K-9 Corner: Dogs need exercise, but you should do it right

Published 8:17 am Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Along the line of keeping your dog mentally, as well as physically stimulated, I pause to give a few words on preparing your dog for a change of pace. Next week I will give one or two more advanced tricks in answer to readers’ requests.

Most young, healthy dogs do not sleep all day, so they feel the urge to invent something to while away the time until the family returns home. However, jumping into an exercise program full steam ahead is asking for trouble.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, before starting an exercise regime, have the veterinarian check your dog thoroughly. Tell the doctor the type of exercise you plan for your dog: walking, running, agility, weight pulling, lure coursing, hunting, and herding, whatever you are considering the doctor needs to know. In agility there is jumping as well as speed to consider. Lure coursing requires speed and the ability to make tight turns (the dog is chasing a garbage bag attached to a line that is laid out over a field, threaded through pulleys. Some courses go up and down hill as well as making abrupt turns). Hunting requires speed, endurance and jumping ability, while herding asks the dog for speed and quick changes in direction. Of course, weight pulling demands strong bones, excellent conformation of bone structure and conditioned muscles. The dog must have a love for pulling and most of the sled dogs have this love. Other breeds need to be tested before spending the time training and conditioning the animal.

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Why do you want to spend the time keeping your dog in good condition? Among my pets, as I mentioned two weeks ago, I took one out to run as I rode a bicycle. We covered nearly eight miles in two outings most days. In the beginning she barely made it one mile, we had to rest for awhile before coming back home. By the end of the first summer, she was returning home in the evenings still dancing on her toes. When she was eight years old, she had to have major surgery. The veterinarians checked her thoroughly because they didn’t want to put her through the trauma of an operation unless she had a chance to recover. All the tests came back that she was in wonderful shape and ready for the surgery. She recovered to live and run for six additional years.

That dog could run easily but she could not jump. A sports injury to her hind leg and the toes of that foot kept her from competing for her Companion Dog Excellent title which requires jumping. Some veterinarians now specialize in canine sports medicine and that particular dog would have benefited from their expertise if it had been available at the time.

Always check your dog carefully after each practice. If the exercise is outdoors, check for burrs, fleas or ticks as well as tenderness in any movement. Call you veterinarian if you suspect a problem. Catching an injury early and treating it immediately will prevent a major problem later on.