Exercising with your dog not only strengthens the bond you two share, it also helps control his weight and maintain a healthy heart, lungs and muscles.
As you exercise with your dog, consider his needs and present physical condition. Leisurely walks may be best for an older dog while a young dog has ample energy for a vigorous exercise program.
If your dog has more energy to expend than you do, teach him to fetch a ball or a flying disc. The activity may be just right for you and a challenging exercise for your dog.
If, for whatever reason, you have not exercised your dog regularly and decide to launch a regular exercise program, go slow at first. Begin with short periods of activity at slow speeds and gradually increase the time, speed and distance.
Begin walking or running your dog on soft surfaces such as dirt, sand or grass until its pads toughen.
Keeping your dog on a leash gives you control when walking or running.
Avoid exercising your dog immediately before or after he’s eaten. A full stomach may cause digestive upsets. Provide only small amounts of water before and directly after exercise.
Weather conditions are an important consideration as you exercise your pet. Dogs can suffer from frostbite and heat stroke just as people do. If you walk your dog in the snow, be sure to wipe the paw pads to remove any snow and ice buildup or possible salt that may have gotten caught. Remember that your dog’s feet can be damaged by hot asphalt during the summer.
If you walk your dog in wooded areas during the summer, check his eyes, haircoat and feet for foxtail, seeds and dirt. Also check carefully for ticks. Dogs with short, smooth haircoats may require the warmth of a dog coat or sweater when they go outside during cold weather.
Check with local authorities to find out what local laws allow. Your police department or animal control department can tell you more about laws in your municipality.
As you walk your dog, train him to walk at your side to help control him so he won’t jump on children, other dogs or adults, frightening them or possibly injuring them.
If your dog has a history of medical problems, work with your veterinarian to plan an appropriate exercise program. Whatever exercise program you pursue, remember that your dog loves to spend time with you and you can make that time special.