Exercise gets oxygen to cells, keeps muscles toned and joints flexible, strengthens respiratory and circulatory systems, and aids in digestion.
Exercising with your dog is a great way to give her the attention she craves. A dog who is receiving enough attention is less likely to seek treats.
Follow these guidelines for a successful exercise plan.
- One long walk a day, lasting 20 to 60 minutes, should keep your adult dog svelte and healthy. A dog who has access to a run or a yard should still be walked daily (on a leash).
- Build up your dog's stamina gradually. Start with little strolls -- around the block or to the corner and back -- and slowly increase the length of the trip.
- Give your dog as much walking time as you can spare -- this is an exercise whose benefit is shared. Both you and your dog can stay sleek by walking briskly.
- If your dog begins panting heavily, stop and let him rest. Overexertion can lead to heat stroke.
- Do not let puppies and young dogs overdo it. Their bones are too soft and spongy to withstand the impact. Depending on the breed, pups under 18 to 24 months should not participate in the jumps of formal agility training or hop in and out of pickup trucks. It is too stressful to their bones, muscles, and ligaments.
- When puppies play with other puppies, they tend to tire out at the same time. Playing with an older dog may cause a puppy to play past her limit and exhaust herself, making her more prone to injury. Supervise and limit puppy and adult dog frolicking.
- If your dog suffers from a disease that limits his range of motion, it is just as vital to provide adequate exercise time at the dog's pace. Conditions like hip dysplasia and arthritis benefit from regular exercise, and activity helps your pet maintain his ideal weight.
- Two dogs in a yard will help each other stay in shape by romping and playing together. A lone dog is more likely to lie around.
- Active dogs are less likely to eat to relieve boredom or stress.
Continued on page 5: Good Habits