Exercising Your Dog
All dogs need exercise but the amount depends greatly on the individual dog. Some influences are the age of the dog, the breed, and genetics. For example, younger dogs that have come from working strains will have much more energy than an older dog, especially certain breeds such as Basset Hounds, and will therefore need to exercise more.
It is important to provide the correct amount of exercise for the individual. Excess energy that the dog doesn’t use up will be channelled into other behaviour, such as jumping up, attention seeking, barking etc.
Regularly exercising the dog will allow them to use up this excess energy, to toilet, mentally stimulate him and overall he will probably be better socialised with animals and people. It is generally better to take the dog out at least twice a day. This will ensure that the dog does not over exert himself on one walk. It may help to get the dog into a routine of being exercised at certain times of the day, such as morning and evening.
The length of exercise will depend on the dog’s energy level. If he is displaying unwanted active behaviour, his exercise amounts may need to be increased, until a suitable level is reached. You can also change the type of exercise that the dog receives, by using playing games, letting the dog off the lead (in appropriate areas), swimming, agility classes etc.
As the dog gets older, he may slow down and therefore require less exercise. Puppies, however, seem to have endless energy! It is important not to over exercise puppies under 6 months of age. For young and old dogs it is better to offer small walks little and often, probably not lasting for longer than 20-30 minutes for each exercise.
Puppies should have had their full vaccination course before being allowed out in public. Your vet will give you guidelines to follow with regards to when the puppy can be let out to the public, and mix with other dogs, but this is usually about I week after the second vaccination. It is important to get the puppy out into different environments as soon as possible. A well-socialised pup is more likely to be well behaved, easier to handle and have a good temperament as an adult dog. It also reduces the risk of behaviour problems such aggressiveness, destructiveness and disobedience.
Breed and exercise
Does your dog like to go for short walks, long runs, or will he retrieve a ball until your arm falls off? Generally, the exercise that’s best for your dog depends on his breed, not his size. For example, a bulldog, though big, was bred for strength, not stamina, and would not be comfortable taking a 5-mile walk. While a Jack Russell Terrier, though small, is extremely active, and will happily romp in the park for hours. Although every dog has their individual likes and dislikes, even mixed dogs have inherited tendencies that make them more apt at some activities than others. That’s why it’s important to consider what your dog was bred for – and tailor his exercise program to fit his instinctual needs. Sporting Dogs The larger spaniels, setters, pointers and retrievers need lots of vigorous exercise. They enjoy long hikes and walks, splashing in lakes and streams and, of course, love to retrieve balls, sticks, or just about anything else. Twice a day these dogs should receive a brisk 20-minute jog followed by at least 10 minutes of energetic play or a swim. Hounds These dogs once used their keen senses to track game. What hounds enjoy most is room to sniff and run in the open air. Every morning and evening hounds need 20 minutes of brisk walking or jogging, followed by a 10-minute run in a safely enclosed area. Spaniels love water and will be happy to go for a swim. Dachshunds, though small, still need a 15-minute walk twice a day. Working Dogs As their name suggests, these dogs were bred to work. Some guarded livestock and property (Mastiff), rescued humans (Saint Bernard), or pulled sleds and carts (Samoyed). Capable, determined and quick to learn, these dogs need a 20 to 30-minute jog every morning or a shorter walk combined with controlled training games. Repeat the workout later in the day. Terriers Born to hunt, sniff and dig out prey, Terriers were bred to lead extremely active lives. Larger terriers need a brisk 15-minute walk or a shorter walk with 10 minutes of active play – morning and evening. Smaller terriers will stay healthy with a brisk 15-minute walk twice a day as long as you also include some indoor or outdoor play. These quick-witted little dogs can easily learn games such as hide-and-go-seek, tag and fetch. Toys Dogs like the Pekingese and Maltese were bred to sit on laps and look cute. So, it’s no surprise that toy breeds need less exercise than most other dogs. A 15-minute walk, twice a day, is enough for most of these dogs. Some toy breeds love to chase and retrieve, so ball games can be a great activity for these petite pooches. Herders With members like the Collie, Briard and German Shepherd, these strong, intelligent dogs were bred to herd sheep or cattle. Games with a purpose, such as hide-and-seek keep these dogs stimulated. While a 30-minute walk or jog, as well as extra time to chase balls or play frisbee – should also be included twice a day. Non-Sporting Dogs This diverse group includes Bulldogs, Dalmations and Lhasa Apsos – and any other dogs that don’t quite fit into the other breed groups. To determine the kind of exercise these dogs need, look at their size and body type.
Age considerations for exercise
Your dog’s breed, size and age all factor into his exercise requirements. It doesn’t necessarily follow that larger dogs need more exercise. Dogs that were bred to work generally need more exercise than lap dogs, for example. Ask your breeder or vet about how much exercise your dog should be getting.
Puppies don’t need to be encouraged to exercise. However, you have to be careful not to over-exercise them because their bones aren’t very strong. The rule is to exercise them a little, and often. Middle-aged dogs may need more encouragement. It’s up to you to make sure he gets regular exercise through his middle years, which will help keep him to his proper weight.
Older dogs need exercise, too. If you have an older dog, take him for shorter and more frequent walks. It will help keep his joints and circulation moving and give him the opportunity to relieve himself – which he may need to do more often as he ages. Never force him to exercise beyond his capabilities and don’t take him out in extreme weather conditions. Be aware that an older dog may tire more easily than he used to, and that his eyesight and sense of smell may be deteriorating. Your older dog can easily become disoriented if separated from you, so make sure you watch him closely.