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As the semester rolls on and tests pile up many students begin
changing their daily routine to one that is more study friendly
and, unfortunately, usually more deskbound. What most students do
not realize is that while your dog lies next to you on the couch
day after day, it is being robbed of physical activity that is
vital to their health.
Multiple studies have shown that dogs that exercise have
improved bone health, and have improved organ and lung function. It
makes them look better, feel better, and they are less nervous when
"Exercise is good for maintaining general health, and it helps
keep your heart, muscles, and joints strong. It also helps with
maintaining weight and their coordination," said Jacqueline
Davidson, Clinical Track Professor at Texas A&M University
College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.
Studies also show that dogs lacking exercise usually have poor
muscle tone, and are more prone to injury, brain ailments, and bone
disorders. They are also more susceptible to developing emotional
problems and behavior quirks.
"Dogs that don't exercise are usually overweight, have less
dexterity, and their heart & joints aren't as vigorous,"
"A lack of exercise can affect you and your pet in similar ways,
like becoming chubby," said Davidson. "Obesity is a big concern for
Getting you and dog off the couch does not mean having to do a
tedious and dreary daily exercise, there are a lot of fun ways to
keep your pet and you active.
"For dogs the choices are easy, they enjoy almost anything you
enjoy doing," said Davidson. This can include "walking, running,
playing with a ball or Frisbee, agility training, and even such
sports as canicross and bikejoring (i.e. running or biking with
your dog attached by an elastic line)."
Sports like skijoring and bikejoring, while fun, can potentially
be a safety issue, warns Davidson. "If you're doing anything like
attaching yourself to your dog, make sure the dog has decent
obedience training and responds well to voice commands."
The best way to exercise with your dog is to set a "date" with
them. While generally playing in any way with your pet is good,
dogs benefit most from a prearranged occasion.
"Running around the yard is okay, but it's better to have a
structured activity where your pet is constantly moving," Davidson
said. "This structure can also help with your dog's behavioral
problems, like chewing, barking etc. because you are giving them an
outlet to expend surplus energy and spend time with you."
It is also important to be patient with your pet. When starting
a new activity or sport gradually build the time spent doing these
"If the dog is sedentary and you expect it to run for several
miles, or play vigorously for 30 minutes, injury may result if the
dog is not physically conditioned for the sport or activity,"
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