Whether human or animal, sports and recreation have demonstrated a surprising number of mental and emotional benefits. Anything from a challenging dog yoga session to a calming afternoon of golf can make for hours of enjoyment—whether on two or four legs!
Most dogs love physical activity, but it isn’t always for the reasons you assume. If you’re considering engaging your dog in a recreational sport, here are a few mental and emotional benefits they might experience.
Some dogs demonstrate natural curiosities and abilities, such as tracking scents or jumping hurdles. By positively reinforcing this inherent behavior, you provide your dog with a productive outlet.
Take this scenario—athletic or high-energy dogs require frequent stimulation. Without a means to release this energy, they can become destructive, engaging in biting, digging, and incessant barking. By introducing them to a recreational sport, dogs become more mentally stimulated and are less likely to indulge in unwanted behaviors.
Connecting with a new dog can be challenging, especially when you spend regular hours away from home. Fortunately, dedicating some time to a daily recreational sport can help strengthen your relationship.
Sports such as obedience rallies or agility courses can improve communication and focus between humans and animals.
Alternatively, more laid-back recreational activities like golf can improve patience between both parties. Plus, along with your traditional training aids, your dog can add a little flair to your swing! If your dog is a runner, take your long-distance drivers along—they’ll love to chase the ball for you.
Sports aren’t always competitive. So while claiming a top spot in your local canine rally or cashing in a first-place check is a welcome source of pride, enrolling your dog in a sport isn’t just about the material rewards.
Getting your dog to come out of its shell and enjoy itself is often a reward in itself. Bored dogs can become depressed and destructive, so engaging their natural inclinations to play is a joy for both parties.
Improved Social Skills
Some pets are more challenging to integrate than others. If your dog isn’t particularly interested in your family members or other pets, finding equilibrium within your household can feel impossible. However, enrolling your dog in a sport that every family member can engage in provides ample opportunity to improve its social skills.
Say you’re signing up for an obedience class. Rotating your dog’s handler can significantly improve your pet’s social skills and make them more comfortable around strangers.
Yes, dogs are capable of developing stress conditions like depression, anxiety, and PTSD. The good news is, providing them with a healthy outlet makes for a simple and effective solution.
Suppose your dog is a stress eater. By incorporating food into their routine from a different perspective—such as obedience training or scent work—you can eliminate unwanted behavior while allowing your dog to relieve food-related stress.
The Bottom Line
Dogs have more complicated personalities than you might anticipate. Without the appropriate physical outlets and emotional stimulation, they can become anxious, aggressive, or depressed.
Fortunately, many recreational sports are often enough to reverse destructive or harmful behaviors. So the next time you notice your dog chewing ceaselessly at your couch cushion or table leg, it might be time to consider a sport!
Guest Blog Written by: Jordan Fuller, Main Editor, Golf Coach & Expert with Golf Influence.
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