There is more to your dog’s health than a trip to the vet and keeping a proper diet. Regular exercise is a vital part of a dog’s health. Adding it to your daily routine reduces stress for your pet, and less stressed dogs make for better behaved, more friendly, and calmer companions. Additionally, it improves their metabolism and other bodily functions.
How far should I walk my dogs?
Experts recommend daily exercise routines ranging from 30 minutes for dogs that require less exercise, to 2 hours or more for dogs that need more intense exercise. When translating this to distances, this can often range from anywhere between 1 to 8 miles per day. Although this may seem excessive, you can often use tricks such as dog ball launchers to increase the amount and intensity of your dogs exercise routine.
Though it’s recommended that dogs exercise each day, each dog likely needs a different exercise regime and intensity, which should be based on your pet’s age, current health, breed, and other factors. You will often be able to identify whether your dog is being over or under exercised based on their behaviour after a walk – if they sleep for a long time, you may be over exercising, and if they are extremely active even after a walk, they likely need a much longer walk.
Exercise Intensive Dogs
A dog’s breed is a major factor in determining its exercise needs. Breeds that require a great deal of exercise include the Golden Retriever, Weimaraner, Dalmatians, German Shepherd, Boxer, Border Collie, and the Australian Shephard. Bred for hunting, herding, and pointing, these breeds are athletic, agile, and packed full of energy. In an environment where they are kept as companions rather than for work, they need plenty of exercise to burn energy that would otherwise have been expended during work. Keeping these breeds active is key to keeping them out of mischief.
With growing dogs, regardless of breed, leave out any endurance exercises like running, or long walks of hard or uneven surfaces. Until fully grown, younger dogs (ages 9 to 12 months) run the risk of injuring their under-developed epiphyseal growth plates.
Less Exercise Intensive Dogs
When living with senior dogs – 7 years or older, longer recovery times may be needed between exercise. Similar to human beings, muscle mass is lost as your pet ages. As such, balancing the frequency and repetition of exercise with your dog’s age is essential in keeping your pet happy. Dog owners with a preference for an active breed have also taken home mature rescues. If patient enough to rehome and retrain a mature rescue dog, you may end up with a loving companion from any breed with less demanding exercise requirements. Former racing greyhounds have been known to quickly adapt to new environments, and are quite comfortable with short daily walks.
Some dog lovers may not have the luxury of frequently exercising with their dog. Smaller breeds are capable of meeting their exercise needs just by running after a ball. Dogs originally bred for companionship rather than work have lower exercise requirements. These breeds include the iconic Bulldog, Chihuahua, Greyhound, Maltese, Pug, Shih Tzu, and the Yorkshire Terrier. Senior dog owners who are up for slow walks can also consider the strong but short-legged Basset Hound. For dogs that are not built for endurance, it’s advised that exercise durations be divided into shorter sessions that can be spread throughout the day. This could include breeds with flat noses as they would find strenuous exercises a challenge to their breathing.
General dog exercise tips
- Do not over-exercise your dog. This especially applies to puppies where exceeding exercise requirements derails musculoskeletal development.
- Just as you need to stay hydrated during a workout, you must provide sufficient water for your dog. Consider carrying a water bottle specifically designed with a pet-friendly spout.
- Keep an eye out for fatigue during exercise. As age impacts your pet’s health, it may begin to lag during a run, pant, or show other signs of tiring easily. If this happens, give them time to rest.
- Huge dog breeds are likely to suffer joint problems. Frequent exercise keeps their weight in check and keeps their joints in top form. Nonetheless, large breeds should not undertake strenuous activities before turning a year old.
- Climate, too, can impact exercise for an otherwise healthy dog. Going for a run when it’s too hot may lead to your dog overheating. Signs may include vomiting, drooling, and confusion. Suffering a heat stroke can be fatal. Should you notice such signs, cool them using water and fanning in the shade.
Every dog, including that couch potato pet, needs some exercise. Owners of small breeds often fail to provide their pets with sufficient exercise. This has led to smaller dog breeds being prone to being overweight. Moreover, behavioural problems may begin to emerge. Anxiety breeds problems, such as excessive barking and chewing. It’s important to provide even half an hour of exercise even for the smallest dogs. No doubt, safely exercising with your dog requires taking many factors into account. Keep adapting the duration and intensity to suit your dog’s changing requirements.