At Petnet, our mission is to help you make intelligent decisions when it comes to your pets. That includes not only helping you find the best food for their health and well-being and guiding you to proper portions , but also helping you keep them healthy and fit. We want all pets to live a long and happy life, just like you do.
One of the most important things you can do for your pet, second to feeding them well, is to make sure they get proper exercise. This week in our Exercise Tips series, we’re going to focus on large breed dogs.
First, let’s define large breed. We consider large breed to be over 40lbs and under 100lbs. Dogs outside that range will have somewhat different exercise requirements, so we will look at them separately.
If we examine the AKC Registry at larger breed dogs, you will see that most of these dogs fall into the Working, Sporting and Herding groups. These dogs were bred to do a job, possibly pulling a sled (Siberian Husky), jumping into water to fetch dinner (Labrador) or protecting the home from lions (Rhodesian Ridgeback). If you think about the jobs they perform, you can see that they require strength, focus and energy. Couch surfing is not enough for these dogs, they need real exercise that makes use of the muscles, brain power and energy they were born with.
Here’s a few tips for keeping these dogs in tip-top shape:
- Daily walks, runs or hikes of 30-60 minutes minimum duration. These outings should be aerobic enough to raise their heart rate, just like humans. Sustained aerobic activity is required, three 10-minute strolls around the block won’t cut it.
- Mental challenges. Dogs are smarter than you think and you want to work their mind, just like you work their bodies. This could be a game of fetch, hide & seek or a maybe dog puzzle toy. Training your dog to sit, stay, or other tricks are good brain games for your dog.
- Find them a job. There are all sorts of dog training camps that offer fun classes beyond puppy training. We’re all familiar with agility classes for dogs, but just like running isn’t for every human, agility isn’t for every dog. There are tons of other options out there. Look into nose work, dock diving, herding classes or even flyball or disc dog for those high energy Belgian Malinois and Border Collies!
- Doggie Day Camp. You will find these day care centers all over the place now. They are great for improving your dog’s socialization as your pet will mingle with a variety of other dogs, but they are also excellent for the energy release that comes with playing.
Whatever exercise options you choose, be sure an monitor your pet’s level of interest and enthusiasm. If they aren’t into swimming, dock diving is a poor choice. Also watch for signs of fatigue. Dogs, especially when they are having fun, aren’t adept at self-monitoring and will just keep going till they drop. It’s up to you to monitor them and call it quits before they do too much.