Canine Health

How Much Exercise Does My Dog Need?

Photo of Kim and Shakespeare Rollerblading

Most people don’t research breeds before they choose the new member of their family.  This causes problems if the dog is not suited for the new environment it lives in. 

High energy breeds that are specifically bred to be working or herding or hunting all day long are definitely NOT going to be good in a home with couch potatoes.  The same can be said for someone who’s looking for a running partner and picks out a cute toy breed from a pet store!

Basically, do your homework BEFORE choosing a breed for your family, lifestyle and personality.  Sit down and decide what you want in your new best friend and what you can ACTUALLY provide them and you’ll make a more educated decision about the dog you buy.

Now, you may have already bought your dog (with or without doing your homework) and need some tips on how to adjust to having a rambunctious dog in your life.  Think of it this way, YOU ARE THEIR LIFE!  They don’t have work, or school, or friends, they ONLY have YOU!  So you need to provide them these things and be sure they have plenty of outlets for the excess energy, stress and adrenaline that builds in them while you are at work all day.  There are many ways to do this:

1.  Obedience – First and foremost you need to teach your new dog or puppy control before you can try any vigorous exercise program to ensure the safety of you, your dog and anyone in your path.  Obedience also provides much needed mental and physical stimulation which will help keep them out of trouble!

2.  EXERCISE – You should only do plenty of walking while your dog is young, and once it reaches about one year old you can begin a more vigorous exercise program.  This way it prevents any unnecessary strain on the dogs bones and joints while they are growing.  Once they are mature you can try Roller Blading, Jogging and/or Bike Riding to build strength and burn excess energy.

If you have a high energy breed such as Herding, Hunting and Working breeds, you can begin running the dog at a slow trot for shorter distances until the dogs muscles and endurance begin to build.  As you do it more and more you can build to a faster trot, mixing in running and for longer periods of time.  Always provide walking before and after as a warm up and cool down for the dog just like humans need.  And always keep in mind how hot it is giving water breaks (but NOT gulping massive amounts of water at a time because this could cause the dog to bloat – teach them to “sip” the water) and make sure your dog doesn’t have any health problems in advance that could possibly put the dog at risk when exercising.

Exercise provides both you AND your dog with much needed physical activity.  It not only burns fat, calories, excess stress and adrenaline, it also builds muscle, strengthens the immune system, lungs and cardiovascular system, as well as strengthening the bond between you and your pet.  Even older dogs need exercise.  If your older dog has had a jogging routine since it was young, try to keep it going and just slow down or shorten the distance, or turn it into long (or several) walks to keep their bones and joints lubricated and the muscles around the joints strong to support their body weight.

3. Doggie Day Care – Helps your dog socialize and have a chance to be a dog, burn excess stress and adrenaline and they come home nice and tired.  This is a good thing to do on days when you know you won’t have the time to provide such outlets at home.  But pick a day care that knows what they are doing and supervises the dogs to prevent any possible fights which will counter any positive influences you are trying to accomplish.  Our day care is always supervised by professionals.

4.  Pet Sitting – If your dog is not a good candidate for day care while you are at work, and you know you won’t have time to walk them when you get home, pet sitting is a good option.  Our pet sitters walk your dog, feed them, play with them, etc. during the day so they can get out and stretch their legs.  Even if they don’t get along with other dogs, pet sitting visits provides them with some physical and mental stimulation.

5. Play – Get involved in fun sports like Agility, Frisbee, Freestyle Dance, Rally, even just playing fetch.  Play is a much needed part of a dogs development.  A variety of different toys and interactive toys like balls that have treats inside them, different types of bones and nylabones, and simple games like fetch and Frisbee help stimulate the dogs mind, while burning off stress and strengthen your bond.

Whatever you do and whatever breed you purchase, there must be an even balance of Work, Play and Exercise in order for your dog to be a happy, healthy and well adjusted citizen.

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