A conditioned animal is healthier, happier, more alert, and more content. It will sleep better, have more energy, and be more socially adjusted. Exercise benefits your dog by keeping him lean and trim. Physically active animals have stronger and healthier bones, stronger cardiovascular systems, better muscle tone, and fewer everyday ailments.
A common problem for dogs is that the only activity their owners share with them is feeding, and this becomes a reward system. It becomes a form of positive feedback for both the owner and the pet, resulting in the animal getting fed too much, causing an overweight condition.
Exercise should be built into a dog's daily routine, but if you plan to take it on long walks, jogging, or camping, additional physical conditioning is essential to build your animal's stamina. The first step should be a veterinary examination to insure the animal's basic health.
For 90% of all dogs, a half-hour walk in the morning and another half-hour at night should be sufficient. Owners who anticipate strenuous exercise for their pet should provide additional conditioning levels. Begin several weeks in advance and slowly increase your dog's daily exercise period.
Start slowly, maintain a regular routine, and never push your pet beyond its capabilities. An suitable goal is a minimum thirty minute exercise session, three times a week. That includes a five minute warm up, twenty minutes of aerobic activity, and a five minute cool down period.
An overexerted dog usually pants heavily, breathing becomes irregular, and its gait might become uneven. Its breathing may suddenly become quiet and the dog may faint.
If the weather is humid or hotter than 80E F., most dogs shouldn't exercise due to the extraordinary stress this places on the heart. Symptoms: fainting, coughing, heavy breathing, and long periods of sleeping. Certain breeds are more susceptible; these include beagles, boxers, collies, fox terriers, miniature and toy poodles, shetland sheepdogs, and dobermans. If conditions are in the mid-70's and only somewhat humid, pet owners can exercise their dogs -- but only moderately.
Heat exhaustion or heat prostration occurs following prolonged exposure to intense heat and heavy exertion. Lack of salt is also a cause. Heat exhaustion develops slower than heatstroke and is characterized by fatigue, muscle weakness, and collapse. It is not common in dogs, but appears as a complication of cardiovascular disease.
Provide plenty of clean, cool water during hot months and never force your dog to exercise after eating. Exercise in the cool of the morning or the evening and provide plenty of shade outside the house.