How Much Exercise Should My Dog Get?
While some dogs are happy to live more sedentary lives than others, the fact remains that all dogs need walking and exercise. Taking your dog for a walk gives not only gives it the opportunity to relieve itself, but also an outlet for pent up energy. Dogs that do not get adequate exercise may demonstrate behavioral problems, and are more prone to health concerns like canine obesity. When you give your dog a designated time for exercise, you promote better health, help it live longer and make its behavior more manageable.
If you are looking for a dog that requires less exercise, you may want to adopt a small dog. As a general rule of thumb, small breeds like chihuahuas and pugs require less exercise than larger, more athletic dogs. Still, that does not mean that they do not require some exercise -- just exercise of a different type, and in smaller quantities. Instead of taking your small dog on a five-mile run, for instance, you may just need to take it for a walk around the block. The same goes for overweight dogs -- if you are only just starting your dog on an exercise regimen, start slowly to avoid exhaustion.
Aerobic exercise like walking produces brain chemicals that increase contentment. If your dog acts restless or agitated, it may need exercise. Dogs, like most animals, have energy stores that need to be spent up -- if they do not get the exercise and excitement they need, they may take to destructive behavior around the house. If your dog chews on the furniture or your belongings, take it outside, play fetch with a dog toy, and run around with it to meet its urges.
Getting your dog exercise doesn't necessarily mean taking it outside -- depending on the size of your dog, you may be able to give it the mental and physical stimulation that it needs right inside your home. Throw a toy across the house for a simple game of fetch, or use a laser pointer to give your dog something to chase. Indoor games like these are best saved for smaller breeds -- an indoor game of fetch with your golden retriever may result in overturned furniture or injury.
Exercise can be dangerous for your dog, so be careful to give it the type of exercise it needs. For example, you may want to take your dog to the park to throw a flying disc for it -- if you throw the disc too high, though, your dog may hurt itself leaping up to catch it. Similarly, walking your dog in the heat may expose it to heat exhaustion or dehydration. When the temperature rises, take cool water with you when you exercise. Make sure your dog stays hydrated and splash it with cold water to help it cool off.
By Tom Ryan
About the Author
Tom Ryan is a freelance writer, editor and English tutor. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English writing, and has also worked as an arts and entertainment reporter with "The Pitt News" and a public relations and advertising copywriter with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.