Happy Pet.
 by Laurie Buckley!

Passion 4 Pooches, Articles by Laurie Buckley

Regular exercise is the secret to a well-behaved pet.

A neighbor recently dragged his couch out to the curb to be picked up by the trash collector. His 7 -month-old German Sheppard had eaten it. A friend regularly complains that her 10-month-old Lab, Left to his own devices in the yard, digs up her gardens, barks incessantly and escapes under the fence. And a relative is being driven crazy a 2-year-old Cocka-A-Poo who steals underwear, races circles through the house and jumps on the coffee table.

I have great sympathy for those dog owners. My family brought Scooby-Doo, aka the Dog From Hell, into our home. Scooby-Doo was a 50-pound Lab-Sheppard mix that did all of the above and more.

These dogs all have something in common. They are not getting enough regular and sustained exercise. Exercise is secret to a well behaved dog that many pet owners don't know, and maybe don't want to know. Let's face it. Some of us are not exercising ourselves enough, never mind the doge. But remember most of these breeds were bred for hundreds of years to perform a job. That job kept them mentally and physically challenged. While most dogs no longer perform their jobs, they still have the same need for stimulation. Expecting young and even some older dogs, to be couch potatoes is not realistic. Dogs will stimulate their minds and bodies, most likely in ways that will not make you happy. Like eating the couch.

For the average medium to large-sixed dog, a minimum of 30 to 45 minutes of daily exercise is needed to make a noticeable difference in their manners in the house.

Depending on the breed double that amount may be necessary. And small dogs need exercise too, just not as much.
Walking your dog is great exercise for you and your dog and offers a great bonding opportunity. There are great places in Fernandina Beach to walk you dog on a leash, such as through the historic downtown and Egans Creek. The state parks also allow dogs on the trails but not on the beaches. Dogs are, however, allowed on the other beaches on Amelia Island. And beach walking boosts the workout up a notch. Ceasar Milan, aka the Dog Whisperer, has an idea I love for increasing the level of your dog's workout by outfitting him with a canine back pack and allowing him to carry your water, keys, ect. Of course, always remember to clean up after your dog no matter where you exercise him. And dogs that don't walk nicely on a leash require training, which by the way, is also great mental and physical stimulation.
If you have a fenced yard, throw the tennis ball or Frisbee for your furry friend. Or contact the local kennel club to find out about classes for fly ball or agility. Maybe you can get a few friends together and have a doggy play date. Dogs that play nicely together will exercise each other even better than we can.

Exercising your pet will also help reduce your pet's waistline (and maybe yours too!).

Too many of our pets are overweight and even obese. And while that is the subject of a whole other column, exercise can go a long way to maintaining, and even lowering your pet's weight.

Oh, and for you cat owners out there, cats need exercise too. Especially kittens. If your cat, which is a nocturnal animal, is keeping you up at night, racing through the house, attacking your feet while you sleep, then you have a kitty with too much energy. Buy him a leash and harness and take him for a stroll in the neighborhood. A cat will get use to a leash and harness if you start early. Or get a few of the great toys they have out for cats, such as a pole toy, that will give your cat something too chase.

The bottom line is that with regular exercise, you will have a happier and more will-balanced companion, and he'll get into a lot less mischief!