Dog Exercise Program: Preparation and Care for Field Exercises

Updated on May 22, 2018
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Januaris is a supplier of pet food and care products, and he’s a true animal lover. He loves to write about dogs, bettas, bees, and pigeons.

According to canine fitness trainers, dogs need to be prepared adequately for field exercises. They also need to be given good care during and after the exercises.

Preparing your dog well and taking proper care of him in an exercise keeps him active and free from some injuries. This allows you and your canine friend to enjoy all the benefits of the exercise.

So, how do you prepare and care for your dog when exercising in the field? Well, read on to learn how to get your dog started for a jog or run as part of the field exercise program. See how to care for him in the heat and how to treat his skin, teeth, legs, and other parts of the body during and after the exercises.

Jogging with a Dog
Jogging with a Dog | Source

Quick Reference: Preparing and Caring for Your Dog When Exercising in the Field

Preparing Your Dog for the Exercise:

  1. Feed him
  2. Check his health
  3. Check his fitness
  4. Warm him up
  5. Start at a slower pace
  6. Guide and control him with a harness

Caring for Your Dog During and After the Exercise:

  1. Focus more on workouts that favor his behaviors
  2. Reward him with treats
  3. Provide him with enough water
  4. Take breaks
  5. Monitor him throughout
  6. Let him cool down
  7. Inspect him for injuries
  8. Inspect him for parasites
  9. Bathe him
  10. Give him enough food and water
  11. Let him rest

Preparing Your Dog for the Exercise

1. Feed Your Dog Hours Before the Exercise

It is strongly recommended to feed your dog 10 hours before the exercise. This is because giving him food right before the exercise can lead to digestive problems.

When it comes to feeding your dog, you need to give him food that contains the right amounts of fat and protein. Fat will provide him with performance fuel while protein will rejuvenate his muscles after the hard exercise. You also need to give him water to keep him hydrated, and unlike food, you can give him water at any time.

Bloat is the most common digestive problem that occurs when you feed your dog right before or after an exercise. It highly affects large dogs and also the deep-chested ones like German Shepherds, Boxers, and Akitas. The deadly condition causes an enlarged abdomen, difficulty breathing, weak pulsating, and excessive drooling, among other problems.

2. Check His Health

Checking his health will help you know if he's capable of participating in the exercise. If you have been keeping dogs for a while, you may not find it difficult to assess his health. Some health conditions to check include respiratory problems, heart disease, obesity, and arthritis.

If you are not capable of determining his health or you are sure that he has a health issue, you can get help from a veterinarian. If he's in good health, then you can start getting ready for the exercise.

3. Check His Fitness

The ability of a dog to workout is determined by his fitness, in addition to his health. A fit dog can walk at least 30 minutes without getting tired. If your four-legged buddy is not quite fit, you will be forced to adopt lighter exercises.

You can assess his fitness on your own or ask for assistance from a veterinarian. Exercising is a great way to improve his fitness, so when you are out there in the field or on the road ensure you give him some good exercise.

4. Warm Him Up

This is a great way for you and your canine friend to start the exercise at a higher note. Warming up a dog is an important task in an exercise program and should take only a few minutes. The recommended time is 5-10 minutes.

The best way to warm him up is to throw a ball and allow him to run after it. While he's after the ball, you can stretch a bit or perform some press-ups. A warm-up is highly recommended for overweight dogs and those with joint problems.

A Dog Warming Up
A Dog Warming Up | Source

5. Start the Exercise at a Slower Pace

Starting at a slower pace will allow your dog to adapt to the exercises with less stress. Quick movements frighten these animals, so it is important to start at a slower pace to keep him comfortable. Pack some treats, water, paw salve, and booties ready to hit the road.

To get started, call your canine buddy by his name and make two steps. Repeat this until he's comfortably walking with you. Give him some treats and increase the pace.

6. Guide and Control Your Dog With a Harness

If your dog has not fully mastered the movements involved, you can use a harness to guide him. A harness can also help control your workout companion when he meets other canines.

Your dog can get involved in fights with other animals, subjecting himself to diseases and parasites. You can prevent any fights with the help of the harness.

When it comes to choosing the right harness, it is recommended that you consider the size of your pet and the harness type. Getting the right size is not a major issue: choosing the right type is the thing that challenges many people as there are many types out there. Personally, I have settled on the Big Dog Soft Reflective Harness which is the strongest, lightest, most user-friendly, and durable vest harness out there. I keep my dog under control and comfortable with the help of this item.

If you are confused on which harness to buy for your pet, I recommend that you try this one provided by EXPAWL - a leading supplier of quality pet products. The harness itself comes with a reflective strip above the D ring, easy-grab handle for easy control, durable shell with lined and padded interior for added comfort, and adjustable front chest.

Caring for Your Dog During and After the Exercise

1. Focus on Exercises That Favor Your Dog's Behaviors

Focusing on workouts that favor your dog's behaviors will make the whole exercise process easier for you and him. Canines love to run, chase, jump, and fetch, so you can use these behaviors to develop an exercise program that will not strain him.

You can also make use of dog games during the exercise. Some games that your four-legged friend would definitely love include fetch play, ball dribbling, digging, tug-of-war, and flying disc.

A Dog Digging Up Soil
A Dog Digging Up Soil | Source

2. Reward Him With Small Treats

Giving your dog some small treats every now and then will be a great way to motivate him. So reward him often with treats, especially when you are impressed with his performance.

Note: It is advisable not to give him a lot of treats as they can cause digestive problems and make walking more difficult for him.

If you are looking for great treats for your canine buddy, I would recommend that you try the Milk-Bone MaroSnacks Treats which are designed to suit all dog sizes. My dogs really love these treats which are quite delicious, tasty, and nutritious with cooked bone marrow beef fat and meat meal. The wholesome treats are rich in calcium and are available in different packs to allow you choose a pack that is enough for your dog(s).

3. Provide Him With Enough Water

This is a great way to care for your dog in the heat. If you are exercising in hot weather, give him water to help him cool down and remain well hydrated. This will in return keep him active.

Concerning how to give him water, you can use a water bottle that releases small amounts of water to control the amount he's drinking.

4. Take Breaks When He Gets Bored or Tired

When your workout companion gets tired, you should take a break to let him rest. The number of breaks will depend on weather and terrain, among other factors. If you had not given him treats and water, you can decide to give him these essentials during the break.

If you are exercising in the summer heat or on steep slopes, you will have to take breaks more often. Hot pavements or surfaces can really hurt a dog's paws, so it is advisable to check the pavement for heat, and you can do this by just touching the pavement with your hand. If you find the ground is too hot for him, you need to protect him with paw salve or have him wear booties.

If your exercise companion stops panting and looks relaxed, you should know that he has rested enough and you can then continue with the exercise.

See This Video on How to Keep Your Dog's Paws Safe in the Heat

5. Monitor Him Throughout the Workout Session

The purpose of monitoring him is to identify any signs of fatigue or poor health. A dog is usually happy and alert when he's in a good body condition. If he starts to stop or lie down, you should know he's fully exhausted.

Heat stroke is a common problem for dogs when exercising. Some symptoms of this condition include panting, dehydration, rapid heart rate, excessive drooling, and respiratory distress which is common in brachycephalic breeds. If your dog starts to suffer from heat stroke, you can try the following first aid care.

  • Lay him on a cool surface.
  • Blow cold air on him.
  • Place cool, wet towel on his neck, armpits, and groin.
  • Wet his earflaps and paws with cool water.

Other conditions that you should check include coughing and limping. The two conditions can be relieved by slowing down the exercise. But if the conditions persist, you should stop everything and call a veterinarian.

See This Brief Video on How to Treat Heat Stroke in Dogs

6. At the End of the Exercise, Let Your Dog Cool Down

First, slow down the exercise as you prepare to end the workout session. This will allow your dog's heart rate and body temperature return to normal.

After getting back home, let him cool down and you can help him relax by rubbing his muscles and stretching his legs. If he's still experiencing high temperatures, you can use a damp towel to cool him down.

7. Inspect His Feet for Any Injuries

You need to check for any cuts, blisters, or cracks on his toe pads and nails. If he has minor cuts and blisters, you need to clean the toes, disinfect the cuts, and apply salve on them. This is a great way to care for dog wounds. If he has major foot injuries like broken limps or deep cuts, you need to call a veterinarian for help.

Injuries can hinder dogs from exercising. They can even force you to change the exercise routine. So if he sustained some injuries, you will have to wait for them to heal before you can plan another workout session.

8. Check Your Dog for Parasites and Foreign Objects

If you were exercising in grassed or dusty areas, you should check every part of your dog's body for parasites such as ticks and mites. Some parts that you shouldn't fail to check include ears, armpits, neck, and under the fur.

You need also to check for foreign objects such as leaves and soil particles. If you find some parasites or objects, you can use your fingers to remove them. Removing these harmful organisms and objects is a great way to care for your dog's hair and is a task that should not be left out in a field exercise program.

Inspecting a Dog for Parasites and Foreign Objects
Inspecting a Dog for Parasites and Foreign Objects | Source

9. Bathe Your Dog With Soap and Clean Water

After checking and removing any parasites and foreign objects from his skin and hair, you can go on to bathe him. It is recommended to use a soft cloth, soap, or shampoo and clean water to wash your four-legged friend.

Ensure you wash every part of his body, including paws and nostrils. After that, you can rinse him with fresh water and dry him with a clean towel. Washing your dog is also a great way to care for his hair.

10. Give Him Healthy Food and Clean Water

Your dog will definitely be hungry and thirsty by this time, so give him enough food and water. Ensure the food is healthy! Any food that can add unnecessary calories is not recommended. The best foods are the ones that contain plenty of vitamins. As for the water, you should ensure it is clean and safe.

11. Let Your Dog Rest

Finally, lead your workout companion to his house and provide him with good resting conditions. Since he will be extremely tired, he will be highly likely to sleep immediately. Let him have enough sleep and rest, and you can facilitate this by not making noise near his house.

Conclusion

Your dog will definitely enjoy more benefits when you prepare him well for an exercise and also when you properly take care of him during and after working out. Your canine friend will stop bad behaviors, build confidence, and start enjoying better sleep with the help of exercises that are accompanied by adequate preparation and proper care. Above all, he will gain good health and fitness.

References

  • C. Westgarth. "A Comprehensive Review of Dog Walking Correlates". biomedcentral.com. BioMed Central. (PDF). (2014).
  • Bumgardner Wendy. "Dog Owners Get Twice as Much Exercise - Dog Walking for Exercise". About.com. About. (2010).
  • Braslau-Schneck Stacy. "An Animal Trainer's Introduction To Operant and Classical Conditioning". wagntrain.com. Wag-N-Train. (1998).
  • Derbyshire David. "Walkies? Fat chance. One in Five Dog Owners Too Lazy to Take their Pets Out Every Day". dailymail.co.uk. Daily Mail. (2010).
  • Strasburg Jenny. "Longer Work Days Lead to Need for Doggy Day Care". news.google.com. Today's New Herald. (2000).
  • Hearne Vicki. "Adam's Task: Calling Animals by Name".Book. (1987).
  • Knight Rebecca M. "Day Care for the Dog, Peace for the Owner". nytimes.com. The New York Times. (1999).
  • Kerns, Nancy. "The Whole Dog Journal: Handbook of Dog and Puppy Care and Training". books.google.com. Google. (2008).

Have you been preparing and taking good care of your dog when working out with him?

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If yes, how is his behavior, confidence, health, and fitness?

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    © 2015 Januaris Saint Fores

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