Saturday, 23 June 2012

How Much Exercise Do Dogs Really Need?

All dogs need a bit of exercise to stay both physically and psychologically healthy, but the amount of exercise your dog needs depends heavily on the breed. Whether Eddie is a German shepherd or an English bulldog makes a huge difference in how often and how hard he should be "working out." Just like a human, dogs feel great after a good workout-it helps them feel happier and sleep better, which a sedentary lifestyle won't do. Additionally, it keeps bones, joints and muscles healthy, which will help Eddie when he gets older and isn't as sprightly. Every dog should get enough exercise so that he stays healthy and feels happy. Lying around all day for days on end doesn't make anyone feel good.
When you get a dog, you need to be realistic about how much exercise that particular breed needs. If Eddie is a greyhound for instance, that means he is built to run, have lean muscles and a huge amount of endurance. He'll enjoy going for runs with you and might seem a bit antsy if he doesn't get the exercise he needs. But even for greyhounds, the amount of exercise needed isn't extreme. A walk or two every day along with a bit of higher intensity exercise twice a week-playing long-distance fetch in a big open field will probably make him feel great. Having a fenced yard where he's free to walk around and stretch his legs is also a good idea. He doesn't need to run marathons every day, and in fact he shouldn't. Too much exercise can damage his bones and joints, leading to injury.
However, if Eddie is a pug, long-distance fetch isn't going to be his cup of tea. Dogs like pugs and bulldogs who have flat, squished faces are the breeds that need the least amount of exercise. This comes down to the fact that since dogs don't sweat, they rely on their noses to expel heat. Dogs with small, squished noses can't breathe as easily, and are prone to overheating if exercised too hard, or are in heat for too long. They also have small stout legs that aren't built for hard running. Pugs don't need to run. All they need to stay fit and healthy is a daily walk. They often spend up to 14 hours a day sleeping, and that's okay. For greyhounds though, that's not a good sign.
Tailoring an Exercise Program That's Perfect for Your Dog
In order to find out how much exercise your dogs needs, talk to your veterinarian. They have a lot of experience with different kinds of dogs and the expert knowledge you're looking for. Some breeds are more prone to things like hip problems, so the type of exercise you engage in with Eddie is also important. It's usually not recommended for most breeds to play the type of Frisbee fetch that causes dogs to jump high in the air and land hard on the ground, as this hurts their hips and can cause long-term damage that just gets harder to deal with as Eddie gets older. Find out what kind of problems he's susceptible to from your vet.
When it comes down to it, getting Eddie the right amount of exercise isn't as difficult as it's sometimes made out to be by others. You don't need to take him to the gym and have him run on a treadmill for 40 minutes five times a week! Thank goodness for that. Spending quality time with Eddie on his daily walks and during playtime is fun for you and him, and that will get him the exercise he needs. Rather than think of it as exercise, think of it as having fun, whether it's hiking, walking, playing fetch or whatever. If he lies down and decides he's had enough, that's a good indication that he's had enough for the day.
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