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What you need to know about exercising your dog

As a pet owner, it’s your responsibility to look after your dog’s health. That means providing them with a nutritious diet and giving them plenty of exercise. A lack of regular activity may result in all manner of health and behavioural problems, so it’s essential that you commit to keeping your dog healthy. Here are some tips for animal exercise.

Introducing your puppy to exercise

Owners should introduce their puppies to exercise gradually. Start by taking your puppy for short walks on the lead. Puppies can tire very easily, so if they lose momentum, sit down or lie down, let them have a rest or carry them for a while and then head home.

It’s essential that all dogs have some off-leash exercise time. Dogs love having the opportunity to run around freely and set their own pace. You can do this in a backyard or designated dog park; however do be careful to keep an eye on puppies in unfenced areas, especially if they have not yet learnt the rules of the road. Some neighbourhoods have fenced ‘dog park’ areas. Check with your local council.

Exercise options for dogs

Dogs love nothing better than a walk, but a walk is just one option for active animals. Here are just a few suggestions for getting out and about with your dog:

  • Visiting a designated dog park so the dog can run around freely off-leash;
  • A game of fetch; and
  • Swimming under direct supervision.

Exercising safely

It’s important that young growing puppies are not overexerted as this can cause long-term musculoskeletal problems, and dogs should not be exercised immediately before or after eating as this can predispose to bloating which can be fatal (particularly deep-chested dogs). Don’t run, jog or cycle with a dog – this is high intensity sustained exercise and can overexert dogs. Dogs should have opportunities to run freely in a dog park off-leash and this enables them to regulate the duration and intensity of the running themselves. Speak to your vet for details and for advice on exercise options for your particular dog. Exercise has a whole range of health benefits, and a healthy dog is a happy dog.

The RSPCA provides information on exercise for your animal. For advice or referral to a vet in your area, see also the Australian Veterinary Association. It’s worth remembering having dog insurance is an option that may assist with costs, if your dog is involved in a specific accident or becomes sick.

RSPCA Pet Insurance offers four great value plans for your dog, which can help you manage the costs of unexpected vet bills. Find out more about RSPCA Dog Insurance plans.