An exercise routine that works

Published 6:57 pm Tuesday, May 28, 2019


K9 Corner

All creatures need at least some exercise. I qualify that statement when I think about the sloth, very slow moving, but it does move and also some sea creatures that barely move. However, all dogs need some sort of regular exercise.

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Now puppies and senior dogs need less aggressive exercise than pets in their prime, but some breeds are more active as pups and the seniors of those breeds keep on rocking way up into their teens.

Briefly, pups will usually play with the other pups, romping around and play-fighting until they are exhausted, then they collapse in a heap and sleep — only to wake and repeat their activity.

Adolescent dogs are ready for more structured exercise. I have mentioned agility in many of my columns, and this is an excellent form of exercise which can turn into an owner/dog competitive activity with ribbons, trophies and socialization.

But, there are less strenuous activities for the owner/handler that gives the dog lots of exercise, like fly-ball and scent hurdle racing, both of which are team activities and lots of fun for the overactive dog.

Yes, there are such animals that are overactive, from an owner’s point of view. Many terriers fit in that category. A warning to those looking for a pet for the family: if a terrier does not get lots of planned exercise, they will invent some activity to occupy their time and energy. The same goes for the northern sled dog breeds and many of the herding and working breeds. Dogs with a high drive need handlers to act as its common sense, enforce breaks in the activity and to check for injuries after a slip-up.

In my experience, a household with two or more dogs usually has no problem with exercise as long as the fenced-in space is large enough. With compatible dogs, the pack will usually go outside, check the new scents in the area, (rabbits and other wildlife leave their scents), and start a game of tag, chasing each other around the area. In the case of a small pack, one dog will be “it” and the others chase, but what is interesting is the various dogs will change off being “it,” so one dog doesn’t get exhausted setting the pace.

Many of the articles I have read recently about the need for exercise for senior dogs encourage owner/handlers to play “fetch” each morning and evening with their pet. However, one article in the December 2018 issue of “Dog Watch” published by the Canine Health Center at Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine and written by the staff notes that the proper amount of exercise depends on, “the age, health status, conditioning status, nutrition, and environment of the [individual] dog.” (The writer also recommends an evaluation of the handler’s health and ability as well.)

Let your veterinarian be your partner in rebuilding muscle tone with good nutrition that is high in quality protein. A canine physical therapist will help with appropriate exercises.