April is "Active Dog" Month, But it can do more harm than good to over exercise your dog, especially if they are anxious or fearful.
There actually are a lot of obese dog's in the UK at the moment.
A study from Royal Veterinary College has shown that 1 in 14 dog's are overweight.
That is quite shocking statistics and probably only the tip of the iceberg.
Their study also recognised specific breeds with a tendency for weight gain,
“8 breeds showed increased risk of overweight status compared with crossbred dogs":
English Springer Spaniel ,
Labrador Retriever ,
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Cocker Spaniel .
With this evidence there is certainly a need to get our dog's more active, but also to check their diet including all those extras that we cannot resist giving our dog's, especially when they give you that look,
This study was done last year 2021, so I think lockdown has actually exacerbated this problem with our dog's, and actually people too have stated they also have gained weight during lockdown.
So if this is the case, and our dog's need to be more active, why am I giving you 5 reasons why too much exercise is bad ?
Because I specifically work with anxious nervous dog's, maybe with reactivity, I have heard from some of my clients that they have been told that their dog's behaviour is due to their dog not getting enough exercise. So they have been going out with a ball and having their dog chase it for 20 minutes hoping to tire them out. All this has done is produce a very fit dog, but hasn’t worked on the dog's reason for their behaviour which is Emotional not Physical.
2. A lot of a dog’s behaviour can be caused by pain issues. Dog's are amazing at hiding pain. The adrenaline rush they get chasing a ball can mask the pain they will be having. Thus making their behaviour worse, because they are hurting. Imagine if you had chronic pain, would it make you bad tempered, a little snappy perhaps? It has been shown that ball chasing is actually one of the worst exercises we can give our dog's, due to the long term wear and tear on the joints. So as your dog ages, these signs of pain will become more evident.
3. OK lets go, time to get into shape…………. Think of how you would feel if maybe you did no physical exercise at all during the week, and then a personal trainer gets you out of bed and makes you do a 10 mile run.
Our dog's are the same, they need time to build up to that 10 mile run. So use this month to build up you and your dog's fitness, then celebrate that 10 mile run.
Too much too soon can lead to injury.
4. Dogs that find the outdoor world a scary place really do not benefit from those long walks.
But you want to tire out your energetic scared dog! How on earth do we do that without exercise?
Take them in the car for 5 minutes to a safe area where they can just wander and use their noses. It is actually more tiring for your dog to have a 10 min sniffy walk than a 10 mile walk.
Enrichment games at home or in the garden. Hide toys or food, use puzzle toys, be inventive and make your own.
There are loads of enrichment for dog's out there, just google it. Get help from a qualified trainer.
5. Care must be taken with puppies and young dogs,
Their joints haven’t developed yet.
There is a rule going around about 5 min for every month. So a 4 month old pup should get 20 mins of exercise a day.
An over tired puppy will show some unwanted behaviour, especially around early evening. Puppies need a lot of sleep, more than you think.
18 to 20 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period.
Every dog is different, just as every breed of dog is different. The larger the breed, the later they mature means the later their joints have developed.
Plus remember it isn’t just saying 5 min of exercise per month, the type of exercise counts too.
Yes lets get active this APRIL, but also see the dog in front of you. What do they need, how can you help them meet their needs.