Exercise is a key part of our dog’s health, happiness and wellbeing. Exercise maintains a healthy weight, muscle mass, and keeps joints mobile, it is part of your dogs’ natural instincts to be active and is a key part of your dog’s health.
Exercise avoids health problems and natural light has many benefits on mental and physical health for both you and your dog. Dog’s need exercise to prevent negative behaviour so if you don’t tire them out, they will soon be up to mischief chewing your furniture when they are frustrated and bored.
There is a danger of weight gain if your dog does not get enough exercise and there can be a tendency towards increased aggression towards other pets or people due to lack of exercise resulting in mental stress. However, if any destructive behaviour does not stop once they are getting enough exercise you should consult your veterinary surgeon
When choosing your dog, you will have to consider your own life style, as not all dogs are the same and some need considerably more exercise than others. Consistency and building up endurance is the key especially as puppies and young dogs. The UK Kennel Club recommend five minutes for each month of their age up to twice a day, plus playful exercise.
Avoid being a couch potato on week days, and an athlete at the week end, as this will only lead to fatigue and muscle soreness. Dogs will slow down with age like ourselves, so more leisurely slower paced walks will be kinder on their muscles and joints.
Over exercise is as bad as no exercise, always check your dogs’ paws for wear and tear, cuts or grazes, irritated skin or swelling. Joint injury can cause difficulty in moving, and tiredness or irritability and limping through muscle pain or stiffness after too much exercise. Heat stroke is also something to be very careful to avoid. Check for excessive panting or drooling, uncoordinated movements or vomiting. Younger and older breeds can have difficulty, and dogs like pugs can’t cool as efficiently as other breeds. An hour either side of walking is best for feeding to avoid stomach upset or bloating.
Canicross has become very popular with many dog owners, some breeds are much better suited to running than others for example sighthounds and lurchers, are speedy across very short distances, but will tire over longer distances and such breeds as Labradors will be happy to run alongside you. Huskies or Border Collies may be happy to go the distance but may need their attention held during the run, and small nosed breeds can have difficulty breathing and are more susceptible to heat stroke. If you intend to go running with your canine mate, build, up endurance slowly, be prepared for stops for sniffing and peeing and don’t forget water for your dog as you want to avoid dehydration
You know your dog and their capabilities and limitations, and it is up to you to stop play and exercise if they get over excited as they can often ignore pain. This especially is important if your dog has had any joint surgery, or joint problems, for example hip dysplasia. Always consult your veterinary surgeon for advice regarding exercise.
This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian regarding your dog’s health.