Making sure your dog gets enough exercise

I believe that enough quality exercise is the most important thing you can give to your dog and everything else will follow on from this. Their ability to focus and follow any training and discipline will be clear as their excess energy will be drained and they’ll be willing to work for you. Once they’ve had enough exercise they’ll be more than happy to settle down and sleep well leaving you to get on with whatever you need to.

It’s important to recognise that too often we live in an indoor world that doesn’t suit most dogs. We’re usually on the computer working or watching TV when our dogs need to be outside, sniffing, playing and interacting with other dogs. They don’t self-entertain and the need for exercise is not just a physical one for a dog, but a strong psychological one too. The back garden or same route around the block simply won’t be enough for any dog as it’s not providing enough stimulation.

The best thing to understand as a dog owner is how much exercise your dog needs for their size, age, breed etc. as well as what combination of structure and activity to combine to keep your dog physically and mentally stimulated.

For example, my lab on average gets a combination of 2-3 different one hour walks a day in which he’s both on and off-lead. Some are with other dogs that he runs and plays with, others are more sedate where he’s left to sniff and explore on his own. One other aspect that is important is to include training on every walk, whether it’s his recall, walking to heel or simply keeping to the path. Training builds the bond you have together and maintains a well-balanced, happy dog that wants to please you… and get his treats of course!

Another activity I do fortnightly is gun-dog training. This gives him a highly structured, but fun 2-3 hours where he learns to follow my commands clearly and learn from other dogs in the group. Whilst there’s not much physical activity, the mental stimulation he (and I) get on these days wipes him out for the rest of the day.

Smaller dogs may only need a 30 minute walk in the woods in the morning and some play time at home or in the garden in the afternoon.

One aspect of walking your dog that can be forgotten is that it is the best way to let them know you’re the leader and to increase the bond you have with them.

One way to ensure they know you are the leader is to ensure that your dog isn’t pulling you. Loose leash training is ignored by many a dog owner, mainly I feel because it does take a lot of consistent effort, often over many months to get right. A dog quickly learns that they are the leader and get to where they want to go quicker by pulling, but with a strong leader they will fall into place alongside their owner and the walk will be far more enjoyable for all.

Another important factor of walking your dog, just as it is for yourself, is to control their weight. It’s very easy to over feed our pets and have an overweight pooch. They learn very quickly what buttons to press to get more food out of us, so measuring their food out each day and making sure they’ve had a good run and exploration time outside will keep him fit and healthy.

Socialisation is something else to consider for your dog when you’re out walking. Meeting other dogs enables him to learn the right ways of interacting with other dogs, it builds his confidence which in turn means that when he meets other dogs he isn’t afraid. This is particularly important for puppies and if they do start to show fear, taking them to a good training class is a good way of removing any anxiety. While out on a walk you can also teach him that jumping up on people to greet them isn’t acceptable.

So to conclude, most dogs need a minimum of one hour a day outside to run, play, explore, socialise and learn about the world around them. Without this interaction they’ll become bored, frustrated and destructive. He’s dependent on you for this, so if you’re out at work all day consider getting a friend or dog walker in to make sure they get the company and exercise they need.

If you’d like any further help or to use my dog walking services in Thirsk, Northallerton and surrounding areas please contact me on 0797 2581530.