A Fit And Healthy Dog
“A little dog doesn’t need as much exercise as a big one.” Unfortunately you hear this statement very often. But it is simply wrong! Exercise plays an important role for every dog to stay healthy and mentally fit. It stimulates circulation and metabolism, strengthens the immune system and keeps joints, tendons, muscles, bones and nerves intact.
How much exercise does my dog need?
How much exercise a dog really needs can hardly be determined in general. The optimal range of movement must always be individually adapted to each dog. The number of fists is at least 2 hours of movement per day. There are however different factors, on which the movement need of an individual dog depends and which it applies to consider:
Age: A young dog naturally has more energy and a greater urge to move than an old dog. But when is my dog actually “old”? In general, small dogs from the age of 12 are considered old. In the case of large dogs, one can speak of an old dog from the age of 8. They often prefer to exercise at a more moderate pace. Nevertheless, regular exercise is important to maintain mobility and muscle mass.
Endurance: A fit, well-trained and enduring dog can take more exercise than a dog that is still at the beginning of its training. Endurance must be built up slowly and steadily in order not to overload the dog.
Health: The state of health of a dog naturally plays a major role in the design of the exercise and sporting activities. Physical impairments or even pain severely limit the mobility and motivation of every living creature. How much movement is offered to these dogs, should always take place in arrangement with the veterinary surgeon!
Physique: An athletic physique usually indicates a great urge to move, as the dog’s physical abilities are designed for movement. As an example greyhounds or Huskys are to be called here. Huskies are even able to cover extremely long distances. At the hardest sled dog race of the world, the “Iditarod” in Alaska, the dogs cover up to 240 km per day.
Breed: One should always keep in mind that all dogs are descended from the wolf. This runs in the open nature 20 to 50 km per day! After the domestication of the wolves the most different dog breeds were produced in the course of the years. However, the majority of these dogs were bred as working animals. This also includes many small breeds such as the dachshund or the Jack Russel. They have a great urge to move in their genes. Unfortunately, this is often forgotten today. Only the fewest races were bred as pure Begleit- and society-dogs and show a smaller movement-instinct.
Variety: There is a big difference between movement and load! A dog that has to trot monotonously on a leash next to a herring is moved, but is less busy than a dog that is offered a varied range of movement and also promotes and challenges its mental fitness.
How do I vary the movement of my dog?
Not only people like variety in everyday life, also dogs are always happy about new activities. Changing running routes, different surfaces or even swimming instead of running. There are countless possibilities. I also think it is important that dogs kept alone are regularly given the opportunity to play with their peers. This does not only bring variety into the everyday life, but promotes also the social authority of your animal in handling other dogs. If you like it a little more unusual, you may find some dog sports to be your favourite. Ever heard of Agility, Dogskiing, Dogdancing or Bikejöring? There is certainly something suitable for everyone here:
Possible symptoms of underexertion and lack of exercise
Aggressive behavior, destructive rage, excessive urge to chew and dig, and constant search for attention can be signs of underexertion and lack of exercise. Behavioural abnormalities can also manifest themselves in hyperactive yapping and howling, leading to severe psychological problems.
Consequences of lack of exercise
A lack of exercise can lead not only to behavioural problems, but also to health problems. The first is probably the risk of being overweight. However, obesity does not only depend on the sporting activity of your dog, but is also influenced to a large extent by feeding. Other problems that can occur due to lack of exercise are indigestion, joint inflammation, cardiovascular disease and secondary diseases caused by a weak heart with poor pumping performance.
Overstraining and overexertion
As important as sufficient exercise and occupation is, the dog’s workload can quickly become an overload. Especially young dogs often do not yet know their limits and are endangered because their bone structure is not yet mature. Even in adult dogs, overexertion is sometimes difficult to detect because the dogs show symptoms only late. They try to walk even when they have hardly any energy reserves or pain. That is why a limping or limping dog should always be taken seriously! In order to prevent this, rest breaks and a sufficient supply of water are particularly important.
Walking the dog in old age is more effective than sport
Older dog owners are more physically active than people of the same age without a dog – the difference is particularly pronounced in rain and cool temperatures.
Norwich (UK) – It is important but difficult to encourage older people to engage in physical activity. The weather often serves as an excuse not to go out for a walk. Bad weather cannot be changed. But if you have to take care of a dog, you can still go for a walk in the rain. In this way a dog probably contributes more to health in old age than medical warnings or participation in sports courses for senior citizens, British researchers report in the “Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health”. According to their study, dog owners move even more in wet and cold weather than their peers without a dog do in best weather.
If you want to get people to be more physically active, you shouldn’t just justify it with the benefits for their health, says Andy Jones of the University of East Anglia in Norwich, the head of the research project. “Our results show the importance of motivation through external factors – in this case the need to go out with the dog even in bad weather”. The study involved 3123 people aged 49 to 91 from the county of Norfolk. Of these, 573 were dog owners, of whom two thirds walked with the animal at least once a day. The test persons each received a so-called actometer, which was worn on the body for one week during the day and recorded all movement activities. A weather station provided meteorological data for each day of the study period. The statistical evaluation took age, gender, general health and educational level into account.