Every time this topic comes up I feel guilty about every dog I have ever owned. I am sure I am not alone in this. I have every excuse in the books; kids, house, job... you've heard them all. But the bottom line is that if something fell out of the bottom of my day it was usually walking my dog.
So how bad was that for my dog?
Well, here are the facts as I understand them, none of which lessen my guilt.
- big or small, young or old, dogs need to exercise daily
- dogs do slow down as they age but they still need to have some form of daily physical activity
- without activity, your dog will become bored, frustrated and unhealthy
- this boredom may lead to destructive behaviour
- dogs will gain weight if they do not burn off the calories they consume
- some breeds have special needs that have to be taken into consideration
- your dog’s age, breed, size and overall health should be considered
- if your dog is a short nosed breed, like a bulldog, for example, he will not need a lot of daily exercise
- labrador retrievers, hounds, collies and shepherds will need the most exercise
- if your dog has too much weight, achy joints and muscles, or a laid-back personality they still need some activity to keep the body functioning well
So How Much Exercise is Enough?
- after assessing your dog using the considerations above, the range of exercise time for your dog should be between 30 minutes to two hours of activity every day
- many dogs are mixed breeds which makes it hard to assess their needs by breed
- the best way to figure out your dog's activity needs is by watching them, looking for signals
- restlessness and pacing usually indicates a need for more exercise
- if your dog is content to just lie around, they may not need as much exercise and a short walk may be enough
- before you begin an exercise program with your dog, be sure to visit your veterinarian for a health check
- start out slowly and work your way up to longer walking or playing routines
- a warm-up period and cool-down time is recommended
- just putting a dog in the back yard does not constitute exercise
We live in a world increasingly defined by inactivity. Couch potatoes are the norm-both human and canine. Start small and think big!! Start simply, without putting pressure on yourself or your dog, and you will find that you are both looking forward to this happy time of the day and you will both be the better physically and mentally for it.