Exercising Your Dog

Most dogs do not get enough exercise. Dogs were bred for a specific working purpose and have a level of drive and stamina to meet that need. It is common to find hounds, shepherds and other working dogs kept as pets today. There are a few breeds that were bred to be quiet companions for the home (like the Shih Tzu).

Your dog’s exact required daily amount and intensity of exercise is hard to define. When placed in a fenced yard alone to potty and exercise, most dogs don’t get adequate exercise. Generally speaking 30-60 minutes of moderate to intense activity most days of the week is sufficient. To gain a better understanding of your dog’s exercise requirements, review their breed history and learn about what they were bred to do. Hounds that were bred to run great distances in pursuit of game will not find a moderately paced walk around the neighborhood a couple of times a day sufficient. These dogs need moderately long sessions of running (once conditioned).

In addition to physical exercise, our dogs need daily mental stimulation. The typical life of a house pet is quite boring. It is common to meet owners of intelligent herding dogs that are destructive and hyper from a boring, sedentary life. Dogs that are bored find ways to entertain themselves, usually in ways we don’t appreciate. By feeding your dog from food puzzles, giving them a rotating assortment of toys, treat dispensers, doing short training sessions daily, and creating games for your dog (hide and seek, tug-of-war, etc.) you can easily keep your dog entertained.

There are many signs that your dog is under-worked and bored. Common symptoms are chewing inappropriately (sofa, carpet, etc.), digging, excessive barking, pacing and “neurotic” behaviors. Keep in mind, though a true condition, separation anxiety is mistakenly blamed for a lot of destructive behaviors. Usually, this destruction in your absence is simply the dog partaking in great fun while you’re away.

Be aware of your own limitations in meeting your dog’s needs. If you are physically unable to run your dog, take him to doggie daycare or the dog park a few times a week. Try to find other sociable dogs and arrange for play dates. Some dogs really do best with another dog to keep them company. Consider your finances and ability to care for another dog before expanding your furry family. Please check with local shelters and rescue groups to find a great playmate for your pet.