Exercise is vital to your dog’s good health and also to his good behavior. If your dog has a fenced yard and an active dog buddy, he or she may get enough running and playing on his own, but if he’s an only pet or you live in an apartment, he may have an exercise deficit.
There’s not a simple answer. Active breeds like herders, retrievers and terriers need more than hounds, who are trackers and move more slowly. That doesn’t mean the hounds don’t need exercise; it can just be on the milder side, say a stroll around the block with plenty of time for smelling the roses or the scent of the cat that passed that way earlier. It almost goes without saying that older dogs need less exercise than younger ones.
And then there’s also simply a matter of personality. Just as some people love to run, others prefer to amble. Dog breeds have their innate characteristics, but they have preferences, too, and often with All-American mutts, we don’t know what breeds lie in their ancestry.
There are also cautions to consider. Short-nosed dogs like English bulldogs shouldn’t be exercised vigorously because of breathing problems endemic to the breed. Sustained running and jogging for young dogs whose bones haven’t finished growing is not recommended, according to the ASPCA. Dog breeds that are prone to hip dysplasia, generally large breeds, should not engage in jumping games.
Consider the weather as well. When the temperature is sweltering, don’t engage your dog in vigorous activities. Take your walks early before it gets too hot. Take along a collapsible bowl and bottled water.
One way to gauge if your dog is getting enough exercise is by observing his or her body. If he looks like a sausage, he’s probably overweight. Viewed from the side, her tummy shouldn’t hang below her chest. You should be able to feel the ribs. Nestle Purina has developed a body conditioning chart that may help you.
Another gauge is if your pet is getting into trouble around the house, particularly if he’s a young dog. Tearing things up, digging, engaging in frenzied behavior of one sort or another is his way of using up some of his pent-up energy. At the very least, you can re-direct his behavior by going for a walk or playing a game of Fetch It indoors. As you walk and play with your pet, breath a sigh of relief that a tired dog is a good dog.
Most dogs need 30 to 60 minutes of exercise a day – and what a great bonus for pet parents. You, too, will benefit from a regular exercise regimen with your dog. Or if you’re really ambitious, do what one pet parent did: she trained her dog to walk on the treadmill.
Your Heal House Call Veterinarian can advise you about your pet’s weight and what exercise will work best for his or her breed.