Daily exercise is a great way to stay healthy and keep your mind active, however we all have those moments when a comfortable spot on the couch seems much more appealing than heading to the gym or putting on those sneakers and venturing outside.
For our canine companions however, exercise is a crucial part of their everyday life, so if you are struggling to find the motivation to get out and active, why not turn your canine friend into your own personal trainer.
Integrating your new puppy or dog into your exercise routine is a wonderful part of having a canine pet. Running with your dog is not only a fantastic way to keep them fit, healthy and mentally stimulated, but also an opportunity for you to work on obedience training and build that 1:1 connection with your dog. Like any activity though, there are a few things to consider, ensuring the experience is safe and enjoyable for all parties involved.
Starting your puppy off on the right foot (or paw) when it comes to exercise is critical for their physical development and protecting them from any future joint issues, however it is important to introduce exercise at a gradual rate and intensity.
The first step is to ensure your puppy is fully vaccinated and comfortable walking on a lead or harness. Begin with gradual walks in an area your puppy feels safe and secure, and gradually increase the distance as your puppy grows. High intensity exercise however should not begin until your puppy has developed strong bones, joints and muscles, for small breed puppies this can
begin from 9 months of age, medium breeds 10-11 months, large breeds 12-14 months and giant breeds 18-24 months.
When your adult dog is ready to begin their new exercise journey it is best to assess your dog’s health first to avoid any complications, whether this be a young adult or a senior.
For example, for an older dog who has spent most their time on a comfortable bed, a day of high activity could quickly turn painful. Medical problems, such as arthritis, heart disease, intervertebral disk disease, pulmonary problems (including heartworm disease), and obesity, can limit a dog’s tolerance for high activity and potentially create further health issues. Ask your veterinarian for the best way to create a healthy activity plan for your dog if any health concerns apply.
When you do go for your first outing, start out slowly and have reasonable expectations. While you might be itching to jog 5km, your dog might not be physically ready. It is important to start with small steps to safely build up your dog’s ability:
Begin with 500m increments. After you have run or jogged 500m, make sure your dog looks like they are comfortable to continue. Do this for a maximum of 3km. You can double this rule of thumb for moderate hiking. And remember, you can always increase the length of your workout if your dog completes the initial outing with flying colours.
Also monitor your dog’s heat tolerance during exercise, especially if you are working out in hot, humid areas or if your dog is a brachycephalic (short-nose) breed. Ensure your dog has plenty of access to fresh water during your work out and watch for
excessive panting, an enlarged and flattened tongue, and sluggish behaviour, all of which are signs of overheating. Plan for any longer trips and ensure your dog has plenty of rest time.
It is also important to feed your dog the right nutritional diet to help fuel their performance. The Eukanuba Premium Sport diet has an adapted blend of nutrients, high protein and added joint support to help your dog achieve their mental and physical best.
The final point is to remember to have fun! Having your canine companion join you on your fitness journey is a reward in itself and here at Eukanuba™, is something we would love to see more of.
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