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How much exercise does my dog need?

Just like us, dogs need regular workouts to stay in good physical and mental health. We want the best for our dogs, but because they don’t communicate the way we do, we may miss the signs that they need more exercise.

So what are the signs he’s itching to get moving in a more substantial way?

  • He’s overweight

Did you know more than half of pet dogs are overweight?

A simple weight test, as done by vets, is to check his ribs: if you can easily feel them through his coat, he’s doing well. This might sound strange – a healthy-weight dog tends to look too lean to the modern eye.

Maintaining a healthy weight can seriously improve your dog’s quality of life and add years to it too.

  • Restlessness

A well-exercised dog is a well-behaved dog. If he’s acting in a disruptive way, destroying everything in his wake, your dog is probably bored, with heaps of pent-up energy.

  • Lack of stamina

Initially, your dog should be able to run for 15 minutes without any trouble. If he can’t manage that, he’s probably out of shape.

A well-exercised dog is a well-behaved dog. If he’s acting in a disruptive way, destroying everything in his wake, your dog is probably bored, with heaps of pent up energy.

What about different breeds of dogs?

All dogs need exercise, though the amount will vary according to breed, size, age and health.

Active breeds, including some smaller ones like Jack Russells, tend to need 30 to 60 minutes of aerobic exercise daily. Smaller breeds may be called lap dogs, but they, too, need to get off the couch and start moving for at least 30 minutes a day.

This doesn’t mean just a walk around the block – good exercise engages the body and mind – think running that gets his heartbeat up, like when he’s playing fetch.

If you’re unsure, it’s always best to check with your vet exactly how much exercise is best for your dog.

Easing into an exercise routine

Start slowly. Remember: dogs also need a warming up and cooling down period – a leisurely stroll to the park and back will work for this purpose. Try not to push your dog too hard. You want him to associate exercise – and time with you – with happiness and exuberance.

It’s also a good idea to take your dog to the vet for a checkup. The vet will be able to suss out whether things like weight, injuries or age will limit your dog’s exercise programme.

How much exercise is too much for my dog?

Have you ever started a new gym routine and completely overdid it on the first day? You probably didn’t want to see the inside of a gym for at least a week.

The same is true of your dog: If you exercise him too hard, he’ll try to avoid repeating the experience or even develop a phobia. Here are some signs you need to go easy on the doggie exercise regime:

  • He’s yelping: This is one of the more obvious signs of distress.
  • Bulging eyes: Another sign of extreme discomfort.
  • Limping: Ouch. He’s hurt himself, so he’s trying to avoid placing weight on that limb.
  • Avoidance: He’s reluctant to join in the type of exercise he usually enjoys.
  • Sluggishness: He’s slow and exercise appears to be a strain.
  • Trouble breathing: Respiratory issues are a sure sign of overexertion.
  • Extended tongue: His tongue is extended far out with the tip curled up.

Fun ideas for spring exercise

With warmer weather and longer days, spring is a great time to start your dog’s exercise routine. Let’s look at some ideas for what you can do together.

1. Hop on a bike

Why not try getting your dog to run beside you as you cycle?

When your dog needs to match your pace, you know he’s getting a good workout for body and mind.

2. Jump in the water

Swimming is a great low-impact sport for pups. You might want to start your dog off with a life vest to make sure he’s safe. If you have an older dog who struggles to get around or your pooch needs to lose weight, hydrotherapy might be your solution.

This form of exercise can dramatically improve your dog’s quality of life. It’s also used to restore canine health after an injury, operation or illness.

3. Explore a hiking trail

Remember that dogs need mental stimulation as well. Walking a trail is the ideal mix of mental and physical exercise, as he’ll get to explore to his heart’s content while staying fit.

Are you interested in hydrotherapy for your dog? We have the country’s first canine specialist hydrotherapy pool, so pop into the store to make an appointment or give us a call: 09 448 2227.