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    How to exercise your dog?

    Articledog health and wellbeingWednesday 28 March 2012
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    Does your dog have destructive behaviours like digging, or psychological issues like biting, or other behavioural issues? 
     
    To prevent these problems is to give your dog plenty of exercise and activity. Your animal also demands quality attention from you.
    Exercise is really important for dogs and providing your dog some kind of access to a suitable place where it can exercise at least once a day like a place to explore, play and meet other dogs could be even more appropriate.
     
    Problems That Result from Lack of Exercise and Play
    Dogs can be like young children. If you don’t give them something constructive to do with their energy, they’ll find something to do on their own-and you may not like it! Some of the most common behaviour problems seen in dogs who don’t get enough exercise and play are:
    • Destructive chewing, digging or scratching
    • Investigative behaviours, like garbage raiding
    • Hyperactivity, excitability and night-time activity
    • Unruliness, knocking over furniture and jumping up on people
    • Excessive predatory and social play
    • Play biting and rough play
    • Attention-getting behaviours like barking and whining
    Benefits of Exercise and Play
     The good news is that keeping your dog healthy, happy and out of trouble with daily exercise is a lot of fun and provides many benefits, including:
    • Helps to reduce or eliminate the common behavior problems listed above, such as digging, excessive barking, chewing and hyperactivity
    • Helps to keep dogs healthy, agile and limber
    • Helps to reduce digestive problems and constipation
    • Helps timid or fearful dogs build confidence and trust
    • Helps dogs feel sleepy, rather than restless, at bedtime or when you’re relaxing
    • Helps to keep dogs’ weight under control
     
    Before You Start Your Dog’s Exercise Program
    Check with your dog’s veterinarian before starting an exercise program. He or she can check your dog for any health issues that may be aggravated by exercise and suggest safe activities. Some size, breed and age considerations are:
    • Breeds that are prone to bloat that is, deep-chested, narrow-bodied breeds, such as German shepherd dogs, Doberman pinschers and Great Danes should not be exercised right after meals.
    • Small or short-legged dogs usually don’t need as much walking as larger dogs.
    • Breeds with short or flat noses (brachycephalic breeds) can have trouble breathing when exercised vigorously.
    • Sustained jogging or running is not recommended for young dogs whose bones haven’t finished growing. Because large dogs are more prone to cruciate ligament injuries, arthritis and hip dysplasia, sustained jogging can be hard on their joints and bones, too.
    • Sight hounds, like greyhounds and whippets, are built for short-distance sprinting, not long-distance runs.
     
     
    You have several options to exercise properly your dog:
    Hire someone who has the time
    Enrol your dog in doggie day care, or hire a professional dog walker. This great socialization opportunity can also benefit dogs that experience separation anxiety.
    Involve the whole family
    Divide exercise duties among all household members to avoid putting all the responsibility on one person. This decreases the chances of burnout and of the dog not getting exercised. Have each person do what's best for them. For example, younger kids might be better off playing games safely in the backyard than taking walks.
    Do double walking duty 
    Team up with a neighbour who owns a dog so you can trade off exercise days, with one of you walking both dogs at the same time. The dogs get at least one walk each day, but you and your neighbour only have to go out every other day.
    Add a task-based fitness routine
    If you live in a rural area, walk to the mailbox instead of driving, and take your dog along. Cut back on one TV show or other non-essential commitment a week, and take up hiking instead. Walk your dog nearby during the kids' sports practice.
    Be creative
    Play games in the house or in your backyard, even if they're short. Some experts suggest throwing toys for your dog to chase up and down the stairs, across the basement, or down a long hall during the winter months. For some dogs this can be a great tension reliever, she says.
    Others also suggest that you have your dog sit at regular intervals when you're on a walk. This works its abdominal muscles and also focuses on obedience.
    Regular activity helps build strong bones, improve cardiovascular health, and increase a dog's life span. A little creativity on your part can go a long way toward making exercise a regular part of your dog's (and your) day.
     
    Whether your dog is young or old, it's never too late to start him on a dog exercise plan. Dogs benefit from running, walking, and fitness routines that help them to burn calories and tone their muscles. A regular exercise plan will also help your dog avoid behavioural problems, which can arise from pent-up energy.
     
    Warm-up to Walking
    Prepare your dog for any form of physical activity with a warm-up ritual. Before each round of exercise, begin with a slow walk to loosen up your dog's muscles. Take him for a romp around the yard before setting out on an extended walk.
    If you are just beginning your walking routine, start with short walks and then gradually increase the length of the journeys little by little. Take your dog for a walk down the block or a short path, and then every few days add a new segment onto his route.
    Be consistent. Dogs are creatures of habit and love to get into established routines. Give your dog exercise on a daily basis. This way, he will look forward to spending this alone time with you.
    As you extend the length of your walking trips, he will also build up more resilience and stamina. For a dog on a weight loss program, this increase in activity is especially important. Routine exercise will help an over-weight dog shed pounds and keep his heart healthy.
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