This article is part of our series on “How to Care For Your ESA”. Emotional support animal care is a topic that all ESA owners need to know about. Ensuring your ESA is happy and healthy will mean that they can enjoy a great life. Also, an ESA that’s well cared for will be able to provide the excellent emotional support and companionship that their owner depends on.
ESA exercise is a topic that people tend to have lots of questions about. How much exercise does my ESA need? What exercise activities are best for emotional support animals? Which are the most high- or low-maintenance ESAs? Read on as we answer all of these commonly asked ESA exercise questions.
How Often Should Your ESA Exercise?
Well… how long is a piece of string? The answer is that it depends. There are many different types of emotional support animals. Different ESA species provide love and support for people all over the country. In 2020, emotional support dogs, cats, pigs, and rabbits (and even support goats and horses!) are popular choices.
The exercise requirements of different ESA species vary considerably. Even within the most common ESA species, dogs, there are numerous different breeds, each with their own unique exercise needs.
As a general distinction, it is helpful to think of emotional support animals in two categories. There are low-maintenance ESAs, which will need more moderate amounts of exercise, or sometimes no exercise at all; and there are high-maintenance ESAs, who will need lots of regular exercise.
Exercise Requirements For High-Maintenance ESAs
High-maintenance ESAs are generally larger animals that require lots of open space and a lot of exercise. These ESAs are only suitable to be kept in homes that have plenty of outdoor space and by owners who have the time and energy to exercise them very regularly. Many high maintenance ESAs require vigorous exercise multiple times a day.
Some of the most popular high maintenance ESAs are dogs that were originally bred to do energetic work, such as Border Collies and Australian Shepherds. These good-natured, enthusiastic dogs come from a long line of sheepdogs and are in their element herding large flocks on windy, wide-open plains and mountainsides. They have seemingly endless energy and need to be exercised a lot.
Other high-maintenance ESAs are quite popular in certain parts of the country, such as emotional support horses, which require a lot of space and ample exercise opportunities. It is important that if you decide to get a high-maintenance ESA, you are certain that you have the time, space, and energy to provide for their exercise needs.
Exercise Requirements For Low-Maintenance ESAs
Low-maintenance ESAs, such as smaller dog breeds, cats, pigs, and rodents, require less exercise and less space. They are usually well suited to owners who have a lack of mobility or who live in small homes or apartments. Often people with busy schedules, who do not have time to exercise their ESA for long periods, will choose a low-maintenance ESA.
Popular low-maintenance dog breeds include the Dachshund, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and West Highland Terrier. These dogs need to be walked regularly, but due to their small legs, they cannot walk very far or fast. A leisurely stroll around the park once a day is all the exercise these low-maintenance ESA dogs need.
For even lower maintenance, you could get an ESA cat, rat, or pot-bellied pig. These animals love human company and often love to play, but they do not need to be walked or exercised extensively. A pot-bellied pig will enjoy a regular play in the garden or park – they need to be allowed to root and dig in the ground, as this is their nature – but long walks are not necessary. A cat or a rat won’t need to be walked at all, and some home play either indoors or outside will suffice.
Why Is Exercise So Important For Your ESA?
Exercise is important for your ESA because all living creatures need to use their bodies in accordance with how they have evolved. It is a case of “use it or lose it”. If an animal is built to be active, such as a sheepdog, then its body will fall into ill health if it is not given sufficient opportunity to exercise.
Exercise keeps your ESA’s muscles strong and supple; its fat levels in a healthy range; and its heart, lungs, and other bodily systems in good working order. When your ESA gets enough exercise it will be happy, healthy, and great company. It will sleep well, eat well, and be eager to provide you with companionship and emotional support.
What Are The Negative Effects Of An ESA Not Getting Enough Exercise?
If an ESA does not get sufficient exercise for its needs it will be more likely to:
- Get sick
- Develop injuries and disease
- Become depressed and anxious
- Be restless, noisy, and difficult to manage
Basically, an ESA that is not given enough exercise will be unhappy and unhealthy. This is why it is so crucial to make sure that you give your emotional support pet the right amount of exercise for its needs.
Exercising Your ESA Is Also Very Beneficial For You
Engaging in regular exercise activities for your emotional support animal also benefits you. Many ESA owners, like many people in general, struggle to motivate themselves to get enough exercise. But just like ESAs, humans need sufficient exercise too.
Having to exercise your ESA every day will mean that you get outdoors and moving too. Exercise has massive benefits for humans – it keeps us healthy, free from illness, strong, comfortable in our bodies, and emotionally healthy. A brisk walk around the park with your ESA dog will get your blood flowing, lungs pumping, and expose you to healthy sunshine and fresh air.
Exercise is crucial for your ESA, and it’s crucial for you. So getting outdoors and moving with your ESA is a win/win!