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 his size, but also on his 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 he runs free, keep him 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. Part of your walk should take your dog over hard ground, as this will help keep his nails short.
Don't make the mistake of over-exercising your dog if he’s still growing, because his bones aren’t yet strong enough to cope with the extra stress this puts on him. 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. This will help him develop into a contented and well-adjusted dog, without developing problem behaviour.
Make sure you supervise your entire dog’s exercise. Don’t allow him to stray, and never put him outside for the day to fend for himself. Remember that a good walk or run every day will keep your dog, and probably you, in good shape. Medical and veterinary experts have observed that fat dogs often have overweight owners!
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 him to behave in this way, he may act roughly with people he encounters later on who may not appreciate it. In order to maintain discipline, you must be the leader of the "pack," deciding when games start and finish.
Don't play with sticks; your dog could get a splinter or damage his 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. He should play with toys made from firm, elastic materials that aren’t dangerous to him.
Non-toxic, durable chewy toys are great for chewing and he’ll have lots of fun trying to break them. Other toys can be filled with treats, allowing your dog to stimulate his mind through play. These are also great for relieving your dog’s boredom if he’s alone for a period of time each day.
As your dog ages into a senior dog, he will tire more easily. His joints may stiffen and he’ll become more susceptible 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 owner. So don't let your dog get too far away from you when you’re out for exercise.
Although he may be less active, it’s still good for your senior dog to maintain a moderate level of exercise. This helps to improve his circulation, keep his joints moving, and ensure he receives plenty of fresh air. It also gives him enough chances to relieve himself, avoiding accidents in the house. Take your dog for shorter, more frequent walks, but never force him to go beyond his capabilities. If the weather is wet, make sure you thoroughly dry him off when you get home. If the ground is icy or if there is salt or grit on the roads, make sure his 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. His body may not be able to cope. Wait until conditions are more comfortable.
Exercising is one of the most fun parts of owning a dog. Play can keep your dog fit and mentally stimulated. Help to keep your dog fit and active and he’ll be playing well into his twilight years.