Dogs need exercise and so do you, which offers you the perfect opportunity to spend more time with your pooch. Every breed of dog no matter how big or small needs daily exercise to keep their mind active and their body healthy. Going for a walk, running around the park, or playing actively with your family helps keep your dog’s muscles strong and toned and supports their metabolic system.
Unfortunately, dogs, like us humans, will become obese if they aren’t getting as much activity and exercise as they need. Average dogs need somewhere between 30 minutes and 2 hours of activity each day, the factors that determine where a dog falls in that range are generally age and breed. Dogs that come from traditional hunting breeds which includes Retrievers, Labradors, and Shepherds need more exercise than other breeds of dogs.
There are two sure signs that dogs are not getting enough exercise. First, they will start gaining weight. Second, they will become more destructive and may do things like jumping over or tunneling under fences and chewing up possessions. If these sound familiar, it’s because they are similar to the responses we experience when we aren’t getting enough physical activity. We start gaining weight and we can get pretty stressed, snappy, and moody.
This means that if both you and your dog are not getting as much exercise as you need, it’s time to grab the leash, slip on your sneakers and get back in shape together.
Tips for Getting Started
If neither you nor your dog has been very active of late, you should make an appointment for each of you to see your respective doctors for a checkup. As with any exercise program, it is a good idea to talk it over with your doctor, before you start and the same is true for your dog.
Talk to the veterinarian about what kind of exercise would be best for your dog and ask for a recommendation about how much exercise he needs daily. This is the best way to get an accurate understanding of your individual dog’s needs since your vet can factor in breed, age, size, and any health considerations.
Start slow and work towards the goals recommended by your doctor and your dog’s vet. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day and you should not expect yourself or your dog to go from lazing on the couch to walking 10 miles over night. Choose a program that works for you and your dog.
“Dr. Sedlacek of Animal Clinic of Morris Plains recommends a book called ‘Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound.’ by Phil Zeltzman. This book demonstrates the duel benefit of walking for both dog & master.”
Allow for a warm-up, active play, and warm-down, just as you would for a normal workout. This could mean a short brisk walk to the dog park, free range play or fetch while at the dog park, and a more leisurely stroll home.
Don’t get stuck in a rut. Your dog will get bored taking the same path and seeing the same scenery as you do every day, so don’t hesitate to mix things up. Take a different route, visit a different dog park or play different games each day so that you both get physical and mental benefit from this activity.
Avoid long distances. It may not seem possible, but humans are the kings of persistence running. This means that we are capable of going longer distances, albeit, not as fast, than any other animal with the possible exception of the horse. Your body is better designed to run, bike or skate longer distances than your dog is. Dogs run and then they stop and sniff and explore and then they run again. This means that if you are running 3 miles or skating 5, you may need to do something else with them that is more appropriate to the kind of activity they need.
So get off that couch & take your pooch for some good, old-fashioned, healthful exercise.
Dr. Paul has a strong interest in avian and exotic animal medicine and surgery, as well as small animal internal medicine and surgery.
He has provided services for numerous breeders, kennels, aviaries, and mini zoos.