Fredrick 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.
Exercise for Dogs
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 them in an exercise keeps them 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. Learn how to care for them in the heat and how to treat their skin, teeth, legs, and other parts of the body during and after the exercises.
Quick Reference: Preparing and Caring for Your Dog When Exercising in the Field
Preparing Your Dog for the Exercise:
- Feed them.
- Check their health.
- Check their fitness.
- Warm them up.
- Start at a slower pace.
- Guide and control them with a harness.
Caring for Your Dog During and After the Exercise:
- Focus more on workouts that favor their behaviors.
- Reward them with treats.
- Provide them with enough water.
- Take breaks.
- Monitor them throughout.
- Let them cool down.
- Inspect them for injuries.
- Inspect them for parasites.
- Bathe them.
- Give them enough food and water.
- Let them 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 them food right before exercising can lead to digestive problems.
When it comes to feeding your dog, you need to give them food that contains the right amounts of fat and protein. Fat will provide them with performance fuel, while protein will rejuvenate their muscles after the hard exercise. You also need to give them water to keep them hydrated, and unlike food, you can give them 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 Their Health
Checking their health will help you know if they're capable of participating in the exercise. If you have been keeping dogs for a while, you may not find it difficult to assess their health. Some health conditions to check for include respiratory problems, heart disease, obesity, and arthritis.
If you are not capable of determining their health or you are sure that they have a health issue, you can get help from a veterinarian. If they're in good health, then you can start getting ready for the exercise.
3. Check Their Fitness
The ability of a dog to workout is determined by their fitness, in addition to their 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 their fitness on your own or ask for assistance from a veterinarian. Exercising is a great way to improve their fitness, so when you are out there in the field or on the road, ensure you give them some good exercise.
4. Warm Them 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 them up is to throw a ball and allow them to run after it. While they're 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.
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 them comfortable. Pack some treats, water, paw salve, and booties ready to hit the road.
To get started, call your canine buddy by their name and make two steps. Repeat this until they're comfortably walking with you. Give them 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 them. A harness can also help control your workout companion when they meet other canines.
Your dog can get involved in fights with other animals, subjecting themselves 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 a rubber ring, easy-grab handle for easy control, durable shell with a 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 them. Canines love to run, chase, jump, and fetch, so you can use these behaviors to develop an exercise program that will not strain them.
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.
2. Reward Them With Small Treats
Giving your dog some small treats every now and then will be a great way to motivate them. So reward them often with treats, especially when you are impressed with their performance.
Note: It is advisable not to give them a lot of treats as they can cause digestive problems and make walking more difficult for them.
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 to choose a pack that is enough for your dog(s).
3. Provide Them With Enough Water
This is a great way to care for your dog in the heat. If you are exercising in hot weather, give them water to help them cool down and remain well hydrated. This will, in return, keep them active.
Concerning how to give them water. You can use a water bottle that releases small amounts of water to control the amount they're drinking.
4. Take Breaks When They Get Bored or Tired
When your workout companion gets tired, you should take a break to let them rest. The number of breaks will depend on weather and terrain, among other factors. If you had not given them treats and water, you can decide to give them 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. You can do this by just touching the pavement with your hand. If you find the ground is too hot for them, you need to protect them with paw salve or have them wear booties.
If your exercise companion stops panting and looks relaxed, you should know that they have rested enough and you can then continue with the exercise.
5. Monitor Them Throughout the Workout Session
The purpose of monitoring them is to identify any signs of fatigue or poor health. A dog is usually happy and alert when they're in good body condition. If they start to stop or lie down, you should know they're fully exhausted.
Heatstroke 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 heatstroke, you can try the following first aid care.
- Lay them on a cool surface.
- Blow cold air on them.
- Place cool, wet towels on their neck, armpits, and groin.
- Wet their 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.
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 to return to normal.
After getting back home, let them cool down and you can help them relax by rubbing their muscles and stretching their legs. If they're still experiencing high temperatures, you can use a damp towel to cool them down.
7. Inspect Their Feet for Any Injuries
You need to check for any cuts, blisters, or cracks on their toe pads and nails. If they have 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 they have major foot injuries like broken limbs 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 they sustain 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.
9. Bathe Your Dog With Soap and Clean Water
After checking and removing any parasites and foreign objects from their skin and hair, you can go on to bathe them. 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 their body, including paws and nostrils. After that, you can rinse them with fresh water and dry them with a clean towel. Washing your dog is also a great way to care for their hair.
10. Give Them Healthy Food and Clean Water
Your dog will definitely be hungry and thirsty by this time, so give them 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 their house and provide them with good resting conditions. Since they will be extremely tired, they will be highly likely to sleep immediately. Let them have enough sleep and rest. You can facilitate this by not making noise near their house.
Your dog will definitely enjoy more benefits when you prepare them well for exercise and also when you properly take care of them 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, they will gain good health and fitness.
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This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2015 Fredrick aka JS
Fredrick aka JS (author) from Intercontinental on March 16, 2019:
It's highly likely to be due to the eyes reflecting light, but you can always check carefully, and if possible, contact a vet.
Jessica on March 16, 2019:
My dogs eyes are geen does that mean she’s going blind