Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Welcome Workouts

We all know that pent up canine energy can lead to destructive household behaviors, but how much exercise is right for your pooch? As with most canine issues, the subject of exercise depends a lot on your dog's age, size, breed and health. Some retrieving breeds may be happy with long games of fetch or a 5 mile run, while puppies and smaller breeds are content to engage in training or thinking games. Older dogs' workout routines should be modified to their mobility and energy levels. Before starting any exercise program, be sure to keep these things in mind...

Puppy Play
For puppies, we recommend about 5 minutes of structured on-leash exercise for every month old he or she is. Of course, you'll need to gage your puppy's energy level: if he's four months old and seems pooped after fifteen minutes of focused exercise, you shouldn't hesitate to cut the session short. Good sources of puppy play include play in the garden with toys, thinking games and problem solving games. Puppies need to spend most of their time growing and sleeping. 

Active Adults
For full-grown dogs, a leashed walk around the block generally isn't going to cut it; most need about 30 to 60 minutes of exercise each day. Here are some things to keep in mind:
  • Active breeds need a minimum of 30 minutes of hard aerobic exercise most days of the week.
  • Many toy/small breeds can't get enough exercise just moving around the house.
  • Extremely hot or cold weather is unsafe for your dog. You can teach your dog tricks to engage his mind, throw toys or run up and down stairs inside where it's safe.
  • Good exercise uses both mental and physical muscles.
  • Live by the philosophy that a tired dog is a happy, good dog. 
For dogs of all ages, we recommend asking your veterinarian for his or her advice on the best exercise(s). 

Workout Wonders
There are plenty of ways to give your puppy the workout he needs! Regular walks around the neighborhood, or visits to dog parks or doggie day care are some of the best places to develop a canine exercise routine, but as we mentioned earlier, there are things you can do in your own home. For some dogs, agility is another great source of exercise. There's also obedience training, fetch games and swimming. Just be sure to mix things up if your dog appears to be tiring of any one activity. Just like us, your dog will love having a variety of play/exercise options to choose from!

The Costs of Insufficient Exercise
Inactive dogs are often overweight, which can mean health risks. Obesity significantly contributes to a dog's risk of diabetes, respiratory disease, and heart disease. It can also exacerbate hip dysplasia and arthritis, and stress joints, ligaments, and tendons. Geriatric dogs often have a hard enough time getting up without the added problem of lifting excess pounds. 

So hop to it! Once you've determined the right type and amount of physical activity for your pup, go enjoy tiring him (and yourself) out!

Source: ASPCA

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