Dogs need activity for physical and mental health. The amount of exercise needed depends upon the size and breed of the dog. However, ALL dogs need exercise. Lack of exercise leads to poor muscle tone, obesity, and unstimulated mind. An exercised dog may be calmer and be less nervous when left alone, as well as improve a dogs overall health.
- Teaching your dog how to walk without pulling on his leash is the first step to exercising safely. Having your dog burst out in front of you or even lag, constantly pulling on the leash, can damage your dog’s throat; and it’s no fun either. You will have to teach your dog to heel to make sure it wont tug on the leash every time you take a walk.
- Be careful not to overestimate your dog's abilities. Know your dogs breed and take their age and size into consideration. Jogging or running is not recommended for young dogs whose bones haven’t finished growing. It can also be hard on the joints and bones of large dogs. Check with the veterinarian to find out if it’s safe for your dog to run.
- Just like people get blisters on their feet, dogs get blisters on their pads. Dogs with light-colored foot pads, can be prone to this problem. If you usually run on paved roads, avoid doing so on very hot days. Instead, run on dirt and grass. If your dog’s foot pads are especially sensitive, you can purchase special shoes made for dogs.
- Know your dog's playing style before going to a park to meet other dogs. Make sure your dog is able to adapt to another dog's playing style and not play unfairly. For example: Pit bulls can play very roughly and pretty much win any tug of war game, but it can hurt another with a softer jaw if it tugs too roughly. If a Labrador Retriever plays too bouncy and pounces too much on other dogs, it may set a dog off who doesn't like being pounced. A small terrier's instincts can kick in and can begin to chase other dogs and nip at their heels. Just because your puppy is fine with dogs within its family, it does not mean they'll react the same with other dogs. Be observant as your dog plays with others.
Exercise the Brain
Dogs don't just need physical exercise, they also need mental exercise. You can exercise your dog’s brain with food puzzle toys, obedience and trick training, and chew toys. Do activities that make your dog run around, like Frisbee, Hide-and-Seek, or catching bubbles (using a special bubbles made for dogs). If your dog enjoys the company of other dogs, taking it to the dog park, organizing a play group with friends or neighbors who have dogs.