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Dog Activities & Fun - The Importance Of Keeping Your Dog Active

How does the ideal activity level for a dog change based on age and breed?

The ideal activity level for a dog varies significantly based on its age and breed. Puppies typically have periods of high energy followed by sleep, while the energy level of adult dogs, particularly smaller breeds, tends to be more consistent. They won’t sleep as much, unless you’re at work all day. Then they will sleep a bit more during the day. The energy level of individual breeds can also vary widely. For example, a Labrador Retriever puppy won't calm down until they reach two to three years of age, whereas a hunting dog will maintain a high energy level for a long time.

Dr. Meghan Denney
Four Paws At Fulshear

What health problems can arise in dogs that don't get enough activity?

Dogs that don't get enough activity can become overweight, a common issue among dogs in the United States. This is usually a result of inactivity without adjusting their calorie intake, leading to weight gain. It’s easy to feed them too much because when they give us those puppy dog eyes, we want to give them something off our plate. Sometimes you give them their dinner and they still look like they're starving, so you give them more. But weight gain is a real problem and results when a dog is inactive and their calories are not being restricted. In addition, older dogs with arthritis can see their condition worsen if they don't stay active.

How does a dog's activity level affect their behavior?

High activity levels can lead to hyperactive behavior in dogs, especially in breeds like the German Shorthaired Pointer that are bred for hunting and high physical activity. Breeds that tolerate being a house pet more are happy just chilling. Dogs that are not getting sufficient physical activity and mental enrichment can make poor decisions due to boredom, such as eating inappropriate things or destroying property. A tired puppy is a well-behaved puppy, and an enriched dog that gets enough exercise is less likely to get into trouble.

What are some fun activities I can do with my dog?

There are several fun activities that you can do with your dog. These include going for a walk, a drive, or a hike. Just make sure you’re always bringing water with you. When you are outside walking, make sure it’s not too hot by touching your palms to the pavement. Early mornings and late in the evening is typically the best time for a walk in the summer. They can also run alongside you when you’re biking, just make sure they’re on soft ground because if you bike too much on hard ground, their paw pads can get damaged. You can also take your dog boating or to dog-friendly restaurants. Just make sure you have a leash and bring a ball. Most restaurants that allow dogs will pour your dog some water. Another fun activity is taking your dog to Starbucks for a puppuccino, which is a great bonding experience if your dog doesn’t have a sensitive stomach.

What if my dog is lethargic and won't exercise?

If your dog is lethargic and it's a deviation from their normal behavior, you should call a veterinarian. If your dog usually greets you when you get home and now they’re laying in a corner, that’s abnormal. If you have a little dog that jumps on and off furniture and suddenly they’re not doing that anymore, something’s wrong. Often, lethargy can be a sign of pain, and early intervention is key. Just because a dog is not whining or crying doesn't mean that they're not hurting. Any deviation from a dog's normal activity level should be evaluated by a veterinarian.

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