Five Questions for Dr. Moore: Dog Exercise
Physical Activity for Dogs
This month we’re going to talk to Doctor Christina Moore about dog exercise.
Urban Dog: What can happen if your dog doesn’t exercise? What are the benefits of dog exercise?
Dr. Moore: A lot of the same problems you see in humans from lack of exercise you’ll see in animals. They gain weight. The increased weight can be hard on their joints, hard on their backs. In general, fat is inflammatory and so having more fat causes more more pain and more discomfort for our pets. Keeping them lean is naturally a really important aspect of exercise… but you also need to think about really active dogs and where their energy goes; if they’re not using their energy outside to exercise and to play, they’ll end up letting that energy out in your house and tearing things up. You can see a lot of behavioral problems in pets that don’t have a chance to exercise. Exercise benefits both their bodies and their minds.
Urban Dog: Are there any other, not-so-obvious benefits of dog exercise?
Dr. Moore: One big benefit is the time spent with your pet: the more time you spend with them outside playing with them is time that is going to more strongly bond your pet to you. The more time you spend with your pet, the more they are going to want to spend time with you. So it helps with those behaviors as well: listening to you and behaving well.
Urban Dog: Should you consult with your vet about dog exercise?
Dr. Moore: You should definitely consult with your veterinarian before starting an exercise routine with your dog because any program is going to be breed-specific, it’s going to have to do with how quickly your dog grows, and your vet will consider how much exercise your dog needs in general.
Urban Dog: What type of exercise is the best dog exercise?
Dr. Moore: The best exercises are the ones that challenge your dog both physically and mentally. If you can do agility courses or if your dog will chase Frisbees or balls, those are great ways to exercise your dog. You also get the added benefit of training your dog with those types of activities; so when you throw a ball for your dog, they’ll be learning to chase they ball and bring it back to you. They learn commands like “stay” and “fetch.”
There are also lure-coursing events, where your dog will chase targets. Some dogs love it and will get great exercise.
(Below is a slow motion video of Bodhi chasing a Frisbee over a hedge)
Urban Dog: Are there any types of dog exercise you shouldn’t do with your pup? What should you be careful about when exercising your dog?
Dr. Moore: You have to be really careful with a lot breeds with running them or even walking them because they can overheat, especially in warm or hot weather. The brachycephalic breeds, the ones with short faces like bulldogs, or dogs with thick coats can be very sensitive to the heat. Even dogs that are used to running with you can go down quickly in hot weather. It’s easy for you to monitor your own response to heat, but it’s much harder to gauge those responses in dogs, so it’s something you need to be really sensitive to. You have to be careful that you’re not pushing your dog too hard. And that goes back to question three about consulting with your vet.
Dr. Moore puts her money where her mouth is! Not only is she an advocate for dog exercise, she takes “people exercise” seriously too. She’s an avid Cross Fit and Civilian Military Combine enthusiast. And she brings her faithful Beagle Frank with her to cheer her along.
I love that you refer to Frank as “loyal,” not “lazy.” Thank you! We love being a little part of UrbanDog NYC!