Lisa, an LVT here at Sheridan Animal Hospital, shares her experience:
Six years ago, my husband and I went to visit dogs for adoption at a local rescue. When I walked into the yard, a throng of puppies, ranging in size and breed, came barreling towards us. I immediately saw Logan and couldn’t look away. The fuzzy, white and black border collie mix puppy and I had an immediate connection.
Border Collies are a high energy, exuberant, and intelligent breed. These traits can be beneficial in a canine companion, but some dogs can develop behavior issues. Anxiety and destructive chewing are common signs observed in dogs whose needs are not met. Early in his life, I focused on using Logan’s natural behavior to benefit both of us. Exercise, and plenty of it, has helped to make Logan both happy and healthy.
Logan is high energy. In order to keep him healthy, both mentally and physically, we actively work that energy away. In 2016, according to a clinical survey by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 53.9% of dogs and 58.9% of cats were clinically overweight. To prevent obesity, Logan is exercised daily and fed a veterinarian approved diet. Regular exercise can result in improved heart, lung, and muscle function. Logan isn’t the only one benefiting from our scheduled activity either, as I reap the same health rewards too.
Maintaining Logan at a healthy weight results in a lower risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and osteoarthritis. Exercise provides great health benefits, but we still visit our veterinarian at least once a year for a physical exam and preventative lab work screening tests. Exercise is not only great for the body, but has a psychological impact too!
Logan is intelligent. We strive to engage his brain as much as his body. He craves stimulation and shows signs of anxiety when not given enough. Pacing, whining, and inappropriate chewing can be signs of anxiety in dogs. To avoid these undesirable behaviors, we meet Logan’s need for interaction, exercise, and mental stimulus. Training sessions are a great way to burn energy and make your pet think.
Among his basic obedience commands, Logan has also learned to jump hurdles, run through a tunnel, and catch objects in the air. We play Frisbee, fetch and run small agility courses in the backyard. One of the best outlets for an overzealous dog is hiking. Logan is able to engage his mind through new sights, sounds, and smells. Hiking is not an option, Logan demands it with incessant whining while staring me down. Being able to run in the yard whenever he’d like is not a substitute for running in nature and exploring a different terrain. Our favorite spots include Chestnut Ridge, Green Lake, Wilkinsons Point, Knox Farms, Clarence Bike Path, Amherst State Park, and Ellicott Creek Park.
Logan is very social and loves interacting with other dogs. With our work schedule, I realized early on that Logan needed more attention on a daily basis than we had time for. Not only did we enroll him in doggie daycare, but my parents offered to walk Logan when I was not able. My parents are dog lovers, but no longer want the responsibility of dog ownership. They love taking Logan on walks and he gets the exercise he needs.
Our first year together, Logan was doing great with our exercise schedule, but I felt he needed even more stimulation and activity than I could offer. We enrolled him in once a week dog daycare to play with others of his species. At dog daycare Logan was enriched through canine play. I cannot run as fast or play the same way a dog does. Logan loved being chased, playing tug of war and interacting with other dogs. He was always well rested after daycare, which was a huge plus too!
Logan benefited so much from canine companionship, a year after he was adopted we decided to add another dog to our pack. Sage is a black lab mix and from the first meeting she and Logan were best friends! They love to play tug a war and chase. When they aren’t running circles after one another, we play fetch and see who can get to the toy first. To be content, Sage only requires half the amount of exercise as Logan. We tailor their activity schedules to meet their individual needs. Sometimes Sage stays comfy in her bed while Logan and I play a game of Frisbee in the yard.
Owning a high energy dog requires more work on the part of the owner, but I love how active Logan makes me. I never regret getting up and out for a hike. Seeing my dogs happy is the only reward that I need.
I hope that I’ve inspired you to create an exercise schedule that benefits canine and human alike. Start by marking a calendar with scheduled walks or hikes. Look into outside help if you cannot meet your dog’s exercise requirements. Approach a trusted neighbor, family member, or dog-sitter to see if they have interest in walking your canine companion when you are unable. Consult a reputable dog daycare for more engagement and canine play for your pal. Contact a trainer to teach your dog some new tricks, which will help strengthen the bond between you and your dog as you learn together. If your pet is having destructive behaviors or you’re unsure if they are healthy enough to start an exercise regimen, please consult one of our excellent veterinarians at Sheridan Animal Hospital.