A dog whose exercise needs are met may rest more calmly at home and be less fretful when left alone. The modern dog-management mantra of “A good dog is a tired dog” is gospel to many people. Exercise can improve bone and joint health. Heart and lung function can improve. Sport and working dogs need the right exercise to be able to perform well. Exercise makes show dogs look better and feel better to a judge’s exploring hands.

Some exercise is better than other exercise. The best exercise channels the activity of both mind and body. The best exercise is purposeful, with a purpose that increases the dog’s ability to live happily in human society. The best exercise is balanced by teaching the dog how to be calm and physically composed through regular practice of this skill.

Excessive or inappropriate exercise can damage a dog’s body and mind. Jumping high in the air to chase a toy and landing awkwardly has crippled many dogs. The epidemic of dog knee injuries testifies to the results of human thinking that “if some is good, more is better” when it comes to wild canine exercise.

You don’t need to take up marathon running in order to adequately exercise your dog, and in fact you could harm your dog that way. Walks with your dog can be great for both of you, but even these don’t have to be long distance.

Go to training classes with your dog to learn how to give purpose to your outings together-several months of classes for large and working-type breeds. Practice and use the skills you learn in class when you’re out with your dog. Choose places for your outings that help you form the right belief system in your dog’s mind for the temperament your dog needs to live safely with humans. A dog that tries to “guard” against all strangers is neither happy nor likely to live out a full lifespan. Help your dog learn to enjoy human society and to enjoy meeting friendly people.

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