Just like humans, dogs need time outdoors and exercise daily. If they don’t get it your relationship will suffer.

A bored, cooped up dog is frequently a naughty dog. An exercised dog usually behaves much better for their owners and can be a calming force in your household. This should be one of the most important parts of deciding which dog to bring into your life.

How Much Exercise Does Your Dog Need?

How much exercise greatly depends on the breed, age, and any medical conditions the dog is facing.

As with people, your dog should build up exercise gradually and consistently. Some will never be athletes but you can help them to find a balance that keeps their brain and bodies happy.

Some dogs need more exercise than one person can provide and you may have to think through additional sources of energy burners.

Just putting a dog out in your yard is rarely a substitute for exercise, especially if they are living in a single dog household. They are social creatures and most truly thrive on play and exercise that is interactive in some way, either with their person or with other animals.

Does Size Affect How Much Exercise a Dog Needs?

The size of the dog is not always a great indicator of their energy levels. There are some small dogs who have been bred to be high-energy performers and some larger dogs that are not known for their athletic prowess.

Playgroups, daycares, dog walkers and commercial toys can all contribute to helping meet your dog’s exercise requirements if you aren’t able to do this yourself.

Laser pointers or flashlight chasing is NOT considered appropriate for dogs as some seem to develop neurotic behaviors when these are used for play.

I have listed some ideas at the bottom of this page for energy burning activities that may help wear down your super athletes.

When Not to Exercise Your Dog

If your dog is injured or has a medical condition exercise may not be a good idea. Just like if you hurt yourself, you would likely rest, see how things went for a few days, see a doctor if it was bad, and then slowly work back towards regular activity.

Sadly, sometimes your dog won’t have gotten the memo and you will have to look out for their interests while they are recuperating.

Keep tabs on the temperature. Some of the most tragic appointments I have seen involve heat stroke. It can happen at temperatures that may not seem excessively hot to us hairless humans. There are many dogs that push themselves further than is safe during hot weather.

If you have a breed that is known for respiratory challenges-this means all types of bulldogs and smooshy faced breeds-or a dog with medical conditions involving their heart or lungs you should be especially careful with over exercising your dog.

They are not able to blow off heat as easily and may get overheated even sooner than expected. As with many aspects of dog ownership, you are the grown up and must advocate for your dog even in the face of their exuberance.

Super Athlete Energy Burners

These are especially helpful for dogs who are bred for all-day athleticism and are well conditioned like pointers, border collies, and terriers.

These dogs frequently need more exercise than most humans can afford physically or time-wise and find all sorts of other ways to burn off energy that drive their people crazy.

Just like with people, exercise should be increased gradually and with a check-in with your dog’s health care provider in case it is not appropriate.

Good Energy Burning Activities For “Super Athlete” Dogs

  • Hill training
  • Backpacks filled to add resistance- they make these for dogs and need to be fitted properly
  • Treadmill work -they need to be taught how to use this safely and occasionally…poop happens.
  • Daycare
  • Sheep herding-yes there are places out there where you can buy time for your dog to herd sheep
  • Obstacle courses
  • Swimming

Photo Credit: istockphoto.com

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