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Last Updated on September 30, 2019 by Diane Hoffmaster
Want to exercise with your dog to stay healthy and have fun? There are a few things you should consider before you get started. Staying active with your dog can be beneficial to both of you, but don't jump into it too quickly!
How much exercise to dogs need?
The amount of exercise a dog needs is really dependent on the breed and age. If they are putting on weight or destroying your house, you may want to increase the activity level of your pet. Many years ago, my husband and I discovered the joy of competitive dog training and getting involved in dog sports. At the time, we had a German Shepherd and a Dutch Shepherd who needed a whole lot of exercise.They needed something to burn off energy and keep their minds busy.
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Staying active with your dog can be a lot of fun. We tackled the obedience ring, agility, fly-ball, disc dog, and just about everything else we could get involved in. We had a blast and so did the dogs. Fast forward a few years and along came the kids. Between the chaos of babies and our pet's advancing age, we put dog sports on the back burner for a while. A few years ago we decided to get another Dutch Shepherd and she has been a bit of a challenge!
Look at that face! Yes, she looks a bit intimidating, but with us she is really a marshmallow. However, little did we know that the pup we picked out so carefully would turn out to be incredibly dog aggressive. We had such plans to get involved in dog sports again but had to table that when we realized she would never be trustworthy around other dogs.
Dutch Shepherds are incredibly active and high drive dogs. Staying active with your dog helps cut back on troublesome behaviors caused by too much energy. Obviously, dog sports were out but she still has a huge back yard for tennis ball chasing and squirrel catching! If you want to start getting your own pet more exercise but don't know where to start, here are a few tips for staying active with your dog! Want to get a ballpark idea of how much exercise dogs need? Check out the American Kennel Club for a few tips.
What is considered an active dog?
How much and what kind of exercise does a dog need to be considered ''active''? In general, normal levels of activity for a dog is up to 3 hours of 'walking' a day. That means, they spend three hours a day in the yard wandering aimlessly and go for a short walk with you at night.
An active dog is one that gets a minimum of about an hour of high intensity exercise on a semi regular basis. If you want to start running with your dog or take them on long weekend hikes, those things would list your dog as high activity. And that is when you need to start paying special attention to their physical health more closely!
Exercises you can do with your dog to stay active
Backyards and nearby parks are fun ways to get your dog more active, however, they don't get YOU moving very much. Here are a few tips on how you and your dog can exercise together:
- Take a hike. Hiking with your dog can be a lot of fun. Let them carry their own poop bags, treats and collapsible water bowl in a dog hiking backpack. Start small and work up to higher intensity hikes. This will help you both stay healthy and prevent injury.
- Go for a swim. Keep in mind that dogs cannot just magically know how to swim. “Sink or swim” is NOT the best or most humane way to teach a dog to swim. Start slowly in shallow water and stay close. Depending on your access to swimming locations, you may or may not be able to join your dog in this activity.
- Jog or run. This is one activity that just about any dog can do. And once they get into the habit of going on a morning run with you, they won't let you wimp out when the weather is chilly without some serious puppy dog eyes!
- Tug-of-war. Invest in a good tug of war rope for dogs and you will get a serious workout with a decent size dog.
- Play catch. You'll get a great arm workout. Chase the ball WITH your dog and those sprints will have you gasping for air!
- Dog yoga: On rainy days, stay inside and do some dog yoga with your canine friend!
Tips for Staying Active with Your Dog
Exercise is good for the mental well-being of both dogs and humans. But, to prevent injury and maintain optimum health, you need to do a bit of planning. Here are some tips to give your dog the exercise they need while still making sure they stay healthy.
Do some research:
You should give some thought to HOW you will be staying active with your dog. Will you be hiking or biking? Running or walking? Every breed and every dog has their own unique likes and dislikes so try a whole bunch of things on your journey to staying active with your dog! Check out my hiking tips if that is an activity you are considering!
Get your vet's approval:
If your dog is particularly young or getting to be a senior, make sure you check with your vet about possible health concerns. Make sure they are current on all their vaccines. Any time you take your dog off your property, you risk coming across other dogs who may or may not be healthy.
Make sure YOU are healthy, too!
Don't neglect your own physical needs. Get a checkup, bring water and snacks for you AND the dog if needed, and make sure you have all the right gear for both of you.
Choose the best high quality dog food:
Just like humans, you are what you eat when you are a dog, too. High quality foods provide better nutrition and more easily digested nutrients. Simple ingredients, whole foods, fewer empty carbs and lots of high quality nutrients will fuel your pet while on the trail or in the back yard chasing tennis ball.
Staying active with your pets is great fun for both you AND them. Wearing them out with plenty of exercise means they are better behaved at home. How do YOU stay active with your dog?
Diane is a professional blogger and nationally certified pharmacy technician at Good Pill Pharmacy. She has two college aged kids, one husband and more pets than she will admit to. She earned her BS in Microbiology at the University of New Hampshire but left her career in science to become a stay at home mom. Years of playing with LEGO and coloring with crayons had her craving a more grown up purpose to her life and she began blogging and freelance writing full time. You can learn more about her HERE.