One of the best things you can do with your new puppy is provide them with the proper amount of exercise. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP) (www.petobesityprevention.org) , approximately 54% of U.S. dogs are considered overweight or obese. Besides feeding the proper amount of a good quality diet, the next best thing to maintain proper weight is exercise.
EASE INTO IT
The requirements for exercise will vary based on your pet’s breed and age. Some breeds tend to be more laid back while others have a higher activity level. Younger puppies tend to go through multiple cycles of sleeping, playing, eating and eliminating throughout the day with bursts of exercise and activity lasting for a little as five minutes.
As they age the amount of time they stay awake will increase, and so will their exercise and activity requirements. There is no set amount of exercise each dog requires. The best approach is to ease into exercise and increase it as they mature into adulthood.
Walking is often the go-to exercise for dogs. It provides a great opportunity for bonding with your pet, provides them a chance to eliminate and gives them a change of scenery.
Persistence is key when first introducing walking to your puppy as they adjust to wearing a collar and leash. Short walks with a positive ending (think belly rubs and treats) for tolerating these new accessories will help to get your new puppy accustomed to this routine.
Until your puppy is fully vaccinated it is best to keep walking restricted to your yard to prevent exposure to other animals and disease. It is also wise to avoid walks in extreme heat and cold.
Some puppies get most of their exercise during play. A good game of fetch, tug or chase will get the heart pumping. Having multiple different play sessions and games to play with your puppy will keep them from getting bored.
MENTAL ACTIVITY IS ESSENTIAL
Destructive behaviour such as chewing furniture, excessive licking and inappropriate elimination can be the result of anxiety created by a lack of exercise and activity. Ensuring your pet maintains an active lifestyle both mentally and physically will help decrease the chances that these troublesome behaviours arise.
Spending time teaching your dog tricks or offering them puzzle toys that contain hidden treats will help to keep them mentally stimulated and healthy.
When they are old enough, obedience training is also a fantastic way to increase your pet’s daily steps, engage them mentally and teach them the basics of being a well-behaved dog.
Starting an exercise routine with your new puppy and sticking with it throughout their life encourages a healthy lifestyle and will help decrease the risk of weight-associated diseases. Your veterinary healthcare team is a great resource to discover what exercise you can include in your individual pet’s daily routine.
Kristina Cooper is a Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT) and proud member of the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians (OAVT). She has previously worked in both small animal practice and a municipal animal shelter. With a special interest in the relationship between animal and human health she is currently the Provincial Manager of the OAVT Public Health Rabies Response Program and an active One Health Initiative advocate. She can be reached by email at email@example.com