Whether your dog is a big working breed or a small pocket-sized pet, a youngster or in doggy old age, your dog needs daily exercise to stay healthy and happy. Without the appropriate dose of daily exercise, dogs can become obese, bored, and sometimes turn to destructive behaviors.
Exercise helps to tone up a dog’s muscles and it helps the body systems, especially the metabolic system, function properly. The right type of exercise also engages and stimulates the dog’s mind. The type of exercise a dog needs are based on the dog’s physical condition, age, breed, and size.
How much exercise each dog needs can be confusing
Most dogs need between 30 minutes and two hours of activity each and every day I order to stay healthy. How much exercise your dog needs can be tough to determine, especially if your dog is a mixed breed. A dog’s need for exercise will be predominantly determined by the breed from which the dog is descended.
For instance, the breeds needing the most exercise are the dogs who are descended from the hunting, herding, or working group of dogs such as hounds, collies, shepherds, and Labrador retrievers. A healthy dog in one of these groups must have at least 30 minutes daily of vigorous exercise plus 1 or 2 hours of active play. Short nosed breeds like bulldogs do not need a lot of daily exercise, and can be quite content with a calm, casual walk around the block.
Dogs with minimal exercise requirements include Toy Poodles, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Miniature Pinschers, Pekinese and pugs. One step up from this level of exercise is a group of dogs requiring low amounts of exercise: Basset Hounds, Beagles, Yorkshire, Parson Russell, and West Highland White Terriers, Chihuahuas, Greyhounds, Miniature Poodles, Dachshunds, Pembroke Welsh Corgis and Pomeranians.
Dogs with medium exercise requirements include: Afghans, Airedales, Boxers, Cairn Terriers, Chow Chows, Collies, German Shepherds, Golden and Labrador Retrievers, Rottweilers, Standard Poodles and Whippets. The highest needs for exercise are found among the: Australia Shepherds, Border Collies, Dobermans, English, Gordon and Irish Setters, Newfoundlands and Siberian Huskies.
While your dog’s breed(s) determine to some extent the amount of exercise your dog needs, there are also other factors to take into account. It is important to pay attention to your dog’s health status and age, and to determine how much activity it okay for your dog. It is also important to pay attention to your dog, as some dogs prefer to be very active, and some are more inclined to be less active.
Before you start any exercise program, be sure to check with your veterinarian regarding your dog’s health status. Most veterinarians can recommend an exercise plane that is in accord with your dog’s breed, age and physical condition.
Once you get your vet’s okay to begin an exercise program, begin slowly at first, working your way up to the longer, and more intense exercise routines gradually. Let your dog be the guide here. Most dogs will stop when they are too tired to go further. Be sure to allow time in the exercise program for a warm-up period before the exercise time and a cool-down period after your dog has finished exercising. A nice, relaxing walk before and after intense exercise works wonders for both you and your dog.
Fun and innovative ways to exercise your dog
Dogs get bored with exercises that are the same thing every day. Changing up your dog’s exercise routine can keep your dog’s interest and make it more fun for both of you. Here are some ideas for a fun time with your dog:
- Let your dog walk you
Most likely both you and your dog are tired of the same trails you walk on a daily basis. Even the odors are pretty much the same, and that is what your dog is investigating as he or she sniffs around. Your dog wants to know who else has been in his territory since yesterday, but otherwise is pretty much bored with the rest of the walk unless a neighbor stops to speak to you and to her. So, let your dog take you for a walk. Together you can discover new scents (okay maybe you cannot smell them, but your dog will love them), see new sights, greet different people, and discover new trails together.
- Agility training
For dogs with a lot of energy, an agility kit is the perfect thing to help them burn it off constructively. There are indoor agility kits as well as outdoor agility kits you can get to set up an agility course for your dog. Working dogs especially love the agility fun times as they mimic some of the work their ancestors were trained to do, talents for which are inbred in your working dog.
While not all dogs are breeds with tracking skills, most dogs can participate in tracking as a sport. You only need to lay out a scent trail a couple of hours before your outing with your dog and put something the dog will enjoy at the end of the trail. Then introduce your dog to the scent and ask your dog to follow the trail. You may have to encourage your dog’s attention to the trail with treats the first time out, but once your dog gets the hang of the game, he or she will eagerly track to the end to retrieve the prize the next time.
- Fetch indoors or out
A simple game of fetch played either indoors in inclement weather or outdoors in the sunshine can serve the purpose of getting your dog the needed exercise.
This is the favorite game of most dogs as it mimics the work their ancestors had to do to feed themselves. Unfortunately humans wear out playing this game much faster than dogs do. Fortunately, a toy that captures all the excitement of tug-of-war and is sized for every dog’s mouth as well as activity level is the Tether Tug.
However you and your dog decide to get the exercise your dog needs to stay healthy, be sure it is something you both enjoy.