Regular exercise is important for any dog. It helps keep them in shape, prevents obesity and is really important for their mental health. Dogs love to sniff and explore so make sure your dog has plenty of opportunity to do just that! Exercise is even more important if your dog is on a diet and needs to lose a few kilograms.
Exercise is also essential to having a happy dog. It keeps them fit and healthy, physically and mentally. Getting out and about keeps your dog’s brain active is a great stress relief for them. Not getting enough exercise can cause health problems, like obesity, but can also lead to behavioural problems. Bored dogs are unhappy dogs - they can show their frustration by chewing and being destructive, barking a lot or going to the toilet in the house. If your dog has any of these problems, giving them more exercise might help them cope better, but if you’re worried about their behaviour, speak to your vet or a professional behaviourist for more advice.
As long as you’re both dressed for it, most dogs are happy to go out whatever the weather. Rain and even snow aren’t usually a problem (for your dog, anyway!) In really hot weather, go out early in the morning, or later on in the evening, if you can so your dog doesn’t get overheated. Dogs love a daily walk routine, walks should not just be something you do at weekends. If you can’t walk them yourself for some reason, ask a friend, or maybe a professional dog-walker, so your dog doesn’t miss out on a session.
Young dogs can usually go further and faster than older ones
Dogs with short legs, generally, don’t need to walk as far as those with long legs
Jogging isn’t good for puppies as it can damage their joints
Some dogs will need restricted exercise. For example, dogs with arthritic joints usually need frequent short walks rather than one long one
Walking your dog: top tips
If you throw a ball, make sure it’s not small enough for your dog to swallow.
Walks and games are much better treats for dogs than food treats.
Exercise at your dog’s own pace. If your dog isn’t getting tired, or is still full of energy when you get home, they may need more exercise.
Be careful not to overdo it. If your dog is struggling, gets home worn out, or refuses to go at all, you may need to cut back!
Try to vary your route to keep your walks interesting and exciting for your dog.
Always allow your dog to have a good sniff around. This is really important for their mental health.
Keep dogs on a lead when exercising in built-up areas. Only let them off the lead when you are absolutely sure it is safe. It is also important not to let your dog loose where there are sheep or other livestock.
Other ways to exercise your dog, when you cannot get out.
Make them work for their food. Using interactive feeding toys is a great way to help your dog burn some extra calories to get their meal. Your dog has to solve a puzzle or move the toy around to get the food out so these toys are also great mental stimulation for your dog too. If you don’t want to buy toys you can use household items like empty egg boxes or milk cartons to hide the food in and make small holes so the food is gradually dispensed as your dog uses their tongue or paws to move it. Make sure all toys are safe to play with and always watch your dog during play time.
For more mobile dogs you can use a plastic hula hoop held upright, just off the ground and get your dog to walk through it. Give them lots of praise once they jump through and gradually increase the height off the floor to get them jumping higher and burning those calories.