Our dogs lead increasingly sedentary lives
In recent times, as a result of the current pandemic situation, many of us have spent more time at home. Although dog walks are one of the exceptions that allow us to leave our homes, we don’t always do it as often or for as long as they (and we) need…
The result is that our lack of time (or even willingness) often results in increasingly lazy dogs, often with dire consequences to our dogs’ health.
In most cases, lack of physical activity in dogs results from the rather busy lives of their pet parents and their own lack of motivation to leave the house.
Sedentarism can be very harmful to dogs and the main consequence is obesity. This in turn, leads to a number of problems such as heart and joint disease, increase in incidence of malignant tumours and less resistance to infectious diseases.
Sedentarism is also responsible for increased levels of stress in dogs as they do not have an adequate energy expenditure for their breed and age. Finally, it can cause aggressiveness, anxiety and socialisation problems with other animals and people.
Why are there more and more obese dogs?
Today we are witnessing a humanisation of pets where pet parents, mostly due to lack of time, compensate their dogs with food instead of walks. It is a form of connection between humans and their dogs, but pampering them in the form of food is no substitute for the relationship that is created when we go for walks “as a pack”. This switch may leave many pet parents with a “clear conscience”, minimising the importance of walks and hikes. Another common mistake is to think that a dog that lives with access to a garden or a terrace does not need to be walked. Nothing could be further from the truth. Dogs are very sociable animals who enjoy the company of their pet parent for walks and also benefit greatly from the stimulus that comes from exploring other territories and meeting other animals and people. If the pet parent does not go on frequent walks and stimulater physical activity through playtime (e.g. “fetch”), the dog has a tendency to stay dormant for longer periods and thus become more sedentary.
How to avoid sedentarism?
The best way to fight sedentarism is through physical activity! The practice of physical exercise is always beneficial for both dog and pet parent. For the dog, physical exercise improves the cardiorespiratory system, strengthens the muscles and also encourages energy expenditure, preventing obesity. For the human, a good walk increases endorphin levels and will also increase good mood and self-esteem.
The physical exercise promoted by walking with your dog also decreases the risk of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, raises the levels of “good cholesterol”, decreases the incidence of depressive states and greatly reduces day-to-day stress. Walking your dog also promotes networking and bonding with others, in that it can promote contact between other people and animals.
It may be much easier and, let’s be honest, much cozier to stay at home, especially on these cold and rainy days, but we can make the most of our time with our dogs and make them our personal trainer! One hour walking per day may be enough to keep us fit and improve our dog’s life too!