Keep Your Dog Fit and Healthy
Want to know if your dog is getting enough quality exercise? Nadia Crighton shares some great tips on keeping your pet fit and healthy.
Dogs require adequate exercise for a number of reasons:
- It keeps them healthy
- It provides entertainment
- It can help prevent many behavioural problems
- Exercise keeps their brain and body active
- It helps ward off obesity
- Of course, it helps keep YOU healthy
- And it promotes a healthy well-being
However, many of us lead incredibly busy lives, and sadly this can leave the family pooch dealing with pent up energy that has to be released. Sometimes this can lead to an unhappy and destructive pooch.
An underactive dog is also much more likely to be overweight. Obesity is one of the biggest problems currently facing our pet population. Not only can being obese shorten your pet’s life expectancy, it can also trigger debilitating diseases and painful joint conditions.
But enough of the doom and gloom…
How Can We Keep Our Pets Active?
Your average adolescent dog needs around 30 to 60 minutes of heart racing exercise per day. This will differ depending on the age and size of your dog. Even your older dog still needs to get the blood pumping daily (more on that in our senior dog exercise special).
And don’t forget the little guys. Contrary to popular belief, small dogs do not get enough exercise just running around the home. They also need to be walked and actively exercised daily to ensure they’re kept at their correct weight and are thoroughly entertained.
You will notice a huge improvement in your dog’s behaviour the more time and effort you put into your exercise regime. If you cannot walk your dog nicely on a leash, make a promise to yourself and your pooch that this year will be the year to master it! With a little help, patience and research nothing is unattainable!
So, what are the best forms of exercise? Again, this will depend on your dog and its breed. For example, a calmer Border Collie may not need as much exercise as a very active clothesline herding type. So, you need to know your dog’s levels of exuberance, breed exercise requirements and age specific needs.
- Brisk Walk on Lead – This is a great way to ensure your dog is getting a good amount of exercise. A nice brisk walk in the mornings or afternoons will benefit your dog immensely. If you are strapped for time, consider breaking this up into two short brisk walks. Walking on lead offers a wonderful opportunity to improve the important bond you share with your dog, it is also a good way for your dog to check out all the smells of the neighbourhood. Even if you use an off-leash area, consider parking a block away and walking to the park. It’s an ideal way to get some ‘leash’ time, while also keeping you fit.
- Off Leash Run – This would have to be the most preferred option for many dog owners and is certainly a great way to run off any surplus energy. Playing and interacting with other dogs is oodles of fun for any pooch-loving pet. However, it’s vital you keep an eye on your dog and that your dog is 100% under control. A bad experience at an off-leash area can have a knock-on effect on how your dog interacts with other dogs. If there are ‘problem’ dogs down the park, try and distract your dog with the use of a ball or utilising your training. Or consider using the park at ‘quieter’ times and going with a doggy friend. Also, consider changing it up on the weekends, find a new dog beach or go on a trail walk/run with your dog. Remember it’s best to stay away from off-leash areas until your dog is 100% vaccinated.
- Dog Sports – For some dogs these are a saving grace regarding brain and brawn flexing! For a very active dog, having a weekly dose of sports is a fantastic way to keep them occupied and happy. All dogs can be taught to excel at any of the great dog sports on offer. Having your dog involved in a dog sport will allow for ‘safe’ socialisation and will also radically improve the communication you and your dog share. It’s a fun way to train and keep your dog healthy at the same time.
- Fun Training – Think fetch, Frisbees, hide n seek, play-dead, roll over…the list is huge!
What About the Rain?
No need to stop your routine because of a few showers or a spell of bad weather. Make a promise that there is never an excuse to not exercise. Invest in a good waterproof dog coat (and human coat). Or, on particularly bad days, do some in-house brain training! Hide and seek, or teach your dog a new trick. A quick play outside during the rain breaks with a game of fetch can really brighten up a gloomy day and keep your pet active.