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Chapter 15: A Combo Of All The Activities

“Variety is the spice of life” as the old saying goes, and although dogs need some structure in their schedule, they enjoy having a change of pace as much as you do.

Different Activities

Do as many different activities of those your vet approves for your dog and mix it up as much as possible so that your canine buddy doesn’t have the same old routine, week in and week out.

Different Intensities

Sometimes alternate light and heavy exercise days,
and other times have entire weeks that are light or heavy.
The idea is to create variety via intensity within
whatever parameters your vet approves of.

 

Days Off

Some weeks I give both my dogs one day off exercise. I’ve been doing that for years to no detriment to my dogs and with the blessing of my vet. The fact is, though, that all dogs are individuals, so your vet is the best one to advise you on how many days off your dog should have, if any (many dogs need to exercise every single day without fail).

Flexible Timetable

As for exactly how much total exercise to do per day, it will depend on what your vet recommends - and what your vet recommends will depend on the dog’s age, breed, energy level, and any medical conditions.

However, no matter what exercise schedule you have in mind for a given day, be prepared to be flexible and make changes according to what you feel your dog needs: if your dog seems tired or energetic, reduce or increase the amount or intensity to suit.

Change Of Exercise Means Change Of Food

Vary your dog’s daily food consumption depending
on how much he or she exercises that day.
More exercise equals a little more food, less exercise
means a little less food. (And that goes for you too!)

 

How Much Is Too Much Exercise?

Use any combination of days off and exercise hours that your vet approves, but avoid regularly exceeding the daily maximum.

Sure your dog might be able to handle it (and even love it), but you want your dog’s body to last, not be prematurely used up from too much exercise. Dogs’ joints wear down too, and you don’t want your dog’s joints to wear out before their time.

Changes With Time

The amount of daily activity your dog needs will change
over the years because, just like humans, dogs slow
down as they get older. Use common sense and confer with
your vet as to when and how to lower the amounts and
intensity of your dog’s daily exercise. And remember:
no outings is no solution
. Just because your dog might
not be as mobile as he or she once was, that
shouldn’t mean an end to the adventures.

 

To The Jake And Jasmin Files!

Take both my dogs as examples of very different ages and exercise needs:

Jake Stats

Name: Jake.

Alias: Captain Jake T. Kirk.

Description: a dog who boldly goes where no dog has gone before (in other words, he ransacks his Nan and Pop’s house on a regular basis to try to find food).

Age: 12.

Hobbies: barking at motorbikes, kissing humans on the mouth when they're least expecting it, hiding under freshly-dried clothes in the clothes basket.

Favourite song: Bad To The Bone.

Life’s goal: to rule the world.

Known accomplice: Jasmin (and, previously, Jordan).

Naughtiest deed: attempting to steal food (a Lebanese baklava to be precise) right out of my hand while my head was turned.

Physical challenge: mildly arthritic back legs.

Overall health: besides arthritis, is otherwise in excellent health.

Fitness level: very fit for his age.

Energy level: high energy for a dog his age and considering his arthritis.

Amount of exercise: one to one-and-a-half hours daily, with zero or one day off per week.

Jake's exercises include:

  • On-lead walks.

  • Treadmill sessions.

  • Off-lead runs in the park.

  • Runs in the park using the recall lead.

  • Swimming in summer.

Jasmin Stats

Name: Jasmin.

Alias: Jazzy McGee.

Description: lovable maniac of a dog.

Age: six.

Hobbies: running at full speed, barking at full volume, sitting in the bathtub at random times for absolutely no reason whatsoever.

Favourite song: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.

Life’s goal: to rid the world of cats.

Known accomplice: Jake.

Naughtiest deed: escaping the house to run across a six-lane road and thereby giving her mummy a fricken heart attack.

Physical challenge: unable to be in ten places at once.

Overall health: excellent.

Fitness level: ridiculously fit.

Energy level: extraordinarily high energy for any dog of any age or breed.

Amount of exercise: sometimes one, usually two (occasionally three) hours daily, with zero or one day off per week.

Jasmin’s exercises include:

  • On-lead walking.

  • On-lead walking with weighted backpack.

  • Treadmill sessions.

  • Tearing around the park while on a recall lead.

  • Swimming in summer.

  • Running while I scooter, skate or cycle.

>>>On to Chapter 16: Other Activities

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SAY NO TO PUPPY MILLS! SAY NO TO ANIMALS IN PETSHOPS! SAY NO TO BREEDERS!

Adopt a homeless animal instead - they all deserve a second chance

It's estimated that 130,000 dogs and 60,000 cats are killed every year in Australia because there are not enough homes for them all. And the global numbers amount to millions upon millions every single year.

Puppy mills are a major contributor to the terrible problem of overpopulation. Puppy mills are essentially 'dog factories' where dogs are forced to churn out litter after litter, with no thought for the welfare of the dogs and all thought for profit. The dogs live in appallingly dirty, cramped conditions all their lives, and when they no longer serve their purpose they're killed, dumped or sold to vivisection laboratories.

Petshops fit into the picture because puppy mills are generally where petshops get their animals from. Furthermore, having animals in shop windows encourages impulse purchases, and adding an animal to your family should be a conscious, careful decision - NOT one to be made while shoe shopping.

Breeders contribute enormously to the tragic statistics above too. And it doesn't matter whether they're professional breeders or backyard breeders, and whether they breed for profit or not, because while there are homeless animals sitting on death row in shelters, any and all animal breeding is utterly irresponsible.

Now, here's where you come in. You can either be part of the problem or part of the solution. You can either buy animals from puppy mills, petshops or breeders and be part of the problem. Or you can adopt from a shelter or rescue organisation and be part of the solution.

If I haven't convinced you, visit your local shelter to see the homeless animals. Let their innocent faces convince you that adopting is the only responsible choice to make.

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