Exercise for your Dog

Over the next few months my training tips will address common dog behavior problems, and what you can do to prevent them. Most often behavior problems are normal, natural, and often necessary dog behaviors that are simply being expressed in inappropriate ways. They usually are a result of some basic need of the dog that is not being met. So this month we will discuss the most common of those basic needs that is often neglected: the need for physical exercise.

The type and amount of exercise that is appropriate for a dog depends on his age, breed, activity level, and overall health.

For a young puppy, two to four months of age, a short walk several times a day is usually sufficient. As your puppy has not completed his series of immunizations yet be careful to walk him in clean, safe environments where you know that any resident dogs are well cared for. Avoid dog parks, pet stores or anywhere lots of dogs congregate. For puppies five to six months, slightly longer and more vigorous walks, twice a day, usually suffice. The best time to exercise your dog is early morning and evening, as this is the time he will be naturally more active. His walk will give him an outlet for his daily puppy zoomies.

As your puppy matures into adolescence, six to twelve months for small breeds and seven to eighteen or more months for large breeds, regular daily exercise is a must. For more active breeds, such as hunting or herding dogs, one to two hours of hard, vigorous play or running may be necessary to keep them mentally healthy. For some of the giant and lower energy breeds, thirty minutes a day may be enough to keep them happy. In most other adolescent dogs, 45-60 minutes of regular exercise on a daily basis is a reasonable goal.
Avoid all activities that involve jumping while your large breed dog is still growing, as this may contribute to the development of hip and joint problems. Also avoid the “weekend warrior” syndrome. If you plan to spend all weekend hiking with your dog, you must condition him gradually, just as you would condition yourself.

For adult dogs, again consider their breed, activity level, and overall health. While you should strive to meet their daily exercise needs, you can occasionally skip a day, without affecting their overall behavior. However, regular exercise is necessary to help your dog cope with any stressful situation, like changes in schedule or family dynamics, visitors, or increase in family member’s stress levels.

For geriatric dogs, please consult your veterinarian for appropriate exercise guidelines.

I live by the motto, “A tired dog is a good dog. When they’re sleeping they’re not getting in trouble!”

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