How to Increase Your Dog’s Daily Activity
“The key to introducing exercise is to take it slow and easy,” Linder advises. “Slowly build up to each activity and let the pet guide how much he can do while monitoring for any aches and pains after a new activity.” If you try turn your couch potato dog into a weekend warrior overnight, you run the risk of injury.
Healthy dogs without any medical conditions can start with a five-minute walk three times a day, Linder says. Gradually increase the time until your dog can walk for 30 to 45 minutes per day. Be mindful of high temperatures, she warns. “Each pet has a different tolerance for heat, but overweight dogs and those with short noses are especially at risk.”
Short-nosed (brachycephalic) dog breed owners should also exercise caution when starting an activity program. “Dogs with shortened noses or faces might not be able to get air in as effectively as their long-nosed peers, so be extra careful with dogs like Bulldogs and Pugs,” Linder says. Since these dog breeds generally don’t tolerate heat well, she suggests taking them on shorter walks with longer breaks in between.
Likewise, if your dog has health issues—such as joint problems or heart disease—Linder suggests seeking out veterinary physical rehabilitation services that can help improve your dog’s strength and mobility while limiting the risk of further injury or worsening cardiovascular disease.
Once you have a better grasp on your dog’s abilities and limitations, you’ll be able to find his exercise sweet spot.