Dogs are not born to be couch potatoes. And just like us, they need motivation to exercise. Simply put, your dog needs to move around, and as a matter of fact, so do we humans.
Not only are dog exercises suitable for your dog's overall health, but they're also a fantastic way for you to spend time with your pup and bond over fun activities. They say a dog is a man's best friend, and the other way around is also accurate. Any time you get to spend together is a time your pup will cherish - it's a win-win situation.
Understanding Your Pup's Exercise Needs
"How much exercise does a dog need each day?" is a question every dog parent should ask before bringing a pup home. Regardless of breed and size, dogs require regular physical activity to grow strong muscles, maintain a healthy weight, and safeguard cardiovascular health. And the responsibility to encourage and help them meet their needs falls onto you.
Dogs need owners who can and will keep up with their exercise needs. If you're full of energy, you should get a dog that matches your energy levels, like a Border Collie, for example, or a Husky or a Labrador Retriever. But if you're more of a mellow fellow, consider going for smaller and less active breeds, like Shih Tzus or English Bulldogs. While the more active breeds require more vigorous and frequent dog exercises like running, fetching, and swimming, inactive ones are usually content with short walks and indoor play.
How much exercise your dog needs daily largely depends on its breed, age, and physical condition. But the truth is, you alone can figure out Fido's actual needs. Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night to find your four-legged friend darting around the house at full speed? Restlessness, excessive barking, and even destructive behavior are all clues that you haven't met your dog's exercise needs. As your dog's best friend, only you can tailor its exercise routine to meet its needs; you'll guarantee its physical and mental well-being.
Related: How to Keep Your Dog Teeth Clean
Maximizing Health Benefits through Dog Exercises
Now that we've established that your dog's health and fitness should be a top priority, you'll want to know how to use exercising best. Each dog is a unique case, and most owners will learn the dos and don'ts of their dog's exercise regimen through trial and error. After all, a little pup, a full-grown dog, and a senior have different needs, which vary throughout their lives.
Depending on a dog's health condition, those needs shift even more. For example, there are dedicated exercises for dogs with hip dysplasia, exercises for dogs with congestive heart failure, and other exercises for dogs with vestibular problems. Canine companions with these health conditions require extra care, patience, and veterinarian advice.
Depending on Fido's breed, age, and health condition, you must tailor a suitable set of dog exercises to keep your pooch healthy and happy. You must also be consistent with your furry friend's daily schedule because dogs love routine. It would help if you first took it easy and gradually increased the intensity to get maximum benefits from your dog's exercise regimen. One must learn to walk before they can run.
When it comes to maximizing health benefits through exercise, there's a crucial factor that's easy to forget: variety. Fido will get bored doing the same dog workout repeatedly, day in and day out. So why not spice things up a little? Instead of walking the same route every day, explore a new path. And play a game of fetch in that perfect new area you discovered.
And when you've done enough of that for a while, try a dog-friendly beach or hiking trail - you get the drill. Don't forget that investing some time out of the day to work on muscle ups for dogs and stretching your dog ensures that Fido gets stronger and has higher endurance over time.
Dog Exercise Techniques and Tips
Know Your Dog's Abilities and Endurance
No matter how energetic your dog is in the house and how much exercise you think it can handle, the signs you see on their faces and overall demeanor tell you a different story. Because of their fur and shorter legs, dogs tend to overheat faster than we do and get exhausted more quickly. With that in mind, how much exercise a dog should get daily highly depends on how well it handles the activities you encourage.
If you notice excessive panting, a tongue hanging out far too low, pale gums, or an unwillingness to go out the following day, chances are you overworked your furry friend the day before. Other signs include vomiting on the way home and lagging during your daily dog walking exercise. The intensity and length of dog exercises Fido can handle are things you'll learn over time, and once you do, you'll know how to maintain a steady pace.
Base Your Pup's Exercise Routine Around Its Health Conditions
While all dogs need a certain amount of exercise, some require a specific routine tailored to meet their health needs. When it comes to senior dogs and exercise, for example, you can't go for a vigorous way that would leave your older dog panting for breath. The same holds when you think about exercise and congestive heart failure in dogs. You must be gentle yet assertive when exercising your dog with health problems because too much intensity can hurt it just as much as getting no movement.
On the other hand, if your dog's breed is prone to hip dysplasia, put it on specific exercises to prevent the condition from developing early on. A good diet, a healthy weight, and not putting too much strain on the joints can give your pup a higher chance of avoiding hip dysplasia. In other words, dog exercises can be a preventive measure and rehabilitation when you build it around your pup's existing or possible health conditions.
Take the Weather Into Consideration
If the weather is too cold or hot for you, it is cold or hot for your furry friend. During the hotter months, you should avoid exercising during the hottest time. Even when it's in the early morning or late afternoon, stick to shorter exercises during hot summers. Also, make sure the pavement your dog is walking on is not too hot, and always have water on you to quench your furry baby's thirst. During the colder months, you should also stick to shorter dog exercises and avoid snowy areas as much as possible - unless you have a cold-hardy dog like a Husky or a Saint Bernard. On days when the weather's not helping, you can always stick to casual dog exercises at home.
Remember: You are Fido's Best Friend
You know how your dog gets all excited when you return home? You can find that same excitement in your dog when it realizes you're about to work out together. Going out for a walk, a jog, a hike, or even a swim together makes you two exercise buddies, and the bond between exercise buddies is hard to break.
Even when the weather's not convenient to explore the great outdoors, you can always find ways to get your dog to exercise indoors and still enjoy it. Consider creating a fun game for the two of you, or set up a small agility course with items available at home and give Fido a good challenge for body and mind. In any case, remember that your dog will treasure your presence, so be there.
Practical Guidance for Dog Exercises
Distribute Your Dog's Exercises Across the Day
While taking your dog on a long walk once a day might be convenient, it could be better. It's worth thinking of additional ways to exercise your dog. It means distributing your dog's exercises throughout the day. Take it on a short walk before work, play a game of fetch after work, and do some muscle-ups at night. Do all this while keeping your pup's endurance and abilities in mind.
Enjoy the Great Outdoors, but Don't Underestimate the Indoors
Exploring the great outdoors with your canine friend is a fun way to bond, especially when you leave your comfort zone and explore new terrain. But the best exercises for dogs are not limited to the outdoors; you can also have tons of fun inside the house. After all, who wants to go out in the middle of the night, let's say, just because their dog got the zoomies? Instead of heading out, try some doga (yoga for dogs), dog stretching, or romping around in your living room.
You can even stimulate its brain through mental exercises like teaching them new tricks or creating a small adventure for it. Undoubtedly, Fido will have as much fun and still reap the benefits of such activities.
Dog Exercise Ideas
In case you are searching for exercise ideas for Fido, here are some.
Take a Stroll Around the Block
A quick stroll around the neighborhood is your pup's most basic form of exercise. Consider starting with a five-minute walk twice daily to get your muscles moving and gradually work up to 30 or 40 minutes.
Go to a Local Dog Park
Does Fido get along with other dogs? If yes, consider taking it to your local dog park and letting it romp with its new buddies. However, make sure to keep an eye out for foul play.
A perfect way to get your pup running outside is to play fetch. You can use a tennis ball, a soft frisbee, or an actual throw toy for dogs - whichever the little rascal likes to play with.
Do an Agility Course
Take it up a notch by setting up an agility course. You only need a few large pots, a plastic step stool, and Fido’s favorite toys. Place the objects around your backyard and let the fun begin.
Have a Puppy Playdate
To Fido, you might be the world. But it doesn't hurt for it to have its social circle. If there's a dog park in your area, take your four-legged friend out there and leave it in the company of fellow canines. You'll be surprised at how quickly dogs bond and start playing around together. For once, you can sit back and relax while your dog and its new friends run around and put in some exercise. Even if you have no dog parks near you, you can always look for friendly dog owners in your neighborhood and organize playdates in the backyard.
If you know a friend who has a dog that yours can get along with, consider setting up a playdate for them to run around together. Besides getting their daily dose of exercise, playing with their kind boosts mental health and simulation.
On days when the weather is perfect, why not go hiking with your canine companion? It can be an ideal workout for both of you. Make sure it’s a dog-friendly trail, and watch for snakes and insects.
And while enjoying the hiking adventure with your faithful companion, the thoughtful choice of utilizing compostable and biodegradable bags for the responsible collection of dog waste becomes an essential gesture of environmental mindfulness.
Play Hide and Seek
Try hiding somewhere in your house or backyard for a hide-and-seek game. While you’re hiding, call your dog’s name and wait as it frantically runs around trying to find you. You can also catch its interest by using a squeaky toy.
Use a Laser Toy
Lasers aren’t just for cats. Chances are your dog will get a thrill out of chasing the laser dot. Be careful where you direct the laser and avoid pointing it at Fido’s face.
Swimming is an excellent non-impact dog workout - which can be especially ideal for older dogs with arthritis or joint issues. A local dog-friendly beach, a backyard pool, and even a clean pond in the great outdoors are all great places to take your pooch swimming.
Dog Exercise Benefits for Longevity
How much activity does a dog need daily to live a long life? There needs to be a direct answer to this question. However, regular exercise helps maximize your dog's lifespan and guarantees a healthier life. Routine activities, a nutritious diet, good dental care, and mind-stimulating games can do wonders for your dog's longevity.
Like us, dogs need exercise to stay in shape and lead a healthier and more energetic life, and it's up to you to provide that for them. Even if you're starting to implement a dog exercise routine, Fido will begin reaping the benefits in no time. Make sure your plan involves exercising several times a day, accounts for any health conditions your dog may have, and has lots of variety.
If done right, your pup will pour all of its energy into these exercises instead of taking it all on your sofas and tables. And remember - a healthy dog is a happy dog.