Keep your dog active and engaged for a long and contented life



That couch-potato pooch of yours needs to get outside and move.

Any dog that spends all day zonked on the couch is not only doing little to stay engaged with the outside world, but might also be developing more than a few health problems right under your nose, according to celebrity dog trainer Chrissy Joy.

Joy never thought she’d spend her life performing and working on sets with her, now, 5 dogs. In fact, as a child, the host of the Dog Moms on DOGTV loved animals, but was so anxious it was hard for her to leave the house.

“Then I got a beagle and fell in love with training her,” Joy told The Post. “When I was training her, the rest of the world stopped.”

In her 20s, she adopted her own dog and discovered a potential new career. “I found this amazing outlet working with my dogs on set,” said Joy, an international trick dog champion, live performer, studio canine trainer and educator. She’s also slated to be a judge alongside a “Dancing with the Stars” celebrity on a doggy dancing show this summer.

“With my dog out there with me, I’m good — and never anxious,” she said.

Here are her tips for keeping your pup active and healthy.

Your dog isn’t tired — he’s actually bored

Convincing yourself that your dog likes being lethargic, that sleeping all day is in his breed or suits his (or your) lifestyle isn’t wise.

Dog trainer Chrissy Joy believes dogs who stayed locked up in the house can experience more health issues. Jack McCauley

“If a dog spends more time in his dog bed than up and about, it’s a matter of the dog not knowing the opportunities in front of him,” Joy told The Post. “I have an almost 10-year-old dog and, if you give him the opportunity to lay around and do nothing, he will, but if I bring out a puzzle toy or do a trick-training session he will be happy to go off and do that. Our pets are shaped by the lifestyle that we create for them.”

Count calories

What you feed your dog makes a huge difference in their metabolism and hormones, whether your vet wants your dog to maintain weight, lose weight or, even, gain weight.

Speak to your vet about how many calories your dog truly needs, and don’t forget to count the treats.

“If you feed your dog daily meals and then add on lots of treats and chews, you’re giving your dog a huge calorie load so you need to prepare for that,” cautioned Joy. “For example, if I’m going to work my dogs on a film set for the day and use lots of treats, I’ll offset their meals to balance that out.”

It can be second nature for your dog to expect you to give a high-calorie treat as a reward for good behavior, but there are other options that are way healthier.

Joy’s favorite brand is Benebone, a flavorful chew toy. “These are useful as a way to engage your pet,” she said. “They will keep your pet busy, but your dog can’t eat them. Or, you can put healthy alternatives in a chewy toy like a Kong and you’ll give your dog the mental enrichment that helps your pet remain engaged.”

Go out and walk — it’ll help both of you

You don’t have to jump into daily jogs or sign up for a marathon to maximize the health benefits you’ll both experience. (Plus, long runs can be hard on your pooches’ joints as well as yours.)

“It might be fun to do Couch to 5K since this means you’ll both start out slow,” Joy said of the app that gradually trains you up for a 5k distance run. “Ultimately, getting outside into the fresh air is good for your mental health, but providing what I call a ‘sniffari’ will help your dog exponentially—a simple walk outside uses their strongest sense, which is their nose.”

Chrissy Joy - Dog trainer
Fuji the dog
In her 20s, she adopted her own dog and discovered a potential new career. “I found this amazing outlet working with my dogs on set,” said Joy. Michael Cole

Recognize behavioral issues in time

Ask Joy and she’ll tell you that dogs are like soda bottles. “If you shake a soda bottle up and never give it an outlet, you’re creating pressure,” she said. “In dog terms, this leads to anxiety, overstimulation and reactivity.”

So, if they don’t get the chance to regularly get their hearts pumping, they’re probably sitting around at home all day with all this pent-up energy and nothing to do with it.

Joy’s trick to help with this boredom: Puzzle toys. “There are so many things to do with these, which is why I’m a fan,” she said. “You can put kibble in them and your dogs can roll them and bop them all over the apartment as they try to get the food out.”

In fact, Joy suggests feeding your dog via a puzzle toy instead of putting their food in a bowl on the floor. This not only slows down their feeding, but it helps them burn mental energy in the process. “This satiates their seek-and-find drive and, in turn, reduces other behaviors, such as nipping or biting. We don’t want that to happen — ever.”

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