Top 5 canine sports
Why the effort?
If you are at all like us, you are well aware that regular exercise, whether it be walking, jogging, or working out at the gym, is:
1) good for you
2) vital to maintain long-term health and well-being and
3) something that you really should take off your “to do” list and start doing now.
Indeed, in a world of health clubs, senior aerobics, hot yoga, and parent-kid zumba, it is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore that exercise is important (although some of us may still valiantly try!).
However, as a dog owner, you perhaps are less aware that getting exercise is as important for your dog as it is for you. While you instinctively give him lots of love including a daily dose of snuggling on the couch, you may also consider that the appropriate physical exercise, adapted to your dog’s age, breed, character and physical aptitude, is essential to help him stay mentally alert and physically fit throughout his lifetime. In short, while taking your dog for a walk twice a day is a good start, it may very well not be enough to meet his physical and mental needs.
From working to companion dogs: satisfying your dog’s exercise requirements
While it is still open to debate, some recent research suggests that from 12 000 (Middle East) to 31 000 years ago (Belgium) , the first domesticated dogs lived with hunter-gatherers and may have assisted in tracking food and keeping potential predators at bay. Over the centuries, dogs have been bred to help humans in different types of often very physically demanding activities. Border collies and Australian shepherd dogs have long been trained to herd sheep while the incredibly athletic Alaskan Husky is still used in Arctic regions as a working sled dog. The Labrador retriever, traditionally a gundog bred for hunting duck, is now trained to assist the blind or work with the law enforcement agencies.
However, today, most dogs are simply our beloved companions, living comparatively sedentary lives. As a member of your family, your dog shares your home life, but he is often left on his own when you are away at work or simply out and about. Yet, whatever his age, your canine needs physical exercise to release pent up energy and unwind. In addition, some breeds need much more activity than others and this is not necessarily linked to size. Hence, herding dogs such as the medium to large sized German Shepherd or the Australian shepherd dog have high activity requirements, but so do the much smaller Jack Russel terrier, originally bred to hunt foxes, or the small but extremely energetic Cocker.
Deprived of the opportunity to release energy, your lovable friend may begin to engage in some not so lovable behaviour. Physical exercise and play are also extremely important to keep your friend mentally stimulated, to maintain his muscle mass and prevent weight gain. It teaches him socializing skills, as well as discipline while reinforcing your bond with him. Incidentally, exercising with your dog may even give you a good workout too (besides being a lot of fun), provided of course that you always put his physical capacities and limitations first.