How important is exercise for your four-legged friend?
Whether you’ve got a new pup or an old faithful, exercise is vital for your dog’s health and happiness. Walking, running and playing all help your dog stay in good physical shape and can also contribute to better behaviour and a healthier appetite.
How much exercise?
Some is always better than none, for most dogs a leashed walk around the block probably isn’t enough, unless of course your dog is very old or has health problems. Depending on the breed, 30 to 60 minutes a day is ideal. Every day, if possible. Dogs who don’t get enough exercise are often overweight and can develop diabetes, respiratory problems and even heart disease. Obesity can also cause issues with ligaments and tendons.
Different breeds, different needs.
All dogs need exercise. Some however are bred to move and run (and hunt) just that little bit more. Others are a little slower naturally, but still need a good amount of physical movement. For all their speed, greyhounds are sometimes lovingly referred to as the world’s fastest couch potatoes! If your dog has lots of energy, find a place where they can run off leash, sniff around and play with other dogs. If your dog is very small, old, has social or has respiratory issues, a more subdued form of exercise like a neighbourhood walk can work wonders. Here’s a chart that can help you understand your dog’s needs. You can always ask your vet or breeder for more information!
Image from psda.org.uk
Fitbits for dogs and other modern devices.
Not surprisingly in this digital world there are all sorts of gadgets and ideas to help dogs get the exercise they need. Dog Activity Devices for counting steps and measuring movement is one way to go. More advanced models can even measure heart rate, calories and other ‘wellness indicators’ if you want a complete picture of your dog’s daily health. You can also use a walking machine for inside exercise, but never ever leave your dog unattended to walk alone. Moving machine parts and leads and collars can be a dangerous combination.
Come on, let’s go!
Dogs love to go outside. They sniff, they dig, they mark their territory. Dog parks with off-leash areas are a great way to exercise and socialise your dog. If you don’t have access to a dog park then anywhere that you can take a nice long walk will do. For those lucky enough to live by the water, swimming is one of the greatest ways to give your dog a good workout. Most dogs are natural swimmers and can’t wait to get in the water.
Indoor exercise and activities
If you need to exercise your dog indoors, don’t underestimate the value of throwing a ball or soft toy for a game of fetch, or using the stairs as an exercise area. As mentioned previously, walking machines can work well, but only under constant human supervision.
Doggy daycares are also a great indoor option for dogs to socialise and run around in a purpose built environment.
Good fun and games
Most dogs love to chase and fetch a ball. Although using a variety of fetch toys is advised so there is less chance of your dog becoming ‘obsessed’ with balls. Good quality dog toys are essential, cheap rubber and plastic toys are too easily chewed and ingested which can cause serious problems. Tug of war is another favourite – a bit of rope and you and your dog will be truly connected while having fun and getting good exercise.
Enough exercise and good nutrition for a well and happy dog
Good nutrition and enough exercise go hand in hand for a healthier animal. Food that’s high in meat protein will give your dog the energy it needs to be active, healthy and happy.