Exercise is one of the most important aspects of dog care. However, so many old wives’ tails are bandied about concerning exercise that it’s no wonder some people become confused. The benefits of exercise for dogs are similar to those for humans: it generally keeps the mind and body healthy and is essential for longevity. While exercising is also the time when most dogs learn to socialise and make doggy and human friends –
Different breeds need varying amounts of exercise. Giant and large breeds need plenty of exercise, however, you need to be careful when they’re young. Because of their size and slow development they need to be exercised in moderation. Most competent breeders will guide owners on this matter or the Kennel Club (1 Clarges Street, Piccadilly, London) can supply breed club addresses who in turn will recommend exercise levels.
Of course size isn’t the only important factor. Dogs which were bred for chasing and running quickly –
Most young and middle-
That’s a difficult question. I’ll give you some general guidelines but if you’ve any doubts concerning your dog’s health or age then speak to you vet who will probably be acquainted with your dog’s particulars. In my view exercise should be primarily based on time and not distance walked. A dog which goes on a brisk half-
Puppies need gentle playful exercise; they have loose joints and developing muscles that are more susceptible to injury. A puppy should be taken on short walks preferably, never to the point were a puppy is exhausted. When a person has walked a puppy too far then the puppy will often flop down. Unfortunately the owner still has to get back to where he started which means more exercise which puppy could do without. Puppies enjoy playing in gardens and parks; when they’re tired they’ll rest. When you’re playing games don’t overdo it or over-
A fit, healthy dog is less lightly to suffer ailments than a less active counterpart –
Types of Exercise
Walking on a lead is good exercise and all healthy dogs will benefit from it. A flexi lead is useful because it gives your dog a little more freedom to exercise yet keeps him within your control –
This is the sort of exercise we normally think of, however, it’s important to remember that there are other forms of activity that are just as beneficial.
Teaching your dog to retrieve a toy on command is probably the most useful and rewarding game a dog can learn. Not only does it greatly increase the amount of exercise your dog gains daily but just as importantly, it builds up a powerful bond between owner and dog. It teaches the dog to depend on you for its enjoyment in life and it reduces the chance of having a dog that doesn’t come when called. It’s a method I have used for over twenty-
Dogs Playing Together
Dogs love playing together and this should be encouraged were possible. The amount of energy expended is considerable and beneficial. A dog should be trained to come back on command and not pester other dogs were it is not wanted. That’s why I strongly believe that on every walk you should involve yourself in at least one play game with the dog and not solely depend on other dogs interacting with yours.
Types of Toys
There are so many different types of toys on the market, though some stand out more than others as good accessories for play and retrieve. The Boomer and Kong toys by Roger Mugford are excellent and safe. Solid balls are sold in most pet shops but do be careful to buy one which your dog can’t swallow or get stuck in his throat. Tennis type balls which can be squashed in a dog’s jaws only to re-
Tug of War
This is another activity that can be played in the home or garden and gives delight to all participants. As long as you ensure that your dog always finishes up by giving up the rope or tug of war item then there’s no danger of dominance being encouraged. Children should NOT play tug of war games unless supervised and with very stable tempered non dominant dogs, as it can get out of hand. If the dog begins to become aggressive or over-
So don’t forget that the more you exercise your dog the more chance you have of being a healthy owner in partnership with your healthy best friend.
By Colin Tennant
Principal of the Cambridge Institute of Dog Behaviour & Training