The American Humane Association estimates that up to 60 percent of dogs put down in their shelters were abandoned due to behavioral problems with which their owners could not cope. However, something as simple as daily exercise could have prevented many of these problems. Besides reducing misbehavior, daily exercise also improves overall health in dogs just as it does in humans.
Before you drag your pooch out the door for a long walk, however, you must evaluate just how much exercise is appropriate. This depends on your dog's size, breed, age, personality, and general health. For instance, dogs in the sporting, hound, and working categories will need more exercise than other breeds. Likewise, younger puppies cannot tolerate long walks as well as full grown adult dogs. Older dogs may also need to slow down, as their health and energy levels decline.
Before embarking on a new exercise program, you will want to consult with your veterinarian to ensure your canine is up to the challenge. Dogs with chronic conditions like hip dysplasia, arthritis, or heart and respiratory ailments may need special consideration. It is important to know your dog well and to listen to the signals he may be giving you, including limping, reluctance to go outside with you, or excessive panting. To overcome these challenges, focus on gradually reducing the intensity of your dog's workout, while still maintaining a regular schedule of exercise.
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