Written by 6:10 pm Health & Care

Dog Depression: Is Exercise The Best Medicine?

Is exercise the best medicine for a dog struggling with depression? We all know how good exercise i…
Cute dog relaxing on the floor
Close to his mistress. Pleased thankful young woman petting her dog while it lying on a bright carpet beside her and looking a little sad

Is exercise the best medicine for a dog struggling with depression? We all know how good exercise is for our own mental health, but can it also help our dogs who seem to be a bit down in the dumps?

Well, it certainly seems to be of benefit. What’s more, there are many ways that it can be done without using up valuable time which you would otherwise spend with your dog!

Increasing exercise is an effective treatment for both canine and human depression. Other studies show that taking dogs on regular walks significantly reduces their stress levels. It gives them a real sense of purpose and fulfilment too, which is so important for our four-legged friends who love nothing better than to have a job to do.

Unfortunately, life often gets in the way of owners getting out into the countryside or walking along beaches or woodland trails with their dogs at their side. Busy lives leave little time for anything other than work and sleep, so it can be a challenge to find time in your day for exercise.

Fortunately, there is a wide range of indoor activities that you and your dog can enjoy together when the weather outside is not at its best. These include things like training games, nose work challenges, playing with toys and even dancing! In fact, there are so many ways that you can keep fit whilst bonding positively with your pet that it’s actually quite surprising how little emphasis has been placed on this aspect until now…

We have made a list of our top ten tips for keeping fit with your pet indoors – whether they are suffering from depression or not! They really are simple to do – but most importantly they will help to sure that you get enough exercise, your dog gets enough exercise and also that you two have some fun together.

We hope you enjoy the list!

Top 10 tips to keep your pet fit

  1. Make time for regular exercise with your dog – this doesn’t mean that you have to run the equivalent of a marathon every time! Walking for around half an hour (knees permitting!) is fine, but don’t underestimate how much it can help…
  2. Take up indoor games – there are lots of fun things that you can do indoors such as playing tug-of-war (make sure they let go!), chasing balls and playing “hide and seek” behind chairs or sofas. Anything is possible…and if it looks like the game might get out of hand then stop for a few minutes before starting again. Remember: even dogs need their rest!
  3. Make time to do something for yourself every day – even just ten minutes reading or listening to music can work wonders for both body and mind. You’ll be less likely to get snappy with your dog and more likely to show them interest and affection. It is also a good idea to ask someone else, like a friend or family member, to come around or phone you every day just so you can talk about something different for a change!
  4. Dance with your dog – It doesn’t matter how good you are; they love watching their owner getting into what they’re doing. The more confident you look, the happier your pooch will be, so give it a go!
  5. Take your dog to obedience classes – if you’re feeling stressed, knowing that you’ll soon be greeted by a friendly face and lots of like-minded people (and dogs!) makes the world of difference. Plus it’s also a great way to get out of the house and socialize with other owners!
  6. Stop training when you feel your temper fraying – an hour session is enough each day, if you’re getting irritable then call a halt for the day and pick up where you left off tomorrow. You won’t be any good to anyone if you lose control so don’t push yourself too far.
  7. Teach your dog some new tricks – and practice often, it will mean they always have something new to do with you. Keep working on the basics like “sit”, “down” and “stay” (in case there’s a fire or someone comes to the door). Remember that dogs love routine and familiarity; it gives them a sense of security and helps keep them safe.
  8. Add some more challenges to nose work games – use props like boxes or bags to hide treats so they have to search hard for them – and make sure you tell them to take their time!
  9. Take up a new hobby together – read up on natural dog training for inspiration! Or find out what kinds of activities are at your local agility club so you can give it a go yourself…you might surprise yourselves!
  10. Take turns to be active – One person does ten minutes of activity with the dog (walking, dancing, playing etc.) while the other watches; then swap roles. A great way of knowing how many calories you each burn too.

If your dog’s not used to going for a walk then think about what will motivate them instead. For a lot of dogs a chance to hunt and sniff out new scents in open spaces will do it; so once you’ve walked in a straight line long enough, just turn around and head back home. However, if they’re more food orientated then take some tasty treats with you to give them when they’ve been good!

You should aim to spend at least 10 minutes exercising your dog each day, but remember that it can be broken down into smaller sessions if you’re short on time. It might sound like a lot, but it all adds up and is much better than nothing!

Dog depression could be helped with the advice above however, the problem may have stemmed from medical reasons so please visit your vet before following any advice given here.

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