Exercise for Dogs

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 18,865
    Dr. Candy Olson demonstrates how to exercise dogs.

    Candy Olson

    Dr. Candy Olson graduated from veterinary school in 1978, and has been working as a small animal veterinarian ever since. She started her own practice, Greenbriar Animal Hospital, in Fairfax, Virginia in 1993 with a goal to providing a very personal level of service, like an old fashioned family doctor’s office. The hospital has grown into a busy 2 doctor practice with a full time dog and cat groomer. The practice and Dr. Olson have received several awards for top quality service to her patients and their owners, but what she enjoys the most is fine tuning the day to day care of her patients, and helping their owners cope with medical and behavioral issues that pop up in today’s lifestyles. Dr. Olson is particularly interested in the care of geriatric pets and in pets with multiple medical and/or behavioral problems. She keeps her veterinary knowledge current by reading more than 8 veterinary journals every month, and by attending more than 80 hours of continuing education meetings each year (Virginia requires 15 hours per year). She also serves as a mentor for student veterinary technicians and high school students interested in veterinary medicine. Her hobbies include gardening, travel, and photography (photography is an extended family hobby). Some of her photos and some of her family’s photos are framed and on display at the animal hospital.

    Hi, I am Dr. Candy Olson from Greenbriar Animal Hospital. We're shooting a set of videos on tips for how to take care of your dog at home. This one is information on exercise and play for your dog. Now, we don't have any things to show you here, because this is mostly a verbal thing. One of the issues here is a lot of people confuse exercise and play, especially for their young dogs. Now, we have a couple of cautions for you before we go into any of this in great detail. The first is a general caution in that these recommendations are for healthy dogs that are under six years old. If your dog is -- even if it's young, if it has a problem like arthritis or something like that, you want to talk to your veterinarian before implementing any of these exercise suggestions. They are not appropriate for older dogs, which are basically seven and up.

    The second caution is you need to be extra careful instigating any kind of exercise program for your dog, or really any increase over what you're already doing in the summer time when it's hot. Dogs only cool off by panting, they overheat very easily, particularly if they're overweight. So, any time the temperature is above 70 you have to be very careful with how much exercise your dog has, particularly if it's humid.

    One of the things that you can do if you're going out with your dog on a hot day is wet your dog down first with cool water. Take him out and spray him with the hose, do it before you go, and that evaporating water will help keep him cool. It doesn't do much good to do it after you get back. One of the ways to tell that your dog is over doing a little bit in the hot weather is if you're out on a walk, you're jogging, you're running with them or whatever, and you get back, and he is sitting there panting for 20, 30, 40, 50 minutes, he got too hot. Try doing it earlier or later in the day, different kind of exercise, see if there is anywhere where you can take him swimming, that's great exercise. The thing with dogs is they tend to run around like crazy when they're playing sometimes, but the definition of exercise for a dog is he is running because you're making him. He is not doing it on his own, he is not running around the yard, he is not playing with the other dogs, that's play. Exercise is work, real difference there. Most dogs in our society don't get enough exercise. Typically dogs under six years old should be running, because they have to, because you make them, minimum of 30 minutes a day, 60 minutes is better. Now, that's a lot of time. It doesn't count if you're taking the dog for a walk, that's not exercise for a young dog, that's a walk, it's entertainment, it's fun, but unless you've got a really tiny dog and you walk really fast, so you're walking fast and the dog is running, that doesn't count. Exercise with your dog means he is running because you make him. The way that works, there are a lot of things that you can do. You can jog with your dog. Most people aren't really into that, but you can. You can put on some rollerblades. Hey, that's easy, he runs, it's not hard for you. You can use one of those little rocket scooters or a skateboard. I don't recommend a bicycle, there are a lot of accidents that can happen with dogs and bicycles, but something with small wheels, low to the ground, little easy to control, that works really well. You can, if your dog is the kind who will chase a ball or a Frisbee, you can throw for him and have him run. Hey, that's great, you don't have to do anything at all. Worst comes to worst, is you have time constraints or physical constraints and you can't do this kind of stuff, see if you can get your dog to do the Frisbee or the ball chasing, where you can stand there and do stuff for him. See if there are any teenagers or kids in your area that would be willing to come and do some of the stuff with your dog. They probably love the opportunity to go out on a rocket scooter or put their rollerblades on, and go around the block a few dozen times, for a couple of bucks. It's an important thing for your dog to get the right amount of physical exercise. It can make a huge difference on how happy they are, on how destructive or difficult they are to manage on a day-to-day basis, and it can make a huge difference on how well they learn.

    Think of it a little bit as a kid who is on a sugar high and they're not paying any attention to anybody, and they're just bouncing off the walls, that's what your dogs going to be like if it's not getting enough exercise. In this society it's kind of tough sometimes to do that, so work on it. The other thing that's important with exercise and dogs is it's not just the physical exercise, there's mental exercise as well. If you've got a smart dog, one who learns quickly, tends to get herself in trouble maybe, she is finding things to do, maybe ripping stuff up, finding out how to open the closet door, getting into here, getting into there, she doesn't have enough mental entertainment. She needs things to keep her occupied, to keep her mind occupied. So, that's the ideal kind of dog to teach her things, teach her tricks, teach her anything. It can even be kind of useless stuff, beg, fetch the newspaper, whatever, but teaching her things, that learning process will help keep her mind occupied, and you will have a much more comfortable companion.

    The other thing that you can do for those kind of dogs particularly is get them toys that occupy their time and occupy their mind. They have like hard rubber toys for dogs that you can stuff a bone inside, for example, and they have to work and work and work to get the bone out. Then like a little biscuit kind of thing. There are all kinds of different versions of that, they come in big and little and round and long, and those kind of things are excellent.

    There is also what we call a treat ball, where you put a bunch of treats in the inside, and there are various size holes, and they have to roll and roll and roll this ball, and all of a sudden the little treat will fall out of the hole. Those kind of things are excellent for dogs for entertainment purposes, but it's very important to differentiate between exercise and play, because dogs will play as much as they need to, but they have to be made to exercise, that's the big difference. So, those are some major tips on exercising your dog, difference between exercise and play. Next, we're going to cover some information on some feeding tips for your dog.