Outdoor Fun with Your Dog, by Dr. Peel
Interested in some fun outdoor plans for you and your dog for the weekend? Here are some tips from Dr. Peel.
Exercise is very important for the health and well being of all dogs. Some dogs need activities that are both very physically demanding as well as mentally challenging. Others may be couch potatoes but equally need and require regular exercise as well. As an owner of five dogs ranging in activity level, age, and size (from 65lbs to 5lbs), I must ensure they all have regular exercise to keep them healthy as well as mentally and physically stimulated.
A well-stimulated and exercised dog is much less likely to get into trouble with behavioral issues such as chewing on furniture, digging in the yard, or escaping your yard. In addition, the lack of appropriate exercise is a major contributor to the pet obesity trend and the serious devastating diseases that accompany overweight pets. Furthermore, regular exercise strengthens the body organs such as the muscles, lungs, heart, and joints which not only help prevent injuries, but also improve the overall wellbeing and potentially life expectancy of your best friend as well.
Here are a few exercises and activities I routinely enjoy with my dogs.
Walking is a great exercise for both you and your dog and really helps to strengthen the bond between the both of you. I often walk all of my dogs at one time (yes, from the 5lb yorkie to the 65lb boxer mix) without any issues. However, it is important all dogs are trained to walk well on a leash alone with you before you walk several dogs at one time. Make sure you always use a leash unless you’re in a safe, fenced-in area.
If you’re a hiker, consider getting a lightweight nylon backpack for your larger dog. Ziggy, my 65lb boxer mix has his own backpack to carry his and my food/water for the hike. If you have a small dog, you may want to consider carrying her in a small special bag if she gets too tired during the hike as I do with my small pups.
Running or Jogging
Dogs can be amazing running partners although it is important you are both in similar athletic condition. Otherwise, mismatches can be exhausting for both of you. Also be sure you have a dog whose type and temperament make him suitable as a running partner. Ziggy (boxer mix) and Lola (sharpie mix) are my two running partners and we always enjoy a good run together. However, Yoshi (my cockapoo) doesn’t quite enjoy running for long periods of time and he would quickly tire out.
It is also important you consult a veterinarian before your dog starts running as different health conditions can be contraindicated for a strenuous activity such as running (heart disease, arthritis, young/old age, etc).
Swimming is another great exercise for dogs. This is an activity that is low-impact so it doesn’t stress the joints of older or arthritic dogs. Swimming also works many different muscles at the same time. Not all dogs are natural swimmers so may do best in shallow waters. It is okay for dogs to swim in chlorinated pools as long as they are bathed afterwards to remove the chlorine from their fur/hair just as you would do after swimming. Swimming in lakes and rivers can also be an enjoyable activity. Make sure your best friend is always supervised while swimming.
Also remember certain diseases can be contracted by swimming in these water sources (parasites, bacterial infections, etc). This is one reason why a leptospirosis vaccination as well as regular fecal tests are highly recommended to protect your best friend.
Some dogs may also enjoy swimming in the ocean, but this is only advised for strong swimmers. The ocean carries itself certain risks such as strong currents and salt water. It can be life threatening and even fatal for dogs to drink excessive amounts of salt water so make sure you prevent your dog from drinking ocean water.
I advise all dogs to wear a life jacket while swimming (even strong swimmers). Ziggy loves to swim and is an excellent swimmer. However, he often enjoys swimming so much he becomes exhausted and thus he has his own life jacket to keep him safe when he is tired and in deeper waters.
Many dogs have a lot fun and enjoy a simple game of fetch. Fetch is an activity that gives your dog needed exercise, strengthens the bond between the both of you, and promotes the habit of him returning to you. You can always switch the objects of fetch from balls, frisbees, stuffies, or whatever your dog’s favorite toy is. Fetch can be played outside or even indoors on a rainy or snowy day if you have the space that allows for it.