On a hot summer day, Dillon, left, and Sandy take to the dog beach in the off-leash area of Magnuson Park in Seattle for a cool mid-day romp. Photo by Dean Rutz
Dr. Kobi Johnson, executive administrator of Puget Sound Veterinary Referral Center in Tacoma, answers this week’s and next week’s questions about exercising our dogs.
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Question: How do I determine how much exercise — and what kind of exercise — my dog really needs?
Answer: Certainly every dog is an individual, and sporting breeds tend to be more active and need more exercise to be happy and stay fit. The important question is how much is enough vs. how much is too much? Planning daily exercise for all dogs is important for maintaining general health and behavioral well being.
As a rule for dogs, I encourage owners to allow the dog to exercise to the degree it seems comfortable, that is, most dogs will give signals when they are fatigued or need rest.
Never force the dog to keep going. Adult dogs generally have matured enough to know when their bodies are hot, tired and need to rest. If the dog is dropping behind, slowing down, sitting down, panting heavily, then stop and rest.
Only start the exercise again when the dog indicates he wants to do more. Be sure to provide fresh water and a place for the dog to get out of direct sunlight, if it’s a hot or humid day.
Not all dogs — purebreds or mixed — are built to win competitions, but just about any breed can engage in and enjoy activities such as fly ball, agility and more, especially with a passionate owner.