Some dog breeds are naturally much more active and lively than others, and one of the most common mistakes that dog owners make is choosing a dog that is not compatible with their lifestyles, and not taking account of the significant need for exercise that some dog breeds require.
While many breeds of dog suit a relatively sedentary lifestyle and are perfectly happy with just a couple of short walks per day, some breeds and types of dogs are made for working and running around, and can spend hours and hours each day on the move without tiring.
If you own a very active, lively dog or are considering buying one and want to find out more before you commit to a purchase, it is important that you have a plan for how you will exercise your dog, and provide enough mental and physical stimulation to them to keep them happy and not hyperactive or overly excitable.
In this article, we will look at some of the ways in which you can exercise a very active dog most efficiently, so that by the time you get home with your dog, they are pleasantly tired but you are not on the verge of dropping yourself! Read on to learn more.
If your dog is one of the most active breeds, such as a Siberian husky, Border collie or Springer spaniel, there is no shortcut or magic trick that you can perform to reduce their need for exercise. While there are different ways to exercise your dog and some will contribute to wearing your dog out more than others, none of the methods at your disposal to fulfil your active dog’s need for exercise will permit you to reduce their walks and exercise periods to a low level such as that that some other breeds can maintain.
Ergo, it is important that you know and understand that you will still have to devote a significant amount of time every day, come rain or come shine, to exercising your dog.
If you run or jog with your dog on the lead, this obviously requires more energy expenditure from your dog than if you simply walk with them, but having your dog on the lead at any pace can also be active and stretch your dog’s mind and body more than you might think. Walking on the lead should be an active process, involving communication and responsiveness from your dog, and not be a case of putting them on the lead and then pretty much leaving them to it while your mind is elsewhere.
Keep up a brisk walking pace, use on the lead time for training, and direct and encourage your dog to think and work with their minds when walking on the lead too.
Walking off the lead when and where it is safe to do so allows your dog to run and range more than they can do when on the lead, and as such, provides a greater degree of physical exercise to put your dog through their paces. But again, simply letting your dog out in the garden or park and then largely letting them get on with it is not very interesting for your dog, and will not make them feel particularly fulfilled.
Engage with your dog even when they are off the lead, encouraging them to seek out scents, explore interesting things, and run around where possible.
There are loads of ways to get your dog on the move and keep them occupied without having to run flat out to keep up with them! Enclosed spaces such as a dog park where your dog can safely be let off the lead are great for this, and provide plenty of things for your dog to do that will keep them happy and allow them to work off their excess energy levels.
In a dog park with other dogs, joining in in play, socialisation and interaction with other dogs is an excellent way to keep your dog entertained and also get them moving, and it can be exhausting to watch an active dog and other lively members of a new temporary pack running around and having fun.
Even without other dogs, games such as catch with a ball or Frisbee allow you to conserve your energy somewhat, while letting your dog work both their muscles and mental abilities too.
Canine sport such as agility or flyball are excellent outlets for lively, active dogs, and very rewarding for owners too. Most areas have some form of canine sport club or organisation, so think about taking your dog along to have a go. Training and sport exercises both the mind of the dog as well as the body, and mental stimulation goes as far towards wearing your dog out as physical stimulation does.
Swimming is a great resistance activity that works all of the muscles, and you will find that even the most lively of dogs that is not used to swimming will tire faster in the water than they will on land. Taking your dog swimming (assuming that they enjoy being in the water!) is one of the best ways to work all of your dog’s muscles and give them an outlet for their high energy levels.
Runners and serious sportsmen and women who take their fitness seriously often use weights, such as a weighted backpack or arm and leg weights to help to build up their resistance and strengthen their muscles. Working with a few extra pounds also makes the muscles work harder, and as well as strengthening them, tires the body out more quickly! Consider getting your dog fitted out with a weighted pack or other weighted device for your walks, in order to provide resistance for their muscles, and allow them to get more expenditure of their energy out of their normal activities.