Keep your pet fighting fit with our guidance on exercise and fitness—a healthy pet is a happy one
Regardless of age, size or species, all animals need a degree of daily activity to keep fit and healthy. Before choosing a pet, be sure that their requirements are manageable in relation to your lifestyle. If you have a demanding job that involves long working hours, you may wish to consider a low maintenance pet. At-home workers or individuals with flexible schedules are usually suitable for more energetic or reliant breeds. We simplify the concept of exercise for household pets with some simple tips on regime and care.
Each breed of dog has its distinct characteristics, tendencies and physical needs. It can be challenging to recognise which will be happy in your home.
High-energy breeds are always ready for action, they can easily be identified through their need to jump and play. Some of these dogs were originally bred for hunting, sporting and other pastimes such as herding sheep. Their intelligent nature demands that their owner constantly challenge them with games, puzzles and stimulating training exercises. Dogs of this kind should complete over two hours of exercise per day to keep them in peak shape. Swimming and brisk walks are the perfect way to help them hit this quota. Specific breeds include Australian Shepherd, Border Collie, German Shepherd, Shetland Sheepdog Siberian Husky and Weimaraner.
This group of breeds usually embodies the best of both worlds; they can be mellow at times but also enjoy exerting themselves. Such canines are known for their fun and charismatic nature. Generally, they have a lot of energy to spend—although not as much as sporting breeds. They will need a significant amount of time outdoors to run and stretch their legs. Depending on the dog itself, the daily recommended amount of exercise will fall between 40 minutes and one hour and a half. Specific breeds include Border Terrier, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and Golden Retriever.
Dogs within this category need less exercise and are content with relaxing for long periods of the day. For most, their biological construction explains their incapacity for running or walking long distances. Brachycephalic dogs are a key example of this. Their breeding has provided them with short muzzles and noses, constricting their breathing and making strenuous exercise difficult. Despite their relaxed temperament, low-energy dogs still need a bit of movement—at least 20 minutes a day. Specific breeds include Basset Hound, Bulldog, Chihuahua, Pug and Shih Tzu.
Some cat owners may decide to raise their pet as an indoor cat, while others will choose to install a cat flap to allow them to come and go as they please. This decision will largely dictate how your cat exercises.
Play is an important aspect in cat development, especially for indoor cats. Chasing a ball or playing with an interactive toy can keep them occupied and expend their energy. Take the time to engage with your cat and test them with training exercises. Indoor cats can sometimes become uninterested in their environment; get round this by building a space exclusively for them. Incorporate different levels and textures within the area with perches and cubbies for them to explore.
Cats are notoriously predatory creatures; most will happily roam their local area to hunt and catch small prey. This allows them to practice their climbing skills via trees and fences, keeping them fit and agile. Instinctive behaviour dictates that cats form their own territory, which is usually a personal neighbourhood. Felines from this group can split their day between outdoor explorations and time spent indoors with their owner.
Not getting enough?
The consequences of pets not getting enough exercise can be detrimental to their health. Pets with restricted space can start to develop destructive tendencies as a result of boredom and anxiety. These can include:
- Chewing/scratching furniture
- Loud whining
- Urinating inappropriately
- Excessive barking
In more extreme cases, animals can lash out or self-mutilate—this is often observed in birds and other animals that are kept in confined cages or without company.