation is crucial for preventing behavioural problems that can arise from boredom or pent-up energy, such as destructive behaviours, excessive vocalisation, separation anxiety and fearfulness.

  1. Stress Reduction:

  • Physical activity triggers the release of endorphins, which are hormones that act as natural mood elevators and stress relievers in both humans and dogs.

  • Regular exercise helps reduce anxiety and stress in dogs by promoting a sense of well-being.

  1. Behavioral Benefits:

  • Dogs that receive sufficient exercise are less likely to engage in destructive behaviours, excessive barking, or other signs and manifestations of stress.

  • Physical activity can contribute to a calmer and more balanced temperament.

  1. Bonding and Socialization:

  • Activities like walking, running, and playing fetch provide opportunities for bonding between dogs and their owners.

  • Socialization during exercise, such as meeting other dogs or people, can contribute to a dog's overall well-adjusted behavior.

  1. Individual Needs:

  • The appropriate amount and type of exercise can vary among dog breeds and individual dogs. High-energy breeds may require more vigorous activities, while smaller or less active breeds may be content with gentler exercises.

  1. Routine and Consistency:

  • Establishing a regular exercise routine is important for maintaining a dog's physical and mental health.

  • Inconsistency or lack of exercise can contribute to stress and behavioral issues.


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