Why is exercise so important for dogs?

Loads of people think that dogs make great companions. Even Mom thought that and had visions of a dog who would lie quietly by her feet, looking up at her with adoration as she worked, or read or watched TV. Little did she realize that we dogs can be very active creatures, especially when we’re still puppies, and have loads of energy to burn off every day. We love to run,  jump and even do zoomies when the mood hits us.

My mom will be the first to admit that I’m a bundle of energy. She has struggled to keep up with me from the moment she brought me home. She has told people that she’s lost about 3 kilos  since she got me. And when she had her medical exam recently, her cholesterol has also come down by quite a bit. You’re welcome, Mom!

Having read up on all the dog advice, Mom learned straight away that exercise is the answer to lots of problems humans face with their dogs. When we’re tired out from exercising, we’re calmer and gentler creatures. Less cranky and manic. And we take to training much more easily too. And needless to say, our appetite and sleep also improve.

I remember one of the first times we went out to a park and bumped into a guy who told Mom that he had never taken his poodle out for a walk.  For years! And they live in an apartment! I felt so sorry for his poor dog. Whew! Thank goodness my mom takes me for walks every day. In fact, walks are probably one of the easiest ways to exercise us.

In fact, my mom is so diligent about walking me that we do it twice a day, without fail, come rain or shine. From the moment we wake up, or rather, when I wake her up gently by making tiny noises, we’re out the door. I can hear Mom muttering under her breath sometimes that the sun isn’t even up yet. From tiny, puppy steps, we’re progressing to walking around the condo and its surroundings twice. Multiply that by two times every day and Mom puts in about 5000 human steps. Imagine how many that is in much smaller poodle steps!

Mom is very good about letting me veer off our usual path to stick my nose in bushes, pillars and other corners, but she keeps me moving when I tend to lag a bit. When I was smaller, I was the one dashing here and there, rushing her off her feet. Now I’m a little more circumspect and take off at a mere trot instead. I do like to climb the steps in the courtyard and have a lie down in the sun. It’s nice out when I can watch the birds (and cats) but Mom hurries me along usually.

Even when it’s drizzling, we’ll still head off, darting from one covered area to another. Despite Mom’s best efforts, we still get wet. I love those times because it means I get to splash in the puddles without Mom yelling at me. She’s even looked into getting me a raincoat after we met a lady at the park who was taking her Alsatian for a walk and he had a raincoat on. He looked pretty cool. But Mom knows me too well and figures that if she put any protective gear on me, I would just struggle to get it off. So what’s a little rain? After our walk, Mom just wipes me down with a warm towel and if necessary, dries my hair with the hairdryer.

On our rounds, we do bump into other residents out walking their dogs, although no one is as diligent about walks as we are. Ask Mom and she can tell you the names of the other dogs but she has no idea who the owners are. She’s not very good at remembering human names. There are a few other poodles, like Bibo  who’s an annoying boy, and Layla, as well as Nala the beagle. With the three of us, Mom says it’s like living in Lala Land! There are a few other pomeranians and shih tzus, but they aren’t so friendly, and one is downright rude, if you ask me, always snarling and coming after me.

There are also cats. Boy, are there many cats. They seem to be out on their own all the time and don’t have to be on leashes. No fair. They can look ever so sweet and demure, but give them half a chance and they’ll pounce out at me and Mom. One ginger has scratched Mom before, so we give him a wide berth to the extent of taking another route home if he happens to lie right across our usual pathway. But in general I’m quite chilled about cats. My attitude is that if you do your thing and don’t invade my space, we can quite easily co-exist.

On our walks at the couple of parks we’ve been to, Mom has discovered that I love to climb. Just show me a slope and I’ll show you how fast I can dash up it. In the beginning Mom would trail after me, but she’s no match for me, especially when I’m let off the leash. I’ll do a mad scramble up and run along the slope itself. I must have been some sort of mountain dog in a past life, maybe a Bernese mountain dog? I quite like the idea of being Swiss! I love the sheer exhilaration of going up and down slopes, no matter how steep they are. Very unpoodle-like, I know, but hey, I never claimed to be a girly-girl in the first place.

Just last week, Mom discovered a grassy corner of the condo tucked away out of sight,  that’s surrounded by slopes on two sides. We checked it out, and because it’s secured and there’s no one around, she can let me off the leash. Oh, what fun I’ve had there. After just one visit, I know exactly where it is and will drag Mom to the stairs leading down to the garden. One section of the slope is very high, 20 feet at least. It’s also steep but that poses no problem for me. I’ll zip right up, and just to give Mom a little scare, perch right at the top before deigning to come back down.

As Mom always claims, exercise is the answer to most of misbehaving among dogs, and so she’ll always make sure I get enough of it. It’s really a win-win situation for the both of us, actually. So if you want a dog that’s happy, healthy, calm and well-adjusted, a dog that eats and sleeps well and has a good constitution, just make sure you exercise him!

Of course, being a poodle, looking goood is a must when we’re out walking. Mom has gotten a couple of great looking collars with matching leashes. Remember, I’m not the frou-frou type so no cutesy looks or rhinestone bling for me. No angel wings or frilly tutus either. Just a trendy activewear look. I especially like the collar and leash combo in red polka dots, because bright red goes very well with my coloring The collars are also personalized, so that I can be identified in case, God forbid, I go missing. Mom has also had me try out some harnesses which are supposedly more secure and don’t choke me if I pull, but generally I’m quite well-behaved in public and prefer a collar. Harnesses take forever to put on and I don’t like to waste time when we go out.

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