Our best friends were built to romp and play, but when is exercise too much or too little? We have some guidelines below for exercising dogs in each of the three major age categories (puppies, adult dogs, and senior dogs), so you can keep your dog fit, healthy, and happy!
While it may seem like puppies have an endless amount of energy, these little guys can actually be over-exercised pretty easily. The two most important rules to follow when exercising your puppy is awareness and consistency. Pay close attention to your pup when going for a walk—if he sits down and needs a break, let him take a break, and if he starts to take breaks more frequently, this means it's time to go home. When playing outside, make sure you keep him well hydrated as puppies can easily overheat, so give him frequent water breaks to prevent potential heat strokes. The second rule, consistency, is of utmost importance as well. By making sure your pup gets daily exercise, you can ensure that his joints and muscles develop strength gradually over time. If you only take the pup out for long periods of play during the weekends, he won't be able to develop the necessary strength in his joints and muscles, and will become prone to injuries.
Appropriate exercise levels for adult dogs varies predominately on the breed of your dog. If your pooch is of working, shepherding, or hunting breeds (such as huskies, Australian shepherds, greyhounds, and all the mixes in between), she'll be ready to run, swim and frolic all day in the sun with you. However, if you have a smaller, stouter dog with shorter nasal bones and a more compressed face, such as Boston terriers and English or French bulldogs, make sure you don't engage her in any overly aggressive aerobic exercise as these breeds are more susceptible to overheating and heat strokes.
In their golden years, our older pooches deserve the most love as well as the most attention to their well-being. Our all-time favorite exercise for senior dogs is swimming. When one of my dogs got older, she would very reluctantly take a walk even just down the street, but if we went to the lake, she would literally swim for an hour straight. This non-weight bearing form of exercise gives your dog's joints and bones some relief while allowing her to stretch and utilize her muscles. The most important rule with exercising your senior dog is to not push her—she's made it this far and knows her bodily limits very well, so if she wants to stop or take a break, respect her wishes.
Spring is just around the corner, which means it's time to brush ourselves off and step out into the sunshine for some outdoor adventures! Before you head out on these hikes with your pup, be sure to trim his nails because unkempt, long nails can easily break, causing your dog great discomfort. Take a moment to go through our tips for trimming your dog's nails and make sure they're fully clipped and groomed before heading outdoors!
Touch My Feet
Get your dog used to having her feet touched in with this process. A couple of days before you clip her nails for the first time, start touching and handling her feet more frequently, helping her associate with it positively by rewarding her with treats each time after you touch her feet. After your pooch is used to having her feet touched, start touching her feet with the trimmers so the relatively foreign object can be normalized for her.
Go Very, Very Slowly
The first time you cut your dog's nails, you want to go through the process as slowly as possible to keep your dog from being alarmed. The best practice for this first trim is to clip one or two of your pup's nails, give her a treat, play with her for a little bit, and then let her go about her business. After a couple of hours has passed, come back and trim a couple more nails.
How Much Nail to Trim
If your pup has clear nails, trimming his nails is going to be much easier. The key is to steer clear of the live quick, which is pink if your dog has clear nails. Cut the nail no closer than 3 millimeters from the quick. Trimming nails is going to be a little harder if your dog has dark nails—you'll need to trim thin slivers off the nail until you start to see a tiny gray or pink oval appear. This oval is the quick, so once you see a tiny bit of it, stop trimming.
Feel like you're being dragged along on your walks with the new pup? Train your dog to walk like a well-mannered pooch with our tips on introducing your pup to walk on a leash.
Use a Harness
As soon as you introduce a leash, your puppy will get the instinct to pull because of the constriction. It's a good idea to start her off walking in a harness as it will be more ergonomic for your pup until she learns to walk without tugging. Have your puppy wear the harness around the house as often as possible so she can get used to the feel of it—she'll try to shake and scratch it off at first, but the quicker she can get comfortable in the harness, the faster she'll feel natural walking in it.
Begin your leash walking training in your house by leading her on mini walks indoors. Use a smaller leash and make sure that the leash is loose at all times. As soon as she starts to tug, stop walking immediately and call your pup back by your side, then continue walking after she's come back to you. By guiding her through these mini walks and correcting her along the way, she'll learn that she's expected to walk by your side the entire time.
Stick with One Side
To minimize confusion, train your dog to walk on one side of you. As a personal preference, I prefer walking my dog on the right hand side (I'm right-handed and the right side is further away from street traffic). If your pup tries to circle around to the other side, stop walking, call her to you, and then gently guide her back to the correct side.
Be a Leader
When you start taking your dog on outdoor walks, keep in mind that you are the leader of the walk. Definitely allow your dog to go to the bathroom, but be mindful of her spending too much time sniffing around when she's first learning how to go on walks. This kind of exploration should be a reward, and after she's exhibited good walking behavior for a period of time, you can reward her by letting her sniff and explore. Be sure to be firm when you call her back to continue the walk—after all, the purpose of the walk is exercise, not to claim the streets as your puppy's personal territory.
Most of all, have patience and be diligent in training your puppy. This hard work will pay off when your dog becomes a marvelous, happy and obedient dog in years to come!
Is your dog developing a bit of a belly? Overweight dogs are more common than we think, and canine obesity introduces a series of health concerns including diabetes, heart disease, lung disorders, high blood pressure, and more. Helping your dog lose weight and get healthy isn't impossible—all it takes is dedication, patience and consistency from you. Check out our tips below for helping your pup slim down and get on his way to being a healthy, happy pooch again.
Reset Your Dog's Metabolism
Just like human diets, starting a canine diet begins with hitting the reset button. Take your pooch to the vet and have her evaluate your dog's overall health in order to suggest a specific reduced diet for your dog. A reduction in quantity and caloric intake will be a must, and figuring out exactly how much your dog should eat to get healthy again should be a personalized recommendation from your vet. In this same conversation, you should also ask your vet what types of foods your dog should focus on as well as avoid. Once you start the new dietary plan for your pup, refrain from giving him any additional treats and snacks—instead, reward him with physical affection like extended playtime, cuddles, and rubs.
Hit the Ground Running
Make sure your dog walks between a 1/4 mile (smaller dogs) to 1/2 mile (larger dogs) a day to start off. If your dog is severely overweight and has joint problems from a long period of under-activity, try starting her off with swimming. Getting your dog to swim will be great cardio and will also be gentle on her joints and muscles, preventing any injuries from developing. Exercise with your dog consistently every day and try to push them a little bit further each day.
Make Recovery Bonding Time
Your pooch is going to be sore after exercising, so try your hand at massaging his legs and back, and in general, giving him an extra bit of love as encouragement. This positive reinforcement will not only speed up his body's recovery time, it will also help you bond with him and give him the support he needs through this process of becoming healthy again.
Does your dog have an amazing smile? Snap a pic of his megawatt grin and post it by March 10, 2014 for a chance to win a Finding Rover t-shirt and be featured as our Facebook cover photo of the week! The smiling pooch with the most likes wins, so get your friends to like your pup's photo! Post your pooch's photo on our Facebook page, Instagram, or in the Finding Rover app for a chance to win!