Spring is finally (almost) here and the with the warmer weather, the clocks have also sprung ahead. With extra daylight time thanks to daylight savings, there’s even more time after work and on the weekends to be outside and enjoying the great outdoors. It’s also a time when many of us increase our exercise to get ready for summer, and shed some of that “winter weight” we may or may not have put on. And I know that at least for me, I’m not the only one that needs to be more active. My dogs also packed on the pounds this winter so getting some exercise is as good for them as it is for me!
Here are some great dog exercise tips for spring that can help you and your dog get back in shape.
Start slow. Like you, your dog has most likely been a little more sedentary during the winter than perhaps the rest of the year. Don’t get overzealous and start out with a 5 mi jog or a long, challenging hike. Take it easy, and start slow, to allow your and your pet’s muscles to get used to being back in work.
Build up your fitness gradually. If you started w
ith an easy 1 mi walk the first day, gradually build up to doing more. Add in a little jog here and there, take it easy on the hills to start, and gradually increase the intensity and terrain of your workout to allow your dog the time to adjust as well.
Take care of senior dogs. Just like us, as we get older and start to “feel it in our joints” more over time, so do our canine counterparts. Senior dogs may need additional support in the form of joint supplements to help them feel better when exercising. And if their discomfort is more consistent, talk to your vet for options on arthritis medication that can offer them lasting support.
Consider leaving Fido home. While it’s great to work out with your pet all the time, especially for senior dogs or puppies, too much of a good thing can be too much! Take it easy and focus on the shorter/easier walks or hikes with your pup and consider leaving them at home when you really want to push your own limits.
Know your dog’s breed type and limitations. Some dogs are better suited than others for outdoor activities. Cattle dogs and huskies tend to be more active, while poodles and dachshunds may struggle to keep up on a hike or jog. It’s important to know what your dog’s breed can naturally handle and then of course consider your pet’s individual needs based on their own personality, health, and age.
Get a checkup. Not sure if your pooch can handle a 4 mi hike up and down the mountain? Concerned about the way your dog is moving after a long walk? Do they wake up stiff on a rainy day or are they prone to muscle cramps? Excessive panting and drinking a concern? All of these things can be signs of a bigger issue. Rather than risk it, it’s always best to talk to your vet before increasing your dog’s physical activity significantly.
And most of all, enjoy the warmer weather! Happy (almost) spring!