Exercise and Your Dog

To stay healthy and fit and prevent dog pain, your pet needs regular exercise. Exercise is one of your dog’s basic needs and is as important to its health as proper nutrition.

It may surprise you to know that most breeds of dogs require from one to two hours of daily exercise to stay healthy. Your dog may need more or less, depending on its age and breed. An older Yorkie, for example, may just want to loaf on your sofa, while a young adult Border Collie might require four hours of exercise every day and still want more.

How much exercise will my dog really need?

How much exercise is enough depends on your dog’s age, breed, and its health. A 10-month old Irish Terrier puppy is going to need more than a five-year old Whippet. Some hound breeds need short bursts of exercise, while guard dogs don’t need as much overall exercise as sporting breeds who like to hunt all day. Even within a breed, the need varies by animal. An energetic eight-year-old Golden Retriever could easily need more exercise than a calm three-year old Golden. Older dogs still need to go for walks too – they just need shorter walks than they were used to when they were younger.

The costs of not giving your dog enough exercise range from overweight and obesity, to the risk of diabetes, respiratory disease, and heart disease. Obesity is more than a health problem; it can stress a dog’s joints, ligaments, and tendons. Older dogs often have a hard enough time getting up without the added problem of lifting excess pounds. Lack of exercise substantially increases orthopedic problems such as hip dysplasia and arthritis.

If your senior dog suffers from hip dysplasia, arthritis, or other degenerative joint diseases, the best product you can buy to help him is Winston’s Joint System. Winston’s is an all-natural formula developed by a Naturopathic Doctor to heal his own beloved dog who suffered from debilitating joint problems. For more than 20 years, Winston’s proven formula has been giving relief from pain and stiffness to all breeds and ages of dogs.

When considering exercise for your dog, don’t fool yourself that a leisurely walk around the block is enough. Most dogs need 30 to 60 minutes of exercise a day. Here are some general rules of thumb:

* Active breeds need a minimum of 30 minutes of hard aerobic exercise daily;
* Not all small breeds get enough exercise inside the house and need outside exercise too;
* It’s not safe to take your dog out in extremely hot or cold weather. Exercise indoors on these days.

No two dogs are the same, so determining your dog’s exercise needs takes some trial and error. When you are unsure, start by giving your dog as much exercise as it wants, being careful not to overdo it. Watch closely for signs of exhaustion such as heavy panting, wheezing, lameness in the legs, and frequent slowing or stopping to lie down during the exercise period. Avoid outdoor exercise on very hot days, and be sure to provide fresh, cool water at all times.

How can you determine what kind of exercise is best for your dog?

There are many activities you can do with your dog while exercising your own body at the same time. Walking, running or hiking with your dog is great exercise for both of you and frees your mind to focus on the beauty that surrounds you.

Some activities provide more exercise for your dog than for you, but are still a fun way to bond with your pet. Playing fetch with a ball or frisbee is loads of fun for many dogs.

If you’re lucky enough to live within driving distance of a dog park, your dog will find companionship among other visitors to the park, and you have the added benefit of engaging in conversation with other dog owners and sharing important information about your pets. Dog parks are popular places for off-leash exercise and romping with other dogs, which is exactly what most dogs need. However, not all dogs get along with others. If your dog doesn’t like other dogs, a dog park is definitely not the place to go for exercise.

As humans, we usually think of exercise only as a health issue, but it has important day-to-day effects on a dog’s behavior as well. Dogs, especially puppies and young dogs, have a lot of energy, and if they don’t have an opportunity to burn off that energy, the result will often be destructive behavior. If your dog is digging holes in your yard or you’re having to replace pillows or clothing your dog has shredded, it’s a pretty clear sign that your dog is probably not getting enough exercise.

These behavior issues often cause many people to rid themselves of their dogs, even though the bad behavior is preventable. We have all seen newspaper ads and signs tacked to telephone posts with the message “Free dog to a good home”. These are usually placed by people whose dogs need the exercise they’re not getting. Unfortunately, some people don’t consider exercise when selecting a breed of dog as a pet, and end up choosing a dog that needs more exercise than the new owner has time to provide.

Before choosing a pet dog for yourself or your family, read as much as you can about the breed or breeds you are considering and how much and how often they need to be exercised to maintain optimum health.