This article is contributed by guest writer Jordan Fuller (Golf Influence).
5 Surprising Benefits of Playing Sports with Your Pet
It really benefits everyone to add a bit more exercise to their daily routines. The American Heart Association recommends a minimum of 150 minutes per week of heart-pumping exercise, but most of us struggle to get that in without neglecting everything else in life!
If you want to get your exercise in and make your pet extra happy as well, why not try playing sports with your pets? You don’t need to find the time to take your dog for a run and get your own run in too if you can do them at the same time!
Every kind of pet can benefit from more exercise, and so can we. It naturally boosts our fitness levels, our cardiovascular strength, and our muscle tone, which improves metabolism. But here are 5 surprising benefits of playing sports with your pet that you may not have thought of before.
It Gets Rid of Your Pet’s Excess Energy
Do you have a dog who tears up the garden? Or a cat who rips the furniture apart? Most of the time, these kinds of actions are simply down to one thing—boredom. Your pet may not know what to do with all the pent-up energy they have, so it ends up being released in destructive ways.
Play more sports with your pet, though, and you may be shocked at how much this bad behavior diminishes! When your pet’s energy is going towards something physical like running, jumping, and playing, there’s none of that anxious buzzing energy left when they get back home.
Prepare for your tired pet to crash when you get home! And if you spend the day away from home and need your pet to chill during the day, take them for good exercise in the morning before you head off to work.
It Can Help Your Pet to Become More Socialized
Got a single pet who doesn’t have a canine/feline friend to keep them company? Loneliness can have devastating effects on pets, and unfortunately, they often need the company of their own kind and not just their human.
Getting involved in sports with your pet gives them the chance to be around other pets too. It’s a great way to
a) train your pet to socialize with other animals,
b) get them used to unfamiliar humans, and
c) allow them some bonding time with other animals rather than humans.
This can do wonders for their mental health, their temperament, and their training! If your pet is still untrained, though, keep them on the leash and close to you until they’ve proven themselves to be friendly to the people and pets around.
Increased Health For Pet and Owner!
We all have our favorite forms of exercise. But it can be tricky to get your daily run done, do some strength training too, and also find time to walk the dog or play with the cat.
Playing sports with your pet means you’re getting your exercise at the same time that they’re getting theirs. It’s a win-win situation! Nobody’s health and well-being end up getting neglected.
And playing sports really does improve health for both you and your pet. If either of you is carrying extra pounds, prepare to lose them as long as you’re eating a calorie-controlled diet.
You can also expect your cardiovascular health to improve, to gain some muscle, for your metabolism to speed up, and to feel better in general about your own and your pet’s health.
Did we mention that exercise is amazing for mental health, too? Your pets need mental stimulation, excitement, fun, and interaction with others as much as you do. Playing sports together is an excellent way to give both of you a mental health boost too!
It’s a Great Opportunity for Training
Depending on the sport you want to play with your pet, you may need to train them to a certain level before you can do it. If you just want to let them off the leash in the park and throw the frisbee for them, then all you need to do is make sure they aren’t going to bite a stranger.
But if you’re going to be partaking in any sport that includes multiple other animals are also doing, your dog needs to be better trained to deal with all the excitement of strange people and animals.
Of course, there’s also the element of training your pet for the sport. Many pet sports—agility, nose work, obedience, etc—require the pet and owner to work closely together in order to be successful.
You’ll need to spend time training your pet to do things right. But this is a great way to train your pet while they’re having some fun!
It’s a Great Chance to Strengthen Your Bond
Your pet loves you. And of course, you love them. But when you play sports together, expect that bond to strengthen. Even just going for a run together requires a certain level of trust in each other.
Training your pet for a sport, practicing together, and taking part in competitive events together is an amazing ways to bond with your pet. You become a dream team, a dynamic duo! It’s a way of bonding that you just don’t get until you venture into the world of sports with your pet.
As you can see, the benefits of playing sports with your pet affect both you and your beloved fluff! While our pets are active during the day, sometimes that’s not quite enough to keep them mentally and physically stimulated. And an under-stimulated pet is a bored pet… Which could equal a destructive animal!
Wondering what kind of sports to play with your pet? Both dogs and cats can take part in agility training, which is perfect for animals with energy and a will to please their humans. They can also both do nose work, also called scent work.
Dogs can do canicross (cross-country running with their human), bikejoring (cycling with your dog), canine freestyle (dog dancing!), and disc dog (frisbee).
Even if you own a horse, a cow, or a hamster, there are ways and means to play sports with them too! All it requires is some creativity and a love for your pet! Remember to make sure your pet is safe, stays hydrated, and enjoys themselves!