Exercise is part of a healthy life for humans and dogs alike. But the type and amount of exercise for dogs can vary by the breed and size of your dog. Among the benefits of keeping your dog active are increased vitality, digestive health, and a healthy weight. Exercise at the right pace for your pet can help improve medical conditions that cause weight gain and lethargy.
Dogs with Cushing’s disease can benefit from daily exercise. You may need to start small and build up to a more rigorous activity, but gentle, daily exercise can help control weight gain and sustain energy in a Cushing’s dog.
Whether you plan on daily walks or build in active playtime in the backyard, maintaining a routine of exercise can be beneficial for you and your pet. Here are some tips for getting the most out of exercise with you and your pet.
Find the Right Fit
Exercise should be tailored to your dog’s breed and your lifestyle. Experts suggest you should consider your own exercise routine before bringing a pet home. The American Kennel Club expressed this in their article How Much Exercise Does My Dog Need. “It is not a good idea to buy an active dog breed unless you already lead an active lifestyle, and it is unrealistic to expect your toy poodle to join you for marathon training – unless you are pushing him in a stroller.”
Senior dogs may not be able to run and jump like they did as a pup, but exercise is still important. The key is to reduce the amount of time spent in exercise but continue to provide walks and indoor exercise with toys. Senior dogs may still enjoy and be capable of short games of fetch and brief walks.
For breeds that tend to hyperactivity, exercise can actually help dispel this energy that is often spent indoors through destructive behavior. Experts suggest that attention-seeking and damaging outbursts will decrease or even cease with regular exercise and play that allows your dog to unleash their energy. Find out how active your pet needs to be by talking to your vet about the needs of their specific breed.
Time it Right
PetMD.com recommends that dogs spend from 30 minutes to 2 hours being active every day. Length and rigor of activity depend on the age and breed of your pet. Once you know your dog’s energy levels, you can gauge how long your Fido can keep pace with brisk activity. You can break up periods of activity throughout the day if your pooch does better in short spurts. Even highly active dogs would benefit from multiple sessions of exercise and play.
Be Weather Smart
Tailoring your pet’s exercise to the climate is essential. In the heat of summer, morning and evening walks are best. Winter conditions may also necessitate indoor play. Some cities even offer workouts where “dogs and their people” can get healthy together. K9FitClub licenses workout structures tailored to dogs and their owners where gyms can partner through a membership and training program. They believe a healthy pet parent can mean a healthy pooch.
K9FitClub also reminds pet parents to carefully monitor their pet for signs of heat stroke or dehydration in warm weather exercise. Dog’s don’t sweat except for minimal amounts from their foot pads, so giving them regular drinks of fresh water before, after, and even in between exercises is a must.
Give Praise to your Pooch
Make exercise for dogs fun by giving your dog physical and verbal rewards. Verbal praise during exercise can emphasize that this is a desired behavior and make it more rewarding for your pet. Making verbal and physical praise a reward instead of always resorting to a treat is a healthy habit. Giving your pup a good petting and hearty verbal affirmations after they participate in exercise can be just as rewarding.
Mix it Up
Exercise for dogs isn’t just about walks, it can be a fun game of fetch or tug-of-war. Setting up a simple obstacle course can also be a fun time for Fido. Use what you have or find objects like tunnels and low fences they can play with. For indoor time, find a place you can engage them in play with a toy. Maybe they can follow you as you run up and down stairs. Exercise for dogs doesn’t have to be just about daily walks.
Make it Social
Your dog may thrive on exercise time with other pets. Dog parks offer a great place for your pooch to run and interact with other animals. However, you will need a plan to make sure your dog relates well with other pets. Think about how your dog reacts to other animals on a walk. Do they long to play or growl? You may need to introduce the park when your dog is on a leash. Make sure you have a way to separate your dog should they become aggressive with other pets.
Know other dog owners? You could even set up a pet play date to give your pooch some fun exercise time. If you walk with a friend, bring your pup along.
Providing exercise time is an important part of caring for your dog. If your pet is suffering from a medical condition, talk to your vet about how to exercise your pet safely. Whatever the weather or season, you can find ways to get your pet moving. Exercise for dogs is a key step towards a healthier, happier life.