Exercising your dog

Exercising with your dog is a great way for humans and dogs alike to burn some calories but is important for the dog’s mental stimulation as well.

Regular exercise has been shown to reduce unwanted behaviours such as chewing, scavenging and excessive barking. All dogs need daily exercise, but we do need to do this safely and the breed and age of the animal need to be considered for the level of exercise.

Start slow if your dog is not accustomed to being physically active. Observe her responses, adding more activities or longer durations as she gets stronger. Your dog should be happily tired, not exhausted when you are done exercising her for the day. And remember that for most dogs, adding daily activities will NOT result in a need for more calories.

Prior to exercising with your dog or puppy, here are some things to consider:

Assess the exercise needs and fitness level of your pet

Dogs have different exercise requirements depending on their individual needs, e.g. more active dogs may require more exercise each day compared to an average pet dog. Most dogs need a walk or a visit to the dog park once or twice a day.

PUPPIES: It is not recommended to run and jump dogs while their joints are developing. For most dogs, this is under the age of 1 but will be later for giant breed dogs. Puppies should also be fully vaccinated before going for walks in public spaces.

SENIORS: These dogs still need exercise to help maintain weight and keep their muscles and joints moving. However, we do want to ensure it is low impact exercise and limit running and jumping that can jar arthritis joints. Hydrotherapy can be great exercise for these guys.

TOY BREEDS: These little cuties often get overlooked in terms of exercise (probably because they look so sweet in your purse!). But they actually have a propensity for obesity. The good news is that toy breeds are super easy to exercise indoors.

PUGS, BULLDOGS (BRITISH AND ENGLISH) AND OTHER SHORT NOSED DOGS: Any breed with a short or flat nose can have trouble breathing. Keep exercise light, take breaks when needed, and don’t exercise outside in hot and humid weather.

TERRIERS: These guys have a reputation for being energetic. They’ll do well with at least 60 minutes of exercise daily.

SIGHTHOUNDS: Sighthounds like Greyhounds and Whippets are sprinters and better suited for short, intense bursts. They probably aren’t your best jogging buddies, but they excel at interval training.

HUNTING, WORKING AND HERDING DOGS (such as Labrador Retrievers, hounds, collies and Shepherds): Workers by nature, herding dogs are larger and get bored quickly. This means they have higher exercise needs and crave more rigorous activity. Exercising twice a day for up to two hours total is beneficial.

Check the temperature outside

Dogs can overheat if exercising in warm temperatures. A dog only sweats through their pads and they lose body heat through panting, so exercise in the morning or late evening when the temperature is cooler is advisable during the warmer months. Hot pavements or sand can also burn your pet’s feet.

Don’t exercise your pet immediately before or after they’ve eaten

This can cause problems such as bloating, especially in deep-chested dogs.

During exercise

  • Walk your pet based on how long they should be exercising for e.g. Take a puppy for short walks only.
  • Stop to rest if your pet sits or lies down during the walk, and then continue walking when they are ready to get up again.
  • Stop walking and return home if your pet seems too tired to continue.
  • Watch out for signs of fatigue, such as your pet panting, slowing their pace, or lagging behind you or stopping. If you notice this, allow them to rest.
  • Watch for overheating, such as your pet panting excessively, drooling, showing signs of agitation/confusion or vomiting. If this happens, move them to a cooler place and shade immediately. Apply tepid/cool water to their fur/skin, belly and under legs followed by fanning, to cool them down quickly. Then take your pet to the nearest Veterinarian immediately as heatstroke is a life-threatening emergency.


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