Summer is here! And while most days are ideal for biking, rollerblading, skateboarding, Frisbee and all the fun we talked about in Part Two of our canine exercise series, there are bound to be a few rainy days that put a damper on outside activities. Not to mention those inevitable “dog days of summer” when it’s just too, too hot and humid for man or beast to do much more than walk to the frozen yogurt store! Our third and final installment of our “Spring into Action Blog” offers just what you need to help your dog beat the heat, laugh off the rain and deal with summer while staying in top form.
Indoor Exercise to Add to the Summer Mix
Smart dog owners consider some indoor alternatives that work well for rainy days, hot days or even overscheduled days when we may need some non-traditional ways to supplement our dogs’ exercise program. Here are a few options.
Doggie treadmills. Doggie treadmills are becoming increasingly popular, but don’t feel the need to run out and purchase one—your human treadmill will work just fine. Although they were formerly used to keep working dogs fit, they function just as well for companion dogs. They’re perfect for rainy days, and they’re also a cool alternative to exercising outside in the height of the summer. Having the luxury of 24/7 access with no fee (except for their initial cost) and no travel time are good enough reasons to have one right beside your other home-exercise equipment. You and your dog can go for a run together without leaving your home, and do it at any time of day!
Day school and day care. Have you thought of sending your dog to doggie day care or even better, doggie day school for a couple of days a week? Doggie day care facilities have quickly become very popular in most cities and provide your dog with supervised indoor playtime among his own kind while you are at work. Doggie day school adds training into the mix. They generally open early and close late to accommodate your schedule. Many even offer pick-up and delivery.
Night school. Enroll yourself and your dog in night school. Make the most of the unpredictable spring weather and schedule evening obedience classes that won’t conflict with your barn time. By the time the summer is in full swing, both of you will be ready to show off your new talents. Although classes alone may not give your dog all of his physical stimulation, they can easily replace a daily walk and have the added advantage of providing your dog with mental stimulation, socialization in a supervised environment, and lasting results.
How much exercise?
Now that you’ve got several different types of exercise to try, let’s take a quick look at how much exercise your dog needs. Like horses, not all dogs require the same amount. Depending upon your dog’s age, breed, and health; the amount of daily exercise that your dog needs will vary. In general, the more energetic the breed, the more energy your dog needs to burn. But that doesn’t mean you can become complacent if you own a low-energy dog—he needs exercise, too!
Regardless of how much exercise your own dog needs, it’s important to follow these simple suggestions:
- Start slow.
- Begin with short distances and short sessions.
- As your dog builds up stamina, you can gradually increase the pace and the distance but always end when the dog is still eager to do more.
- Don’t exercise outside in very hot weather or on hot surfaces. Know the signs of heat stroke and be aware that exercise on hot pavement is not only uncomfortable for your dog, it can actually wear his pads down.
- Prevent Lyme disease and prepare for hikes through woodlands and hay fields by treating your dog with tick control products consistently all year round.
- Remember to always bring clean water or know where you will have access to it.
- Planning a vacation, day hikes or sending your dog to boarding or camp this summer? Make everyone’s life easier with convenient precisely measured PortionPaks for dogs…delicious single-serve portions for just-opened freshness at every meal.
- Vary the amount and type of exercise so you do not burn your dog out with repetition and boredom.
- Pay attention to your dog’s post-exercise behavior, watching for limping, symptoms of heat exposure and other signs they have had more than enough. Even dogs in good shape need to be monitored and can benefit from supplemental care, just as our horses do. My senior dog, Taela, loves her Back on Track® Mesh blanket and wears it before and after exercise just as my Thoroughbred does.
Whatever exercise activities you choose, have fun and enjoy all the benefits of a healthy, happy dog and an enjoyable, lifelong partnership with all of your animals!