How much exercise does a dog need every day? And secondly, how do you exercise a dog?
Here are some tips and tricks to getting some much-needed exercise into your furry friend. No matter what size, breed or age, most dogs will benefit greatly from some form of exercise. Taking your dog around the block is a great start but the reality is that some breeds need quite a bit more. High energy breeds require not only physical exercise but mental training as well. We’ll tell you all about that a little later.
Walking – Dogs love the outdoors. Most don’t even mind the weather…whatever that may be. Typically we like to trek the same route in our neighbourhood for each walk. Our dogs get to know the area, mark their territory and even know exactly where and who is close by. Let’s take our walks one step further.
PRO TIP: Change your route often. Not only will it be more interesting for you but your fido will have to think just a bit more, remark territories, learn the route and pay attention to where you’re heading. All of this will tire him out way more than you think. Brain training for those high-energy dogs is just as important as physical training.
Swimming – Most dogs love the water and swimming is great for dogs with joint problems. This high-intensity, low-impact training is amazing for our senior dogs who otherwise get sore from pavement walks – and for the youth, it burns just that much more energy! A lifejacket can help your dog stay in the water longer for an optimum workout.
PRO TIP: Be sure to thoroughly dry your pet after each swim to avoid hot spots. Remember to get into those ears!
Fetch – Fetch doesn’t have to be boring. Try throwing a ball uphill or into some water. Test out an agility ball for some reaction training. Alternate between balls, frisbees or other toys to keep them interested.
PRO TIP: Never play fetch off a deck. Steer clear of obstacles that can lead to injury especially in the knees. Also, whenever there’s a toy that has a piece torn, broken, or loose strings, be sure to throw it out immediately. Always use size-appropriate balls that they can’t inadvertently swallow.
Dog Sports – There are a variety of sports/activities that your dog can learn to participate in. Scent work, agility, obedience and flyball to name a few.
Losing Weight Through Exercise
Just like humans, diet and exercise are key ingredients to losing weight. Increasing intensity and duration of exercise, as well as decreasing caloric intake are the three most important components of a successful weight loss program.
Walking for pleasure is probably the most common walk we tend to go on. Taking time for our pooch to stop and smell the roses, not breaking a sweat while doing it. Unfortunately, a leisurely pace just doesn’t cut it for weight loss. Walking for weight loss is very different. Aim for a brisk 30 min walk where you actually break a sweat. Not a lot of time to sniff and mark. This walk is goal-driven.
Other types of exercise:
Food bowls – Move the food bowl upstairs or downstairs. Continue to change locations frequently so that he has to search and find, and essentially “go for a walk” to find their food.
Puzzle feeders/treat balls – Use a treat ball or a puzzle feeder to help slow down ingestion and help them feel more full.
Body Condition Score Guides
Body Condition Scoring is a tool to help you understand what is an ideal shape for your pet. Check the following guides to see if your pet is in the right shape.
by Tania Admans, RVT