Mar 8, 2010

What’s The Right Amount of Regular Exercise for My Dog?

Posted by Bob under from the vet, Pain in Pets

The following blog post is from Sandy Gregory, an exercise physiologist at Scout’s House, a provider of products for disabled and special needs pets. Sandy graciously offered her time to write a special blog post for us.



Photos courtesy of Scout’s House

What’s The Right Amount of Regular Exercise for My Dog?
by Sandy Gregory, M Ed, RVT, CCRA
Exercise Physiologist at Scout’s House

Whether you and your dog are training for something competitive or  are just having fun, there are several factors to consider before starting a new exercise program:

1)  Get Your Vet’s Ok—Talk to your veterinarian to make sure your dog is healthy enough to exercise. 
2)  Start Easy—Don’t go full force into a workout program.  Consider the activity level and age of your dog first.  If he’s a puppy, he shouldn’t get more than 15 minutes of exercise at a time, 3 times a day.  And never exercise a puppy on hard surfaces as that can damage growing bones and joints.  Likewise, if your dog is older or doesn’t move easily, if he’s overweight, or if he has a short nose or short legs, he won’t have much endurance to start. 
3)  Slow and Steady—For the first 5 minutes, go at a slow pace to increase the temperature of the muscles being used and to help reduce the risk of strains and tears.  Gradually add a few minutes at a faster pace.  You might want to start with 5 minutes at a slow pace, then add 3 minutes walking quickly, followed by 5 more minutes of cool down at your original, slower pace.  Do this workout 3-5 days the first week. 
4)  Pump It Up—If your pet is doing well with this initial workout, start the next week with a 5-minute warm-up, 6 minutes of brisk walking, then another 5 minutes of easy walking.  By increasing your dog’s brisk walking time each week, you’re helping her to build endurance and strengthen her heart muscle.  A young or healthy dog can build up to 50 minutes of brisk walking quickly, but some dogs may never go beyond 5 minutes of brisk walking.  Always keep your dog’s health, age, previous activity level, breed characteristics, and weight in mind. 
5)  Rest and Recover—Make sure to give your dog some days of rest during the week.  Dogs, just like people, can be overworked and fatigued by exercising every day but not show it. 
6)  Mix It Up—To make an exercise routine more physically challenging, consider walking your dog up and down hills.  Going uphill strengthens hips and rear legs since that’s where the focus of the weight is, and going downhill builds up front limbs, including the shoulders.  You might also try walking on the beach or in tall grass, which increases the resistance and requires your pet to pick up his legs more.  

Remember, the key to a successful workout program is to slowly increase the intensity and duration so that your dog—and you—can enjoy all the health benefits of regular exercise without soreness and injury.


Add A Comment

Security Code: