Dogs and exercise

How important is it to exercise my dog?

Just as humans need to exercise to stay well and healthy, so our dogs need to exercise regularly. This will ensure that poochie’s weight is kept down and all that pent-up energy is worked off. Physical activity can help to make your dog live longer. Obesity is an increasingly serious problem amongst dogs, which can leave him/her prone to diseases such as diabetes mellitus, cancers, joint injury and osteoarthritis. Dogs can also get bored which can lead to illnesses related to stress and it can also lead to behavioural  problems, so exercising will help him/her mentally by burning off all that extra energy.

How much exercise does my furry friend need?

This, of course, varies from one dog to another and also depends on age, health, and breed. You should gradually increase the length of time and the intensity of exercise so that your pooch can build up his/her fitness and stamina. Your vet will be able to give you advice as to what will benefit your dog. Always ensure that water and shade are available to prevent your doggie from becoming dehydrated.

Here are a few tips for you:

  • Breed

Some breeds have extra energy levels are need more exercise, such as Belgian Malinois and Border Collies; other breeds like the Bassett Hound and Bulldog require less exercise as they have lower energy. Chinese Pugs and Shih Tzus, with short noses, do not tolerate heat and exercise as well as other dogs, so require less and lower intensity exercise.

  • Health

You should also consider your dog’s health when planning exercise. If your doggie has certain conditions, such as hip dysplasia, heart or respiratory problems, then you should consult your vet for her/his advice concerning exercise.  It is important that your pet gets some healthy exercise without causing any pain or breathing problems. If your pooch is overweight or obese, you should also consult your vet as these dogs are more susceptible to joint injuries and take longer to cool off after an exercise session.

  • Age

For puppies, they like to exercise in short, frequent bursts. They tend to have a ‘mad-half-hour’ at various times of the day, going berserk, racing around and then collapsing in a heap. This, of course, burns up all your pet’s excess energy, but as he/she is young and growing constantly, too much intense activity could damage their bones and joints. Several short sessions of play and/or walks each day is best for them, with naps in between.

For older dogs, he/she may not have the stamina to walk or exercise for very long or to take part in strenuous activities. Exercise is still important, but at a slower and less frequent level. Your vet will advise you on this.

Do you have any suggestions for exercise activities?

Well, obviously walking is an excellent way to exercise your dog, but most dogs like a change every now and again. You can, luckily, exercise your dog and give him/her a good work-out at the same time.


For dogs who love to swim, this is an excellent way to exercise with low impact on your pooch’s body. A pets’ life jacket will assist in helping him/her to stay longer in the water, if he/she enjoys this. Not all dogs like swimming though and not all know how to swim. You should bear this in mind when you’re deciding on your pet’s form of exercise. Start the swimming gradually and if he/she is reluctant, don’t force it. There are other forms of exercise for your dog.

Adventure Walks

Take your doggie with you when you go for a ramble in the countryside. They love to be outside with you and your family to sniff and explore. Make sure that you follow all trail and park guidelines, keeping your pooch on a leash where required. Be aware of the possibility of ticks – check yourself and your dog.

Obedience training

This is also an opportunity for exercising your pet. Practising basic commands provides both physical and mental stimulation and exercise. Agility training – if your dog loves learning tricks – is an excellent form of exercise.


Some dogs, as with most forms of exercise and play, love to ‘fetch’, and would do it all day; others…not so much. If your poochie does enjoy this, you can vary the routine by obtaining different types of objects to throw, for example, frizbees, balls and doggie toys.

Should I create an exercise programme for my doggie?

Absolutely, with the advice of your vet. It is very important for your dog, and you, to exercise regularly. Try to make some time each day to involve your dog in physical activities which will benefit both of you and increase bonding between you are your furry friend. The best programme is a steady one with gradual conditioning. Always consult your vet before implementing any exercise regimen with your dog.  


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