Remember that a good walk or run every day will keep your dog, and probably you, in good shape.
Regular exercise is essential for all dogs. It can also be a lot of fun. Here’s a guide to keeping your dog fit through exercise and play.
All dogs need and usually love their daily exercise. The amount your dog needs will depend not only on their size, but also on their breed. Bear in mind that some smaller breeds can have lots of energy, whereas some larger breeds are not always as energetic.
Whenever you are near a road, or wherever your dog is likely to cause a nuisance if they run free, keep them on a leash. Remember that not everyone is as fond of dogs as you are, and you must respect their feelings. Keep your dog under control at all times, to keep them as well as those around them safe. Part of your walk should take your dog over hard ground (such as a pavement), as this will help keep their nails short.
Don't make the mistake of over-exercising your dog if they're still growing, because their bones aren’t yet strong enough to cope with the extra stress this puts on them. Little and often is the rule until your dog grows to full strength. Remember that large breeds mature later than small breeds. Ask the breeder or your vet for their advice. Regular and varied walks give your dog the chance to explore and to experience new stimuli, including meeting other dogs. Ensure that time spent with other dogs is a posiive experience, and intervene if it looks like any dog is being bullied. This will help your puppy develop into a content and well-adjusted dog, which reduces the risk of problem behaviour developing.
Make sure you supervise your entire dog’s exercise. Don’t allow them to stray. Remember that a good walk or run every day will keep your dog, and probably you, in good shape. Studies show that by keeping your dog in a healthy weight and body condition, you can extend the length of their life.
Playing with your dog helps build the relationship. Be careful that you don’t encourage your dog to play roughly. If you give permission for them to behave in this way, they may act roughly with people they encounter later on who may not appreciate it. As your dog's leader, you should decide when games start and finish.
Don't play with sticks; your dog could get a splinter or damage their mouth. Don’t play with stones, either, because they may end up in your dog’s stomach! If you are going to the park for some fun and exercise, take along a couple of your dog’s favourite toys. Playing usually requires two participants, but with some toys, your dog can play alone. They should play with toys made from firm, elastic materials that aren’t dangerous to dogs.
Non-toxic, durable chewy toys are great for chewing and they’ll have lots of fun trying to break them. Other toys can be filled with treats, allowing your dog to stimulate their mind through play. These are also great for relieving your dog’s boredom if they're alone for a period of time each day.
As your dog ages into a senior dog, they may tire more easily. An older dog's joints may stiffen and they may become more susceptible to muscular aches and pains. Fortunately, there are a number of treatments available that your veterinarian can prescribe to improve your dog's mobility.
Older dogs often have deteriorating eyesight, and their other senses may also be impaired. They can easily become disoriented and lost if they get separated from their pet parent. So don't let your dog get too far away from you when you’re out for exercise.
Although they may be less active, it’s still good for your senior dog to maintain a moderate level of exercise. This helps to improve their circulation, keep their joints moving, and ensure they receive plenty of fresh air. It also gives them opportunities to toilet thereby avoiding accidents in the house. Take your dog for shorter, more frequent walks, but never force them to go beyond their capabilities. If the weather is wet, make sure you thoroughly dry them off when you get home. If the ground is icy or if there is salt or grit on the roads, make sure their paws are washed and dried well to avoid irritation that can lead to sores and infections. When the weather is extremely hot or cold, do not take your senior dog out for walks, as their body may not be able to cope. It's better to wait until conditions are more comfortable.
Exercising is one of the most fun parts of having a dog in your life. Play can keep your dog fit and mentally stimulated. By keeping your dog fit and active, they’ll be playing well into their twilight years.