Dogs and their needs, am I right?
When it comes to exercising dogs there are so many right answers, and that is the problem!
Every dog is different, and this has to do with several factors: breed temperaments, environment, personality, companions, the list goes on. Tailoring a dog’s physical activity schedule is a trying task, especially if you have several dogs of the same breed, different breeds, or just one mixed breed dog!
Because of how different all dogs are, there is no cut and dry method to making sure they get the right amount and kind of exercise. This is something that you and your dog will have to figure out together! Let’s start with puppies!
Puppies almost always have an abundance of energy. Finding the right exercise for your puppy is important not only for the health of your dog, but for your own sanity! Having a rambunctious puppy around the house can be incredibly hard on the patience of even the most patient owners. Tiring out a puppy mentally is just as important as tiring them out physically. Often a puppy can run and run and run without a second thought, but they will do better with mental stimulation. They can wear out their body but if they’re physically worn out and not mentally, this can result in restlessness or “unrestful resting.” In some cases this can lead to nail chewing, licking paws, wandering, destruction of property, and other behavioural issues. Making sure to try more than just walking or running your dog is a very helpful tool to prevent these behaviours! Teaching a puppy to fetch is a wonderful place to start. Depending on the breed, you may want to introduce them to tracking, obedience or agility. Puppy classes are highly recommended, as well as “doggy daycare”, as this will give your puppy a chance to get used to other dogs besides their litter mates, and puppy classes will give you a chance to connect with your puppy in ways you may not be able to without coaching!
Big dog exercise vs small dog exercise: Small dogs require different kinds of exercise than big dogs, but again, this is often dictated by breed. Some small dogs, like certain terriers, love a fetch game, whereas breeds like Maltese and Lhasa Apso may prefer a walk over rough running. Bigger dogs can also have preferences. For instance, Greyhounds like light walks or fast sprints, not jogging. Giant breeds like Danes, Newfoundland dogs, and St. Bernards may prefer walks, and then something lower impact like swimming, to running, as it can be hard on their joints.
How much exercise is too much exercise? I know there are tons of dogs out there that would chase a ball until they collapsed! The best thing to do for an over-active dog is make sure the exercises they enjoy are both mentally and physically stimulating. For instance, if you can’t get your dog into something like tracking or agility, you can spice up your fetching! Try not throwing the ball until they have completed a trick! They can learn tricks this way as well, and the ball is a very good source of positive reinforcement. Eventually your pup may learn that they have to sit or shake to have the ball thrown, and that is when you can add in a second trick - you see where I’m going with this? Making your pup think it through every time they want the ball makes them as mentally tired as physically. Now to actually answer that question! It may be hard to notice if your pup is tired, but here are some of the signs you may not notice as being signals for tiredness:
- Rolling around instead of engaging.
-Panting +/- looking for water
- Unusual barking
- Losing interest
- Being “sooky” or cuddling up to you
- Getting nippy
- Being cranky
Young dogs in their “teenage years” are more at risk of over-tiring themselves, and you may have to help them learn their limits. Make sure that their exercise is plentiful, but try to realize when any of these signs are present, and make them take a break.
Making sure that dogs use their inside time as a restful time is important in helping them understand that outside time is play time and inside time is re-coup time. If you can learn to crate your pup inside, it can help make their rest time… well… restful. Teaching a dog that after playtime it is rest time is one of the best ways to make a crate a happy place. Now, I obviously don’t mean that your pup should be crated all the time when they’re inside, but what I do mean is that, if your pup has a tendency to stay wound up even after an eventful playtime, putting them in a kennel to wind down can be so helpful for their recovery! Having some fresh water and a snack in their kennel can be a great treat for them after a good run or game of fetch.
All in all I guess what I’m saying is each dog is different, and you will have to work with your pup to find out what works best with you both. I hope this sheds some light on any questions you might have had in regards to dogs and their activity!