Physical Stimulation (Exercise) – James O’Heare and Steven R Lindsay


Exercise is a miracle cure if there ever was one!  A tired dog is a good dog.  You have no doubt heard this quite a bit.  It turns out that there is a sound physiological basic for this statement besides physical exhaustion.  Research indicates that physical stimulation exerts a significant, therapeutic influence on the physiology of the dog.  Exercise stimulates the production of serotonin.  It would seam that there is a physiological basis for the suggested use of chronic physical stimulation in cases involving any form of stress, anxiety or reactivity.  Steven R Lindsay describes its use this way:  “the finding that exercise enhances serotonergic activity is of considerable importance with respect to the use of exercise for the managementof stress-related behavior problems”.  Daily exercise was found to generate pronounced and sustained enhancement of serotonin metabolism in various areas of the brain, including the cerebral cortex.

First stop is your vet to get you dog a full physical evaluation.  Have your dog evaluated for any issues that may impact upon an exercise program such as obesity, arthritis, hip dysplasia etc.

Dogs are much like humans.  Some are in good physical shape and others are not.  If your dog has not been leading a physically active life you will have to gradually increase physical stimulation over a period of weeks.  Avoid starting a heavy physical exercise program  all at once.  You cannot answer the question of what is adequate without assessing the exercise requirements of the breed and the age of the dog.  Dogs under the age of 1 year require lots of exercise but should avoid any form of exercise that is jarring on the joints, especially large breed dogs.  Generally sled dogs, herding dogs and sportings dogs require hours of physical stimulation each day.

Whichever kind of exercise plan you devise, make sure that he gets 5-10 minutes of warm up and cool down time.

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