Exercising Your Dog.
Taking your dog for walks is one of the best parts of dog ownership and is certainly the part that all our Holidays 4 Dogs carers enjoy the most. All of our approved carers enjoy an active lifestyle, getting out and about into the countryside with their four legged guests. Read on to find out more about the different types of exercise and the benefits it can bring.
Exercising your dog isn’t just about keeping your dog (and you!) fit and healthy. It is also about building a special bond and partnership with your four-legged pal.
What sort of exercise, and how much, really depends on the type of dog you live with. Border Collies, for example, will generally require more exercise than a St Bernard and both may require different types of exercise.
The St Bernard, on the other hand, will generally enjoy more sedate walks and trots. Some other large breeds, such as Greyhounds, are bred for short bursts of speed. Therefore, if they can have a few mad minutes letting off steam at high speed, they are usually happy for a gentle meander thereafter.
If you have a very young puppy, particularly a giant breed, it is essential they are not over-exercised. Too much strenuous activity in the form of long walks, especially on hard, or uneven terrain, can damage the development of the young pup. Hard exercise when young, can ultimately impact on a dog’s health in later life.
Very young pups should only have play and exercise in the garden to begin with. Always be guided by the pup’s own energy levels. Of course puppies need socialising, but try to avoid long walks in the process.
For the same reason, it is best to avoid games which involve a lot of twisting, or jumping. Again, this can cause minor sprains and injuries which put further strain on the developing young dog.
Energy levels in the elderly can rapidly decline as they age. As with puppies, pottering around the garden may be quite enough for the ageing dog. While dogs need exercise daily, there comes a point when it is unfair to drag an old dog on the routine walk he may have managed in his younger days.
Older dogs need to keep active, but be guided by your dog. If he is very slow and walking stiffly, it is possible he is experiencing discomfort. In the same way you wouldn’t drag grand-dad for a ten mile hike, spare a thought for the old dog who may be suffering from similar age related aches and pains.
A short stroll, with plenty of opportunity to sniff may suit him better and will be enough to keep his body and brain active.
As with any form of exercise, build up gradually. Short walks on the lead can be combined with a quick spurt off-lead running, or ball games. Always ‘warm up’ first by walking the dog gently at the beginning of the walk. When you come to the end of your walk, ‘warm down’ by putting the dog back on the lead and walk him at gentle pace for about ten, or fifteen minutes.
Different types of exercise.
There are other forms of exercise besides walking. If both you and your dog are quite fit, running is a good way to exercise energetic dogs. For more formal running you may be interested in getting involved in canicross events.
Swimming is an excellent way to build stamina without putting undue pressure on the body. Take your dog to a safe natural swimming spot, or alternatively, there are many good canine hydrotherapy spas across the U.K. Swimming is especially useful for dogs recovering from injury. It is also a great way for pet dogs to use up excess energy in a safe environment, with experts on hand to assist.
Dog sports such as obedience, or agility, are great ways to exercise your dog – and it’s great fun! These sports have the added benefit of building on training and obedience under the supervision of experienced handlers.
Try and vary the types of exercise your dog does as much as possible. Taking the same route daily is not only boring for you, but monotonous for the dog too.
Mixing with other friendly dogs and engaging in play is also good exercise for the dog’s mind and body.
Playing games while out and about walking is also an excellent way to exercise the whole dog. This has the added benefit of keeping your dog’s mind active at the same time. Take a look at our other Holidays4Dogs articles on dog games and walking activities.
Some claim that muscle massage after exercise can prevent the build up of lactic acid which causes muscle soreness. This certainly can’t harm and will no doubt be much appreciated by the tired dog! After exercising your dog, make sure he is rubbed down with a towel if the weather is wet and cold.
Avoid feeding your dog too soon after exercise. Wait at least an hour before giving your dog his normal meal. This is important if you own a large, or giant breed, as they can be susceptible to stomach torsion (bloat).
Getting out and about with your dog is one of the joys of living with companion dogs. Meeting new people, seeing the changing face of the land and maintaining your own, and your dog’s health and fitness is good for the soul, as well as the body.