Instructables

How to Exercise Your Dog

Hello fellow dog lovers! Does your dog have destructive behaviors like digging, or tearing up your house? Or even psychological issues like biting, endless pacing, or other seemingly absurd behavioral issues? No? Then prevent these problems and let your canine friend get out more and enjoy life. The best answer and prevention to these problems is to give your dog plenty of exercise and activity. Your animal also demands quality attention from you (the dog owner), so this instructable will not talk about building dog runs, or treadmills but instead it will focus on healthy activities one can do with the animals.

The key to good exercise is work up the heart a good amount so that the dog reaches a good pant. This happens to be the dog's reaction to body heat, so it is a good indication they are working hard. If the pant is too strong, you will hear a harsh wheezing breath that sounds very unpleasant. Be sure to give your dog rest, especially older dogs and provide plenty of water when finished. They will be very thirsty.

This guide is based on my own experiences with my dogs, but due to the nature of taking care of pets mileage may very and suggestions are certainly welcome! Let me remind you that playing with your dog is not only beneficial for the mind and body of your pet, but also for you! Daily exercise is required and most ideally more than once in a day.
 
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tranndee1 year ago
But games really ARE exercise, and a great way to change up your exercise routine. First, part of the purpose of exercise for a dog, even a walk, is to provide mental activity. Having new experiences and things to see, hear, smell and think about exercise the mind and make for a happier dog, a calmer dog, and a less destructive dog. Playing games certainly provides a dog something to think about--a challenge and and goal.

Second, even mild games generally get a dog moving, more than lying around does. Any movement is healthy. Sustain that movement for 20 minutes, you have just worked out. Do that workout 4 days a week or more, you have an exercise routine, easy peasy.

Third, while mild games may not provide an intense cardio workout, it will provide other benefits. It will elevate heart rate and circulation somewhat, and even a little burns calories. Mild games and learning tricks gently stretches muscles and joints--very good for dogs how have trouble working out anyway. And of course the mental stimulation is important for mental health (for both of you!)

You may think learning a trick is boring, but most dogs do not. It is still movement and activity--better than doing nothing, it is mental stimulation, and it is time with you. Again, some activity is better than none.

I think games are a great way of getting your dog exercising if 1) YOU are bored with the walk (your dog is not!) 2) you or your dog can't get out for a walk 3) you have a very smart breed that has more energy than you do and a 5 mile run is out of the question, 4) you just want some variety in your routine.
sdavis402 years ago
We have a lab and due to my boyfriends job we currently live in a small two bedroom apartment, but we've found numerous ways for him to get exercise indoors, without wearing us out or breaking things. One easy way is to take a chair that spins (I have a computer chair) and place it in an open space. Get a rope or other sturdy tug of war toy and take a couple spins in one direction, that way he can run fast. Switch directions unpredictably. Toss the toy in between so he doesn't get dizzy or bored. If he catches it you can let him tug at it and since your in the spinny chair you really just have to hold on to it and he'll sway you around and so it's still fun but also reduces the harsh tugging on his teeth. My boyfriend kind of thought this was mean at first, but I got one of those laser pointers (they actually had one in the pet section). He LOVES it. He knows that he can't physically catch it, but he still loves chasing it. It's good because you can vary the pace and again he doesn't get too bored. He knows it comes from the little tube in my hand, and he'll sniff if and then sit and wait for me to shine it somewhere again. If you're okay with it you can use a hall or a open space (I sit in the corner of the living room if I'm on the couch and from there have a straight shot to the kitchen and foyer) to play fetch with him. We use a plush duck (that quacks when you bite it, way less annoying that squeaky toys) so that it doesn't make loud noises or threaten to break something. We don't use a plush as a tug of war toy so he doesn't think it's okay to pull it apart (in which case he will inevitably try to eat the stuffing). If you have kids this may teach them that throwing things in the house is okay, so that may not be a good idea for your family. He will fetch forever as long as we keep it interesting. If you toss the same toy in the same direction at the same distance of course he'll get bored (I mean, would your idea of good exercise to walk back and forth in the same spot?) I've taught him the difference between his toys and will switch it up and make him get different toy, then sit (or do another trick, like lay or roll over), and then throw it. I'll change up how far I throw it and the direction and sometimes just to where he can catch it. That's a good way to teach tricks because he sees tossing the toy as a reward, reducing the amount of dog treats you may use and also giving him some mental stimulation. He also loves ice cubes, as treats AND toys. If I'm getting something outta the fridge I'll put one on the floor and slide it and he'll push it and chase it around until it melts (oooor goes under the stove...I should probably put something there) One ice cube isn't really gonna be messy. It makes him super happy when I constantly talk to him as I'm doing the dishes or laundry and other stuff I have to do. He follows me around wagging his tail and giving me the "shiny eyes" because I'm giving him attention in a direct way but I'm also able to get stuff done. He's learned the tone of my voice through that too so instead of having to yell at him when he's bad I just use my disappointed voice and look sad as I focus on whatever it is he's done. He immediately drops his tail and ears and comes up to lick me as an apology. I'll just look at him and shake my head and say his name in a sad tone.Then he goes to sulk under a table or the bed. After a few minutes we go and pet him to let him know we still love him, and since labs love pleasing their owners, they quickly lay off of doing things that cause the disappointed look. Of course he's a water dog but there's not really a good place for him to swim around here, but he loves the shower, lol. I was showering one day and he poked his head around the curtain, then hopped in... I definitely wasn't expecting that. But he loved it, so now every now and then I'll turn it on and let him get in and try to catch the water. Or I'll fill up the garden tub and sit with my feet in and keep dunking a ball for him to catch. It is adorable. Surprisingly it's not really messy and since he's a lab his coat repels most of the water so it's easy to towel dry him afterwards. I know this is super long... I'm one of those people who talk about my dog like mothers talk about their children, lol. The only two things we've had a really hard time breaking him of is biting (playfully, but still) and jumping. Does anyone have any recommendations for how to get him to stop nipping at us or chewing on things... we've used apple bitter (which he doesn't like but as soon as it's dry he goes right back to it... he even starting chewing a hole in the drywall... ?! He is in that older puppy phase (8 months) so of course it's natural but I know he's smart enough to learn that it's bad... unfortunately I'M not smart enough to figure out how to teach him. It's hard to make myself do the disappointing thing because I'm too busy trying to fend him off if he's excited (like when I first get home or start playing something fast paced. Conventional training on these don't seem to be working. He knows down and no jumping, but that only stops it for a moment. If we say 'sit' he'll immediately sit and wait for the next command, and that calms it down a bit, but if I don't quickly give him another command or play with him he just jumps on me again. Advice is definitely welcome. Okay, I believe this is long enough... L=
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starny sdavis402 years ago
Hi. It looks like you have a great dog. I was able to break my dog from the jumping habit. I keep a spray bottle with water in it. He happens to hate to have water sprayed in his face. Not all dogs do, though, and a lab probably won't mind. Still, it's worth a try.

Positive training methods are best. You can learn them from reading if you don't want to go to a class. I like to keep my dog's mind active with training, and he enjoys it. It's a puzzle for him to figure out what I am trying to get him to do. A friend gave me a fascinating book called Smellorama, Nose games for dogs. It's very cool.

Good luck!
mammasass2 years ago
Yeah true. I like to use Sasquatch Itch Cream for my poison oak flares. But what's funny is that my golden retriever (God bless him) tries to lick it off! :o
brainlock4 years ago
I've trained my 65lb german shephard to stop pulling by walking in the opposite direction when she pulls... we are up to 2 city blocks of no pulling after her 3rd walk.

Doing this makes it a little hard to schedule when the walk should end though.  There have been a couple of times where we are almost home only to have her pull and I end up walking her half a block extra.
I have used the same technique with my German Shepherd. He would pull constantly, but when I suddenly just turned around he realized real quick he was going the "wrong way"! I got a puzzled look of, "Whaddya doin?!" When he started pulling again, we immediately reversed again. It didn't take him long to realize he was not in charge of our walk and if he didn't want to be going the wrong direction, he better walk beside me! Our walks are much nicer now... Keep up the routine, it will pay off! Especially since GSD's are the smartest dogs! :)
dfahmy ffgrif2 years ago
this works with most dogs but border collies are the smartest dogs
It worked well on my golden lab too. He hated the leash and it took me several weeks but it worked! Thanx!
My mom and I are considering a dog, but we don't know what kind to get. She wants a Lab because they are easy to train and whatnot, and we definitely don't want a lapdog. The neighbors have 4 Shelties that seem really cool. What do you recommend?
Get a Red Doberman, trained cool dogs i had mine for almost 14 years until he passed away. DO NOT CROP THE EARS!!!
OH I so agree with you on this. same with tails. a dog needs its tail for so many things. one is to show you how happy or worried it is. tail goes under when worried or unhappy, wags like mad when happy OUR dog won a waggiest tail comp in mutt contest. lol She was lovely, now on our third this one is a staffie cross but rescue as have all our dogs except the first. Deepha( D for Dog) was my special lady and no idea what her parentage was as her mother died giving birth to 4 puppies BUT Deepha was so loyal and intelligent she learn STAY in a situation where I was across the road and she had jumped off our boat to follow me. She also was my best companion when I was so ill I could not talk but she would go fetch my husband when I needed help.
Thanks Yerboogieman for your comment.
Labs are great, but they are not as easy to train as people think - The first year is hell (Ok, we did get 2 making it much worse), but they can be very stubborn. And if you aren't very strict, you will get a lapdog... I haven't met a lab yet that hasn't tried to climb on my lap at some point. A golden retriever might be a good plan too - They are less hyper than Labs.
Golden's are a great dog but do best if you can let them go to water, be it a ditch lake or stream. you can't make the weather too cold for Labs and Golden's. All dogs the first year are teething plenty of big bones to chew on and they love wood also. Golden's have only one bad trait for the first 3 years and that is they will jump up on you, because they want to be the best friend you ever had. Golden's do have hair shedding issues but can be cut back in the summer. Golden is not just a name or color it's because, the nature of these dogs and their patience. Never let the soft looks fool you they will defend you with their lives. Our Golden has already flipped one pitbull and put him on his back and commenced to kill him. Took 2 folks to drag the dog off.
Hey'a Shino. If you are a first time dog owner a lab would be perfect as they are pretty difficult to 'muck up'. Don't get me wrong, if you neglect them, don't give them daily exercise, and let them lawd it over you they will be a pain in the butt. However, they at least are normally well balanced mentally. But no matter what dog you get, the fastest way to get problems is to not exercise them every day. Very few dogs require less exercise than at a bare minimum 3/4 - 1 hour of good solid trotting with runs in between. Most dogs are under exercised in our western society. I have a Rhodesian Ridgeback and she needs a good hour at least. In the winter I take her beside me on my bike up hill and down dale and she's happy as larry. Some of that run is at near full speed for her (down the hill of course as I can't keep up with her otherwise...lol). In the summer it's quite hot where I am, so I take her early morning or evening for walks with a few runs in between. Also, if you can afford it, feed a diet NATURAL to your dog....that's meat, meat and meat and a few bones, especially the edible ones, raw....not cereals, and other human foods. Shelties are cool little dogs but can be very noisy. My RR never barks unless there's someone coming. All the best dog hunting. :o)
Oh...just a note...you shouldn't exercise a dog under 6 months hardly at all....just playing in the backyard, or take him in your car to other places to meet people and other dogs. It's really important to protect their skeletal system when they are young...let them grow...then introduce the regular exercise I am talking about above.
if you exercise dogs when thear yong thay will behave. becuse if they are hiper thay are more likley to be bad!!!
Actually, if you exercise your dog too much, and give them the wrong kind of exercise when they are too young, you have a higher risk of skeletal problems, (particularly hips) especially with the larger breeds. You must be careful when they are young to keep them from repetitive jumping off things, hard running, etc. Just playing in the backyard or a park is fine. If you want a young dog to behave, then be the pack leader! That is predominantly what keeps any dog well behaved; just ask my Rhodesian Ridgeback...lol.
I recommend shetland sheepdogs, very smart, easy to train, medium size...
Actually, our neighbors had 4-5 shelties. :P They were straight out awesome.
i say just get a mut from the pound thats were i got my last two dogs
Being partial to AKC Golden Retrievers, You can't beat these dogs. Very few bad traits and extra smart dog. The hair problems, just have them trimmed close once a year. They are outside dogs and need a lot of exercise. Love to swim, go, meet people-very social.
brawns214 (author)  Aburame Shino5 years ago
Thats a tough question. It depends on what you are looking for and what type of a place you have. We have a large field around our place so our large dogs can get plenty of exercise. If you have a house with a small backyard or an apartment, then go with a cool small breed. Unfortunately i don't really know about them. As for large breeds, I've had golden retrievers which are always super friendly. But you cannot go wrong with a lab. They are friendly, smart, and I have yet to meet someone who is unhappy with a lab.
Mm. We have large fields around the house, big yard and stuff. We want something we can do stuff with, not lazy and stuff. We had a retriever once that was pretty cool. I used to like rottweilers, but my dad's cat got killed by one, so meh. XD
*double post* We also go camping alot during the summer, so we want a dog we can play with then.
saucepan3 years ago
Hi,

Please be aware that if a dog eats or drinks water before doing any physical activity, then it may bloat. That is the stomach can twist around its longitudinal axis and is very serious and life threatening. Dogs with a deep chest are more prone. Waiting 2 hours after eating/drinking water is highly recommended to avoid this. Ask your vet for advice on this particular issue. Thanks for the instructable though.
Chowmix123 years ago
Chows should only have a maximum of 3 baths a year! If i have my companion shampooed everyday, wouldn't that be bad?
yes, that's not good for your dog. he can clean himself.
Horse_Fly3 years ago
Does anyone know how one could build a lure course machine? We took our Jack Russell, Hank, to a terrier competition not too long ago and he loved chasing the "rabbit". I looked into buying a machine online but they run from $400-600 which I cannot afford.

It seems like it is just a motor and some pulleys. I would imagine it could be made for much less than $400 especially since mine only needs to go about 20mph at most.

I guess I could always just tie the thing behind my bicycle and pull it around the yard.
How would you suggest exercising an olde bulldog? They don't have much of a tail so you can't really tell if it's wagging. What do y'all think?
jessimata3 years ago
my boxer/pit bull mix is a strong lady! she weighs 1/2 of me at 47 lbs and when she pulled she pulled! it finally stopped when we stopped...literally. as soon as the leash got taught i would stop...then wait for her to ease up and proceed. it took ALOTof patience but she finally learned once the leash was pulled the slightest we went no where.
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archerj3 years ago
"If your dog is too fat, you're not getting enough exercise."
Digging is not destructive behaviour in dogs, especially not as regards hunting dogs (whether these actually go on formal hunts or not). Threadmills are considered a form of torture of dogs, but ordinary running letting your dog run freely at his own pace is good exercise for dogs. Puppies and very small sized dogs should not be forced to run at the pace of an adult human as this is too strainful for them (whether on leash or not on leash trying to catch up with their owner).
It seems to me that if my dog was digging holes in my yard, tearing up my lawn and garden and risking exposing wiring, piping, etc., that it would be considered destructive, whether it is a hunting dog or not. 

As a canine behavior it stems from a dog becoming bored with no outlet for excess energy.
flamekiller5 years ago
Regardless of whether the law says you can let Fido run off leash, keeping him on leash is also a best practice. This is especially true in high traffic areas, areas where motor vehicles are allowed, and trails with horses. The chasing of wildlife by dogs is often frowned upon by trail goers, including those that bring their dogs along. In areas with predatory animals, particularly cougars, keeping your dog close at hand makes him look much less like prey. Giardia and cryptosporidium can wreak as much havoc on your dog's intestinal tract as it can yours. Best policy is to discourage the drinking of water, even in clear, fast-moving streams. If your pup drinks a little bit here and there, it's probably of little concern as the incidence of contracting giardia or crypto from a sip here and there is pretty rare unless the water is heavily contaminated. Carrying a purifying filter will eliminate any nasties that might be floating in your drink. Avoid iodine or other chemical treatments as you have to let the water sit for some time, and most dogs will turn their noses up at the taste.
All those control measures have their place. To me it's best to let my Golden Retriever stretch out and hit the water. These dogs are bred for the muck, cold, ice, swamps. They come under 2 categories, retriever and hunts on his own. My dog hunts on his own. I say take your dog to a remote area and let them run free, remember they have been on this earth for thousands of years also. A happy golden is wet, muddy, covered in stick tights.
LeighStat6 years ago
Dog parks are notorious for spreading "kennel cough," also known as bordetellosis or tracheobronchitis, but your vet can administer a quick vaccine to prevent it.
w8znx LeighStat5 years ago
ur right but id rather take the chance my dog lives simply lives to run around with a pack of dogs running with a packof dogs is his greatest joy yours truly
flyboy115 years ago
a great dog is a german shorthaired pointer they are protective and easy to train for more info http://www.dogbreedinfo.com/germanshorthairedpointer.htm
Hey'a Brawns....great instructable. I have a Rhodesian Ridgeback and walking isn't enough for her. She gets a little frustrated at the slow pace, so I usually take her on my push bike, but only in the winter (too hot here in NZ in the summer). I bike about ten kilometers and it takes about an hour. I do that every day. But I also play fetch, take her to the beach (I'm not much of a beach person, so we don't do that much. I prefer the bush, or mountains). She's such an awesome dog. Don't they make the best mates. I see your pooch is getting on a little. How old? Nice dog.
Those are really cool dogs.
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