Exercise in Dogs: How Much is Enough?
How to Give Your Small Dog Enough Exercise
It goes without saying that large dogs usually need a lot of physical activity. But it's important to remember that small dogs need to stay active too. Without enough exercise, small dogs are likely to develop obesity and related health problems. Fortunately, it's easy to get enough exercise for your small dog, as long as you work with the vet, consider the breed, and monitor your dog's activity level. Offer your dog a variety of physical activities and make exercise a part of your daily routine. Remember that even simple actions, like running up and down the stairs, count as exercise for your small dog.
Determining How Much Exercise Your Dog Needs
Consider your dog's breed.Research your dog's breed for specific exercise requirements and talk with the vet for specific recommendations. It's important for your small dog to get exercise, especially to reduce the risk of obesity and joint problems. You'll also need to tailor the types of exercise to your dog's breed.
- For example, small terriers and toy breeds will thrive with a few 15 minute walks a day along with active games inside or outside the house. Small terriers will enjoy tag and hide-and-go-seek while toy breeds will want to play fetch.
- Some terriers with higher energy and prey drive may need even more exercise to keep them content. Bored dogs that don't get enough exercise may develop bad behaviors like chewing, destroying things and anxiety.
Take your dog's age into account.While you can get breed-specific exercise requirements, you'll also need to consider your dog's age and activity level. Work closely with your dog's veterinarian to determine the right amount of exercise based on your dog's age.
- For example, puppies will require more exercise than a senior dog with health conditions regardless of breed.
- Also consider any chronic conditions your dog has like arthritis, luxated patellas, or diabetes that may affect how much exercise they can tolerate. If you are unsure, consult with your vet on how and what kind of exercise is best for your dog.
Respond to your dog's cues for more exercise.Watch your small dog for signs that it needs more exercise. If it needs more activity, your dog may become aggressive or bark because it's bored. For example, your dog might begin tearing up the furniture or barking at every person it sees if it doesn't get enough physical activity. Other signs your dog needs more exercise include:
- Running through the house
- Playing rough (nipping or biting)
- Digging, scratching, or chewing on household things
- Whining for attention
Getting Daily Exercise For Your Dog
Take your small dog to the dog park.Dog parks are a great way to let your dog off the leash so it can explore and stretch its legs. Before you go to the dog park, ensure that your dog responds to basic commands so you can call it back to you, if needed. Keep an eye on your small dog since there may be larger or more aggressive dogs at the park.
- Check the dog parks to see if they have a small dog section or offer small dog play times.
- Be careful letting a small dog play with large dogs since any aggression on their part could be deadly. Either avoid letting your dog play with larger dogs or be careful to talk to owners about their dogs and if they have any aggression problems.
Try a variety of exercises.You can easily play tug-of-war or fetch, go for walks, or take it swimming. If you play fetch, ensure that the ball is large enough that your small dog won't choke on it when it's retrieving the ball. If you take your dog out for exercise, your dog should be responsive to commands or you may need to train it. Doing different physical activities will help you learn what your dog enjoys to do, making it easier to get the exercise it needs.
- Although your small dog can easily walk or jog, it won't be able to exercise as long as a larger breed would.
Exercise with your small dog.Make your dog's exercise part of your daily routine and so you both form healthy habits. Just ensure that you tailor your routine to fit your dog's needs. For example, if you're training for a half-marathon, it's fine to jog your dog, but it probably won't be able to keep up with you for an extended period of time.
- If you have a pug, Boston terrier, or any flat-faced breed, you should limit your runs to under two miles. This is because some flat-faced dogs may struggle to breathe while running. These dogs may struggle even more in hot or humid weather, so always pay close attention to your dog and if it seems winded be prepared to carry it home.
Keep the dog active around the house.It's not always possible to take your small dog outside for exercise, especially if it's too hot or cold out. However, your dog will still need to exercise. Play simple indoor games like making it jump, offering exercise balls, and giving mental games like food puzzle toys.
- Watch your dog when you let it into the yard. If it's only pacing or sniffing around, it's probably not getting enough exercise. Go outside with your small dog and chase it around, help it run laps, and get it moving.
Try a new activity with your dog.If you or your small dog are getting tired of the same walk or run around the neighborhood, explore a new environment. Put your dog on the leash and take it to a new part of town. Let the dog lead you so it can check out anything it's interested in.
- You could take your small dog on a gentle hike through the forest. Let the dog sniff and examine things along the trail.
- Take your dog along with you when you do contained activities like canoeing or kayaking.
Create physical and mental challenges for your dog.Remember that small dogs can get exercise from simple activities that we often overlook. Have your dog run up and down the stairs with you for an easy work out. You could also create a climbing obstacle course by stacking cushions, pillows, and chairs for your dog to scramble on.
- You could also hide doggie treats around the house for your dog. This will motivate it to run around and explore its environment.
Consider hiring a dog walker or doggie daycare.If you are just too busy to be able to regularly exercise your dog, or if your dog needs more exercise than you are physically able to give it think about finding a dog walker or enrolling your dog in a doggie daycare, so it can get the exercise it needs to stay healthy and avoid behavior problems.
- Talk to prospective dog walkers or daycares to see what kind of activities your dog will be doing and make sure they know about any health conditions your dog may have as it relates to their exercise needs. Read any reviews that are available as well.
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