By Stephanie Gibeault, MSc, CPDT
It’s important to provide your dog with adequate exercise, but some dogs are endlessly peppy while others love nothing more than a rest on the couch. And puppies spend the day alternating between bouncing off the walls and taking naps. So how do you know how much exercise a specific dog needs? Read on to learn if your dog is getting enough physical activity or if you need to get your pet moving more often.
Different Breeds Have Different Exercise Needs
Every dog needs daily exercise. Weekday couch potatoes don’t turn into weekend athletes without risking strained joints and pulled muscles. It’s important to provide your pet with regular conditioning to keep them in their best shape. Plus, you can’t expect your dog to remain calm and well-mannered on days when they have nothing to do. A dog bursting with excess energy will get into trouble and make their own fun. Daily activity is good for your dog’s mental and physical wellbeing. But how do you know how much exercise is enough?
It would be so simple if every dog needed the same amount of exercise each day. But unfortunately, there is no such rule. A toy breed like a Chihuahua or a laid-back dog like a Bulldog might be happy with a 20-minute stroll around the block. A more active dog like a Border Collie or Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever can play fetch all day long. You need to tailor the amount of exercise your dog gets to their personal needs.
Your dog’s breed or combination of breeds will tell you a lot about how much activity they require. Learn about your dog’s heritage to understand how energetic they can be and what they were originally developed to do. Companion breeds like the Shih Tzu were bred as lap warmers. Therefore, their activity level will likely be far lower than a breed like the Dalmatian that was developed to run beside horse-drawn carriages for long journeys. Knowing your dog’s intended purpose helps you provide the right type and amount of exercise.
Every Dog is Unique
Of course, breed isn’t everything – every dog is an individual. There are lazy Labrador Retrievers and bouncy Bernese Mountain Dogs. You need to watch your dog’s behavior to judge if they are getting all the exercise they need. If your dog lags behind you on a run or stops in their tracks on a hike, you’ve pushed them too far. But if your dog is zooming around the house or indulging in problem behaviors like jumping up or chewing the furniture, chances are you haven’t tired them out enough.
Monitoring your dog’s behavior is especially important for mutts of mysterious heritage. Without knowing your pet’s breed make-up, you need to go by their personality and activity level when setting exercise routines. For any dog, it’s also important to talk to your veterinarian. They will take your pet’s weight and health into consideration, so you can tailor exercise appropriately.
Don’t Overdo it With Puppies
You might think puppies need even more exercise than adult dogs, but that’s not the case. Surprisingly, too much activity can be unhealthy for young dogs. Their bodies are still developing and the growth plates in their bones have yet to close. Activities like jumping should be off limits, and long hikes or runs might be dangerous. Particularly with large breed puppies, you risk orthopedic problems down the road if you overdo it. Ask your breeder or vet for advice about providing exercise for your puppy as they age.
Senior Dogs Need Exercise Too
Although dogs slow down as they age, senior dogs still need a certain amount of activity to prevent obesity and keep joints limber. However, you can’t expect an older dog to keep up like they used to. You might need to reduce the length of exercise sessions or change the types of activities you do with your dog. Consider low-impact pursuits that won’t stress arthritic or stiff joints.
Ways to Provide Exercise
There are so many ways to exercise your dog. Choose activities that suit your dog’s personality, age, health, and energy level. Here are some suggestions:
- Take walks around the neighborhood. Periodically travel different routes to give your dog new sights and smells.
- Go for a run or hike. Only take your dog off leash if your dog has a rock-solid recall and the area allows it.
- Take your dog with you on a bicycle ride. First, you need to get your dog comfortable with the bike, so start slow then build speed.
- Try a dog sport like agility or flyball. Your dog will get loads of physical exercise, but you will be training new behaviors as well.
- Play fetch around the yard or up and down the stairs. Stairs are as exhausting for dogs as they are for people.
- Take your dog swimming. Just be aware that not all dogs can swim, so a life jacket is important for beginners.
Don’t forget mental exercise as well. It can be just as tiring as physical exercise, plus it’s great for fighting doggie boredom. Try obedience or trick training, scent work, hide-and-seek, or tug-of-war. You can also provide meals or treats in puzzle toys, so your dog must work for their goodies. Providing exercise for your dog’s mind and body will mean not only a healthy dog, but a happy one too.
How CBD Can Aid Your Dog’s Mobility and Joint Health
Even the healthiest dogs can experience normal discomfort from daily exercise. Think about the way your body feels after a good workout. Mobility supplements are a good thing to add to your dog’s routine whether they’re running 5Ks at 2 or struggling up the stairs at 11. Hip & Joint Releaf Hemp Oil is a great option for active dogs and senior dogs who want to stay active.