Anxious dogs could benefit from exercise, study finds

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Veterinarians have found that social exercise can reduce dogs’ anxiety levels. They found that playing sports increased the chances of recovery for dogs with generalized anxiety disorder.

Flyball, a form of relay event involving dog teams, agility classes, and Canine Freestyle, in which pets dance to choreographed routines with their owners, are examples of dog sports.

“Canine athletic activities were highly effective in treating generally anxious dogs, with just over three times the odds of improvement,” said the researchers from Tufts University in Massachusetts and the Center for Canine Behavior Studies. in Connecticut.

Researchers assessed 1,308 dogs with at least one kind of fearful or anxious behavior for the study, which was published in the Journal of Veterinary Behaviour.

Two hundred and seventy-three of these dogs had generalized anxiety disorder, a condition in which the dog experiences continuous or near-constant anxiety or fear regardless of context, affecting their quality of life.

Professor Nicholas Dodman, a veterinarian and one of the study’s authors, said dogs “particularly benefit from activities that feed into their inherent inclinations”.

A sheepdog, for example, benefited greatly from the sheep herding lessons.

“The dog was a nervous wreck,” Prof Dodman said. “I offered the owner to take him to sheep-breeding lessons. After several trials with real sheep, he settled in straight away. His anxious demeanor was gone.

The study concluded: “The reason for the beneficial effect of practicing sports activities may be due to the physiological benefits of mobilization but also to the psychological aspects of social integration, achievement and pleasure.”

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