Your pup may love going on walks around the block and playing with friends at the park, or might even get the occasional zoomies. But how do you know if your dog is getting enough “exercise”? No, we don’t mean lifting weights or running on the treadmill, but actual activity. Making sure Fido gets enough activity on a day-to-day basis has a ton of benefits, such as relieving stress and generally just burning off steam. Play can help them channel some of that excess energy, and doing agility or training drills can be surprisingly tiring.
Exercising can also help prevent and address extra weight that might be holding your pup back from living it’s best life. It’s actually been estimated that 55.8% of dogs in the U.S. are carrying more weight than they should, which can absolutely get in the way of play time. A dog’s weight can have a massive impact on their overall health, so it’s important we help them maintain a healthy weight for their breed and general size. Dogs with extra weight are more likely to develop damage to their joints, bones, and ligaments. It can also cause strains and tears on the body that can require surgery. Other issues weight problems can lead to include heart problems and diabetes.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to help your dog maintain a healthy weight. Along with a healthy diet, exercise and play can drastically improve your pup’s health! In this post, we are going to talk all about pup exercise and everything you can do and try to help keep your dog active!
How to Exercise Your Dogs
So how much exercise does your pup need? As always, the answer is, It depends! It’s important for pet parents to take into consideration their dog’s age, any health restrictions, and lifestyle.
Puppies, for example, generally have far more energy than adult dogs and certainly more than senior dogs. Puppies benefit the most from exercise in short bursts. Shorter play sessions or walks several times a day is usually recommended and a lot easier on a puppy’s growing body.
Breed and lifestyle very heavily figures into how much exercise an adult dog needs. Breeds like Border Collies and German Shepherds need much more exercise and more challenge unlike lower energy breeds like Bulldogs and Shih Tzus that are perfectly happy with a leisurely walk.
Senior dogs have different exercise needs as well. Some senior dogs will have a harder time doing activities so it’s best to be mindful and patient when going on walks with older dogs. It’s still important for mental stimulation and overall health that senior dogs get exercise. Talk to your veterinarian if they have any specific guidelines for exercising your dog given their particular medical history.
Exercising For Weight Loss
If your dog is overweight, it’s vital to get them moving to help them shed those extra pounds. The most important thing to keep in mind when exercising an overweight dog is to do so gradually. Overweight dogs are more prone to overheating and heat stroke. Unlike humans, dogs rely on panting to dissipate and since overweight dogs can have compromised cardio-respiratory systems due to the strain extra weight places on it, they are less capable of managing heat.
Additionally, the extra weight also places stress on your dog’s joints and bones. Ruptured tendons and ligaments which are painful and need corrective surgery is common for overweight dogs. Because of this, it’s very important that when you start an exercise regimen for your pup that you start off slowly. Try walking your pup twice a day for only ten minutes and as they gradually lose weight and build up strength, start extending the length of walks to thirty minutes.
As with any weight loss program though, exercise is an aid to weight reduction. It’s also important that your pup gets the right amount of food, the right amount of calories and nutrition to aid them in their weight loss journey. Figuring out the correct amount of food is difficult and with the endless amount of choices on the market, it can be a potentially daunting task. Puppo is here to help your pet out in their weight loss journey with a personalized weight loss dog food program! We can help your pet lose weight safely by creating a food plan just made for your dog with their wellness and health goals in mind.
Exercise Tips: Dog Sports and Activities to Try with Your Pup
Exercising with your pet should be fun! Your dog wants to spend time with you and whether it be playing sports or taking long walks, exercise is a great way to deepen the bond between you and your dog!
It’s also important to take into consideration the activities you and your dog both enjoy doing together!
Sometimes we humans have to work all week and save all the fun with our pup for the weekend and that’s okay! If your pup is a weekend warrior, remember to make sure to warm up your dog before going on that long hike or zooming through that obstacle course. Just as in humans, going straight into strenuous activity without preparation can lead to muscle damage. If you and your pup partner-in-adventure are going to go on long hikes, make sure you take water for your pup as well, and pay attention to your pup’s body responses. If your pet starts to slow down, get agitated, or start panting too heavily, they may be getting too hot and it may be time to pack it in.
Try to tap into exercise that your dog enjoys as well. Do they love walks most of all? Walks allow dogs to see and smell their surroundings and allow them to interact with the world. Some water loving breeds such as Labradors might love getting a dip in the pool or in a lake. Sky’s the limit with exercise!
If you and your pet want a bit more of a challenge or want to try something new to spice up your exercise regimen, there are a variety of dog sports your dog can try!
Do you have water loving pooch? Will they do anything to grab their favorite toy? Why don’t you give dock diving a try?
Dock diving is played by tossing a dog’s favorite toy into a pool and then on command, have the dog run down a dock of about 40 feet. The dog jumps off the end of the dock into the pool of water to grab his toy. The goal here is the dog to leap the longest jump is the best dock diver. SUPER DOG! (p.s. Wanna see a few epic videos? *we know you do* check out this link, or this, or this.)
This is a fun sport for water dogs and dogs who love their toys above everything else in the world!
Agility is one of the more popular dog sports out there. It involves navigating an obstacle course where the dog will crawl through tunnels, weave through poles, and leap through tires and requires tight communication between the dog and their human. Animal planet for.the.win.
All kinds of dogs can participate in agility whether they are large breed or small breed. You don’t even have to go to a facility in order to try agility with your pet. While you can enter your dog in agility competitions if you want, you can certainly just create a backyard obstacle course and do agility for fun!
Mushing is where a team of dogs pull a sled or rig across snow or dry land. There are many types of mushing sports: sled dog racing, scootering, bikejoring, Canicross, Skijoring, and weight pulling. It’s not just the Iditarod anymore - who knew there were so many pup winter sports (that involve them doing the work….sign us up!)
Mushing sports are one of the oldest sports dogs have participated in with dogs pulling sleds dating all the way back to 2000 B.C.
The most famous of these races is the still Iditarod in Alaska, of course. However, you can still participate in mushing sports even if neither you nor your dog want to trek through ice and sleet. Activities such as bikejoring or canicross where a dog pulls you while you peddle or run is a fantastic activity you and your dog can do together.
There is a wide variety of obedience sports you and your pet can participate in as well! The focus of all obedience sports however is to showcase the tightness of the communication between the dog and their human and demonstrates this with their willingness and enjoyment to obey commands.
Rally obedience (or Rally-O) is all about teamwork. You and your dog navigate through a course together side by side as you guide your dog through different exercises by giving them commands.
Another type of obedience sport that is a crowd pleaser is the canine freestyle! Canine freestyle is a choreographed trick training and showcase set to music! Some basic obedience tricks are incorporated but largely, humans and their dogs can get creative in the routines they perform with their pet!
Also, obedience can be casual skills that you’re working on with your pup - like sitting, heeling, closing drawers in your kitchen, shaking your hand, or sitting on certain targets like rocks or stumps. These types of tricks not only help teach your pup discipline and respect for you, but also can help tire them out mentally so they are more relaxed and less off-the-walls then when you got home after a few hours.
Exercising Your Pup is About So Much More Than Weight Management
While exercising does play a pivotal role in your dog’s weight management, it also provides an opportunity for owner and pet bonding. All of the activities listed in this post require you to get involved and take on something new with your companion, be that a new training program or even something as simple as committing to going to the park every weekend.
If weight management is an issue you’re currently tackling for your pup, however, the combination of consistent exercise and a healthy diet are sure to help. Puppo’s weight loss nutrition plan makes it easy for you to help get your dog on the right track. Take our quiz to get custom nutrition recommendations today.