Exercise, exercise, exercise seems to be the rule of thumb not only overall health and well being, but I’ve found it to be profoundly important in my dog training regiment. Exercise is not the cure all, but it certainly has its place in my daily routine as much as it does in Jack and Bernie’s routine.
I know first hand how exercise impacts my day. After a run, I feel balanced, empowered and rejuvenated. I know a run can be both meditative or an avenue to work through stress by problem solving while I put one foot in front of the other. For me, running is an opportunity to release stress, tension and do a little something for myself. The days when I don’t run because its a rest day or life got a little too in the way, I feel it. I crave to move and release the energy within while I remained static.
I recently read a blog post which cited research on the impact of movement in managing anxiety (http://www.calmclinic.com/anxiety/treatment/exercising). The biggest take away I found centered on the lack of movement creates tension. Tension is what some people link to feelings of anxiety. Therefore, when I move, in my case, run, I release the build up of stress in my body through exercise and my endocrine system releases endorphin, the feel good hormone. Humans were designed to move and in the book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, he points out the science behind humans actually being designed to not walk, but run. Let me just say, this book was a great read and even if you’re a nonrunner, still a great one to put on your list!
If us humans were basically meant to run, what about our furry friends? If we find balance and generally feel good after exercise, wouldn’t our dogs feel the same? I regularly see dogs who are highly anxious at home and demonstrate displacement behaviors which include barking and destructive chewing as some examples. They are showing frustration and or separation anxiety in more severe cases. These dogs rarely get exercise where they are panting and focused on moving with or for their owner. Not only is exercise or a high level of play necessary for a dog to become more relaxed in the home, its also necessary for the longevity and well being of the dog.
Let’s take Jack, who I’ve mentioned to be highly active. I’ve seen first hand, if his energy doesn’t get worked out, he becomes frustrated, vigilant and impossible to keep under control. Structured exercise regimen allows his visceral energy release and he becomes a more focused, relaxed and obedient dog. Exercise alone doesn’t change your dog overnight. A daily regiment of exercise, training and a structured relationship with you and your dog all together will lead your furry friend in becoming more settled and reliable.
If you want to start moving with your dog and running is the avenue you would like to pursue, check out the Runners World article which gives steps of how to do so http://www.runnersworld.com/running-with-dogs/see-spot-run.