Is my dog getting too much exercise?
There’s a simple way to know if your dog is getting too much exercise. If your dog has sore paw pads, is experiencing muscle or joint pain, or is suffering from heat exhaustion, this could be a sign that they are being over-exercised. The best way that your dog can tell you that they are struggling is through behavioural changes.
You know your dog better than anyone – their moods, their tempers, and their little quirks. If you notice a change in your dog’s behaviour, or some other sign that they are feeling under the weather, this could be a cause for concern.
It’s advisable to keep track of how frequently and how vigorously you are exercising your dog. This is especially true if you are starting a new fitness regime with them or changing your old routine.
Have you noticed any changes from your dog’s normal behaviour or preferences? For instance, did they previously enjoy running with you, but now they whine and refuse to go? This could be a sign of being over-exercised.
If your dog is moving differently, is limping, or is licking their legs, they could be experiencing some forms of injury. Of course, you won’t know exactly what the problem is if you’re not a trained vet, so be sure to get them checked out.
Depending on your dog’s breed, they may have special needs that mean they shouldn’t take part in certain forms of exercise. For example, a French bulldog or a pug should never be taken for a long run because their bodies aren’t built for this type of exertion.
Similarly, boxers and shih tzus are unable to regulate their body heat and it would be dangerous to put them through any form of robust exercise which would better suit a more athletic breed.
How to begin exercising a new puppy
When you first bring home a gorgeous new puppy, there’s lots of things you’ll want to be doing with them. Endless cuddling, taking hundreds of photos, and showing them off to your friends – it’s all part of the wonderful puppy experience!
But to develop healthy habits that last a lifetime, vets and animal scientists agree that it’s really important to start exercising your puppy properly and safely from a young age.
Our guide will go through the best ways to establish a safe exercise training schedule for your puppy so that you can both enjoy exercising and playing together.
Walking your puppy
It can be tempting to walk your puppy constantly when you’ve just brought them home. Whenever your bring them outside, they’re sniffing everything and they’re curious about everything they encounter.
Because puppies are obviously more independent and stronger than babies, we can forget that while they’re growing physically, they’re also growing mentally too, and they need plenty of time to relax after exercising. They are learning about the world through their senses.
This means that you should be sensitive to their needs and watch their cues while out walking. If you spot them getting tired or slowing down, or even sitting down while you’re walking, then it could be a sign that their bodies are being overworked.
It’s recommended to only walk a puppy no more than 5 minutes for each month of their age once or twice a day. If your puppy is 6 months old, you should walk them for approximately 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening, relative to their needs.
Playing with your puppy
Guess what? When you’re playing with your puppy and gambolling about with them, that counts as exercise! Puppies don’t need to just be doing pure cardiovascular exercise to get the benefits of exercising.
They can also benefit greatly from indoor playing where they potter around, climb up on furniture, jump up and kiss you, fetching, tug of war, and digging. As a new puppy owner, it won’t be long until you realise that pretty much everything they do counts as exercise.
Puppies are naturally hardwired to enjoy exercise and exertion, but depending on the lifestyle of their family, they can get a little lazy. Incorporate healthy habits into your daily life and if you have more time to spend with them at the weekend, they will be delighted to get the extra time with you.
Incorporating dog toys into exercise
As you know, it’s really important to provide your dog with plenty of mental stimulation and variation to ensure that they are mentally happy and that they won’t act out from boredom.
That’s why some carefully chosen dog toys can be a big bonus to your puppy’s physical health. Plan as far in advance as you can before getting your puppy and research the preferences of their breed. This will give you the added benefit of allowing the puppy to use their natural instincts.
For example, for scent hound dogs like beagles or basset hounds, they were originally bred to sniff out and track prey. Consider hiding treats under puppy-friendly containers to engage their core instincts and keep them amused for hours.
If you’ve got a beautiful terrier puppy, then you should create scenarios for them to chase after small toys and capture them. The best type of dog toy for them is a puzzle toy where they have to complete an action in order to be rewarded with a treat.
Listen to your puppy’s needs
Your puppy will tell you what is normal for them and what will keep them happy. If they are uninterested in an activity that their breed would normally enjoy, don’t force them into it.
This is quite important when it comes to exercise and using their bodies. Because they’re growing, they are quite sensitive to external conditions and they can easily hurt themselves without realising.
In order to develop healthy and long-lasting exercise habits, you and your puppy need to spend lots of time together exploring the world around you. Giving your pup the best chance of a healthy body is one of the best gifts you can give them, and they’ll reward you happily with kisses and affection!
Building good puppy health
In short, if your dog is getting too much exercise, it’s likely that you’ll be the first to know. If you’ve changed your routine recently, and you’ve noticed some immediate negative results in your dog, consider whether you need to consult with your vet.
However, it might be the case that you just need to cut back on your expectations with your puppy. As we’ve discussed, not all dogs want to go on lengthy runs in order to get their exercise quota for the day.
In fact, if they are not built for long distance running, it could be dangerous to push your dog into exercising when they’re not physically able. It’s not a good idea to compare your puppy to other dogs, because they’re all unique animals with individual needs.
Developing a healthy, safe, and above all fun exercise routine is something that you can develop with your new best friend. Unlike food, exercise is something that is much more difficult to quantify based on your dog’s needs.
Experts agree that the best way to accurately build a healthy exercise regime is to start off with gentle activities, building on them each day until you’re sure that it won’t cause any side effects for your puppy.
As a growing young animal, the safest way to help them develop their bodies is to engage in lots of age-appropriate play, socialise with other animals, and engage in training.
So – enjoy some of their cutest years and have fun!
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