This New Year, turn over a new leaf and improve the health of both you and your dog..
How much exercise?The amount of exercise your dog needs depends on its breed. Working dogs like collies, spaniels and retrievers need a lot of exercise. Lapdogs such as Maltese Terriers or shih tzus need far less. However, they will still enjoy a stroll round the park.
Take care not to over-exercise puppies. 5 to 10 minutes of exercise 3 or 4 times a day is better than one long walk. Build up exercise times gradually as your puppy grows. If you’re not sure how much exercise your dog needs, speak to your vet..
Preventing obesityAlmost 50% of the UK’s dogs are overweight. Obesity in dogs can lead to arthritis, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. To put it into perspective, an obese dog will live 2 years less, on average, than a dog of the correct weight.
One of the main causes of obesity in dogs is lack of exercise. And not exercising your dog can lead to a vicious cycle – fat, unfit dogs aren’t able to walk as far as healthy dogs. If your dog is overweight, increase exercise gradually, and soon you’ll have a happier, healthier pet..
Exercise and mental healthIt's often overlooked, but dogs need regular exercise to stop them developing problem behaviours. A bored dog will be a naughty dog. Exercise can improve compulsive behaviours such as tail chasing, barking and excessive licking, particularly in conjunction with a behaviour moderation programme..
Going for walks with your dog will also develop and strengthen the special bond the two of you have. Dogs love routine, and will thank you for making sure they get 2 or 3 regular walks every day. Sticking to a routine builds trust, and will help make sure you have a healthy, happy dog..
If you can’t walk your dogSometimes life gets in the way and work or illness might mean you can’t walk your dog. If you can’t walk but you’re still at home, you can provide mental stimulation for your dog in the form of training. Training a dog to perform a simple trick, or just to stay in their bed can be as tiring as running around for 20 minutes. If you’re going to be housebound for a long time, it’s worth asking a friend or neighbour to walk your dog, or use a professional dog walking service.
It may be that you have difficulty walking your dog because of their behaviour. However, not walking them won’t solve the problem. If your dog pulls on the lead too much, barks at other people or dogs, or is scared to go outside, then seek professional help. The Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors can help you find a professional qualified therapist in your area.
Owning a dog should be fun, and going for regular walks is all part of dog ownership. By doing a little bit of training every day, and sticking to a regular exercise routine, you’ll have a happy, healthy dog. Plus, you’ll increase your own personal fitness.