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Dog Weight Problems – Is Your Dog Exercising Enough?

Posted Mar 05 2011 1:03am

Everyone knows that a dog, like a human, needs exercise to avoid weight problems but how much exercise is enough? We really must take into consideration the dog’s breed and size as well as the dog’s age and possible limitations. So, let’s go over a few important points in order to set up a proper exercise regimen for our best friend.

We need to take a look at the dog’s breed first. Over time, dogs have been bred for many different purposes; to work, to hunt, to race, for show, etc. If a dog’s natural instincts tell it to chase after anything that moves he will probably be more active than one that has been bred to sit on one’s lap looking beautiful. If it’s in a dog’s nature to pull or carry loads for its master, how happy and how fit will the dog be if he’s lying on a sofa all day? Working and hunting dogs need to feel worthwhile and like to be kept busy by their owners. If you own one of these breeds, you must put extra effort into maintaining a high level of activity for them or they will develop behavioral and/or dog weight problems.

Now, let’s take a look at your dog’s size. Large dogs are incapable of getting the exercise they need by running around the house unless they have access to a large yard where they can run and play. Just because they lie on the floor doesn’t mean they’re tired and would rather not go for a brisk walk. However, even if you have a large yard, your dog will still need walks and play time because, to him, the yard simply becomes a larger room and he’ll eventually get bored. Small dogs, on the other hand, can keep themselves quite active indoors. If your dog interacts with other pets in the house, runs, jumps and has rigorous sessions with his toys, he may be getting sufficient exercise along with his daily walks to keep him healthy and happy.

If you have a young dog or puppy in your home, you shouldn’t have much trouble getting him out of the house and walking. However, if your dog is getting on in years, you should gently encourage him to go for daily walks which will help to keep him agile. Don’t force him into strenuous exercise that could harm him, however. A walk doesn’t have to turn into a marathon or an uphill hike in the mid-summer sun. Just as in humans, age slows down a dog’s metabolism. Therefore you should continue his daily exercise which will help to control any weight gain (see Dog Weight Problems for good information on this topic) which, in turn, may help to reduce the severity of joint disease.

Obviously, there are situations that are not conducive to lots of physical activity such as illness or pregnancy. If your dog is ill, a few days’ rest will probably do him more good than a forced walk. Pregnant females should never be pushed into strenuous activity and should be allowed to rest for a couple of hours after meals.

So what if you aren’t able to go for long walks? Don’t worry. Your dog will benefit (and so will you) from shorter, more frequent walks and also from playing fetch, tugging on a rope toy and even playing (or trying to destroy) a special stuffed toy that you give him. Just remember that if you give your dog chew toys like rawhide strips or pig ears which can occupy him physically and mentally for long periods of time, too many may create unwanted weight problems. Another thing you can do is find out where the dog parks are in your area because your dog will truly benefit from running and exploring without being hampered by a leash and you’ll probably find areas where you can sit and watch him. If you have neighbors with dogs that are approximately the same size, you can set up play dates so they can run, wrestle and simply socialize.

Keep in mind that their hearts, muscles and circulatory systems need strengthening just like our own and because of this, activity is the key. However, your best friend would much rather drop in his tracks than let you down so make sure he’s not over-heating (carry some water for him if you go out on very hot days) and that he’s not overly tired. And, of course, if you are planning to make a big change in your dog’s exercise regimen, please make sure to check with your veterinarian first.

My name is Maria Hausle. I’m a true animal lover with a dog and a cat that run my life and I’m serious about making their lives better.

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