Exercising Dogs of Every Age

Photo: Richard Earl

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!

Puppies
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.

Adult Dogs
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.

Senior Dogs
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. 

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Published on by Beatrix Chan.

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