You don't have a lazy dog just a poorly trained one. As surprising as that sounds, the takeaway from our interview with Dr. Steve Neuenschwander of Brentwood Animal Hospital in Raleigh, NC, is dogs will do whatever it takes to make you happy, but they can't do something they have never been taught to do. With 36 years experience as a vet, Neuenschwander says one of the most common problems he sees is obesity in dogs from lack of exercise. But how do you motivate your dog to exercise? This time-tested vet says a lot of dog's motivation comes from her owner. Let's see what else he has to say on the topic of movtivating your "lazy dog" to exercise.
Why do you think obesity in dogs is such a common problem?
There are a stunning number of people who think if you have a fenced in yard the dog will go out and play, but that's not the case. So they think the solution for them is high-priced prescription diet dog food. To stay trim, dogs are a lot like humans. They need a combination of exercise and food reduction
Why don't dogs just go and play in the yard?
Many times, having a treadmill in your bedroom most frequently results in it being used to hold the clothes you toss on it. The same is true for dogs. Just because you have a yard doesn't mean they are motivated to go out there and run around for the pure joy of it. To keep track of your dog's activity, try using the LINK AKC Smart Collar to record exactly how much exercise your dog is getting out there in the yard by himself. A dog is most motivated to play when his owner is playing with him.
What can dog owners do to be active with their dogs?
Dogs are very special and want to be with their owners. If the owners like to lie on the couch and encourages the puppy to lie down with them, then the dog learns to be inactive. That's not to say you should take your puppy out and run five miles every day. Breeds prone to orthopedic joint issues will only aggravate and accelerate the opportunity for injury with an aggressive exercise schedule. But it does mean you should find some type of enjoyable activity to do with your furry friend on a regular basis. Even a nice walk around the block will do!
How do you motivate your lazy dog to play in a safe way?
Exercise for dogs is like exercise for people. If you do too much at once it becomes work and not fun. Dogs will refuse to do it, or will injure themselves trying to make you happy. Find an exercise your dog likes and give her as many opportunities as possible to do it. Be mindful it takes just as long to develop an exercise habit for your dog as it does for humans. The best motivator is hanging out with you best friend, so be prepared to exercise with her.
Is it easier to motivate a puppy to play than an older dog?
A puppy's primordial instinct is to chase things, so work to channel that in play when young. By establishing play routines, it becomes a way of life. If you play with your dog as a puppy and then stop, it is harder to get him to find that motivation again. So be consistent in your efforts.