Dogs have a rich, distinguished history of being great workers. Your guy's ancestors may have been hunters or herders, but chances are he doesn't have a job to do. Just because Buddy doesn't have to work doesn't mean he should loll away the days on the couch, snacking on biscuits.
The same benefits you get from exercise apply to Buddy. Dogs are prone to obesity, which decreases speed and stamina and contributes to a variety of health issues, including joint and ligament problems, high blood pressure, cardiac problems, skin problems and a host of other conditions. If you don't exercise, you may entertain yourself with a good book or movie, but Buddy doesn't have that option. If he's not getting enough exercise, you may see the result in his behavior, such as rough play, barking, whining and other attention-getting behavior, destructive chewing, digging or scratching, excitability and unruliness, such as jumping on people.
With a proper diet, exercise will provide Buddy with a host of health benefits, including keeping his weight under control. Other potential health benefits of appropriate exercise include fewer digestive problems, improved bone and joint health and better heart and lung function. Exercise also is useful to help keep him out of trouble and often reduces undesirable behaviors such as excessive barking, chewing and digging. If Buddy's been restless at night, exercise can help him -- and you -- get a better night's sleep.
Whether you feed Buddy on a set schedule or he free-feeds, measuring his food helps ensure he doesn't overeat. If he's free-fed, he's able to eat throughout the day, whenever his rumbling belly calls him to his dish. If he's eating on a schedule, he eats at a specific time each day -- it's up to you how often. Regardless of your method, measuring his food portion gives you control over how much he eats, minimizing his risk of obesity. Buddy may be one of those dogs who will eat as much as he can, hungry or not. Measuring his food allows you to monitor how much he's eating, which is important if he's got a medical condition you need to keep an eye on. It's difficult to know if a dog's appetite is depressed if you're not paying attention to how much he regularly eats.
Putting Buddy in the yard and leaving him alone won't give him the exercise he needs. Appropriate exercise considers his age, breed and health. If he's a puppy, he'll need short spurts of exercise; wait til he's grown to take him jogging with you. If you're just starting him on an exercise program, start slowly and gradually work up to longer time periods. If Buddy's a particularly active breed, such as a herder, he'll benefit from longer periods of exercise; other breeds, such as hounds, are bred for short bursts of energy and should be exercised to reflect their heritage. Avoid exercise during the heat of the day and examine your pup's paws for abrasions regularly, especially after hiking rough terrain. As with his exercise plan, Buddy's diet should consider his health, age and breed. Pairing his exercise with a well-balanced diet will put him on the road to good health.
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