In determining your dog’s exercise needs, the first step you should take is to talk with your veterinarian. Your vet can make sure that your dog is in proper health, and can advise you about the exercise tendencies of your dog’s particular breed. Working dogs, for example, like the Australian Shepherd and the Australian Cattle Dog, need high levels of exercise – and thrive on it. Other breeds, such as the Boston Terrier, don’t need as much exercise, and can be quickly affected by the heat on warm days. Your veterinarian will also take your dog’s age into consideration. Young dogs will need more exercise than elderly dogs, and you will likely find that as your dog ages he will slow down a bit in both the intensity and duration of his exercise needs.
Most dogs need between 30 and 60 minutes of moderate exercise a day. This can consist of a fast-paced walk, run, or even a session of fetch. Working dogs generally need multiple exercise sessions. As you exercise your dog, watch him for signs of fatigue, and never push him farther than he wants to go. Your dog may pant heavily, lie down, or slow his pace. Listen to him and give him water and a break when he tells you it’s time.
If your dog isn’t getting enough exercises, it will be evident in a few ways. He may gain weight (but overfeeding paired with adequate exercise may also result in weight gain). He may have excess energy and seem hyper around the house. Extra energy can also manifest in destructive behavior such as chewing and excessive barking. Your dog may also be distracted and antsy during training sessions.
There are many ways to provide your dog with exercise, so get creative! Consider taking up a sport with your dog, such as flyball or dock diving. If the weather is very cold or very hot, playing with a ball inside the house may work, depending on the size of your house. If you have a pond nearby, your dog may love swimming. Go for a hike or go to a dog park.
If you’re questioning whether your dog’s getting enough exercise, schedule an appointment with your vet to talk it over. He or she can give you information on your individual dog’s needs.
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