Exercising Your Dog Part 2

What better way to enjoy the great outdoors than to take your dog with you?

Exercising with your dog outside will lead you into some serious quality time together, helping to strengthen your bond with the dog, and leave you both feeling great.

Dogs, like people, are far less likely to exhibit behavioural problems when they are well exercised, leaving a deep sense of relaxation and calm, whilst being free from anxiety and stress as you bathe in those uplifting endorphins.

Depending on the environment you have before you, you can do so many things with your dog when outside.

As well as playing fetch with the humble tennis ball, you could stretch your imagination to the Frisbee, cycling together, roller blading or swimming in the sea together if you live in a suitable climate. The UK is experiencing an interest in CaniX, which is basically running with a dog whilst it wears a harness connected to the handler via a stretchable chord.

So which breeds are suitable for such activities? The short answer is that virtually all dogs can be exercised outside in a way that allows them to have fun and remain fit.

Certain types of dogs will prefer different ways to exercise their natural instincts. Working breeds such as the gun dog group (Pointers, Labradors, Retrievers, Spaniels and so on) or pastoral breeds (Collies, German Shepherds, Old English Sheepdogs) will love virtually all forms of finding and returning an item to you. Introduce entering into water for the same game and your dog will probably love it. This can be made into a more involved game involving nature's obstacles to introduce agility and nose work to find a hidden item such as a toy you may have planted earlier.

The terrier group (Jack Russells, Border terriers, Airedales etc.) also love to seek items out in hard cover, and are no less adventurous or brave due to the reduced size. The instinct to thrash a toy they have retrieved may leave it in less than good shape, so ensure it is a tough one to play with.

All of the above breeds will happily run or walk as far as most people can due to the efficient stride and reserves of stamina.
A number of the toy breeds can handle good levels of exercise too. This group includes breeds such as the Bichon Frise, Chihuahua, Papillon and Pomeranian. Simply downsize the same activities, and many will be surprised as to what a big heart they have.

Ideally a dog should be eighteen months of age before giving it hard prolonged exercise, and a very gradual build up to that point is advisable. If in doubt consult your vet before commencing a fitness programme with your dog.

It's important to build the dog up gradually if your dog happens to be out of shape. Give regular easier rest days to begin with, and keep an eye out for lameness or cut pads for example. Dogs will often exercise with little regard for their own safety, and often show a much higher tolerance of pain than humans do.

A checklist to consider before each adventure will include the following:

1. A simple 1st aid kit for both of you. (your vet can help with this.)
2. Carry a mobile, and the phone number of your vet.
3. Let somebody know where you're going, and expected time to return.
4. Take adequate food and fluids.
5. Take adequate clothing for the weather conditions.
6. Avoid exercise in excessively hot conditions.

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