Exercise is the key factor determining the happiness and health of dogs. Dogs are naturally very active and playful. Their relatives in the wild spend the greatest part of the day hunting, while young animals learn the skills they need through playing, yet many dogs often spend most of their day indoors or in a garden. This makes them susceptible to obesity and growing lazy. The lack of exercise leads to boredom, which makes many dogs unhappy.

The movement of dogs is aided by their highly flexible spines: when they run fast, their entire bodies act as a sort of extension of the hind legs. The shapes of the various breeds were dictated by function: working underground, in water or on the surface all require different builds.

All dogs like to play and to move, but the type and quantity of exercise they need varies with age, type and health condition. Before buying a dog, learn about the various breeds and their optimal exercise levels. If you only have time for one short walk a day, choose a less active breed.

Along with the need for exercise, the dog’s age-specific needs should also be taken into account. Young animals should not be over-exercised, as this may have the opposite result to the one desired. The type of surface on which we train the dog also matters.

Trotting, for instance, should only be done on hard ground, but extended galloping on hard ground can damage the front paws. A hard soil may promote the formation of strong, closed paws, while soft meadow soil, deep sand or gravel or ploughed soil will result in softer feet with more open toes.

What is the best form of exercise?

Walking is the best, most complete form of exercise; it maintains the muscles and circulation. In general, dogs should get some form of exercise every day, but you should consult a vet first to find out whether your pet has any health problems that may be aggravated by exercise. The vet will also tell you what forms of movement are safe for your dog. Elderly canines with health problems or in a poor physical condition for other reasons should start with a 15-minute walk on a leash, then the time should be increased gradually. Retractable leashes allow sufficient freedom for the dog to explore the environment, yet you can hold the dog if necessary. For young, healthy dogs, walking on a leash is probably insufficient, they need free, vigorous exercise in nature, or in a larger park.

Keep in mind that if the dog moves more, or performs tasks that need a great deal of energy, they will also need food with fast-absorbed carbohydrates, such as those you can find among VitalBite dry foods.

Jogging and running are also good ways to exercise healthy, strong dogs, ensuring to do it with sufficient care. Young dogs under the age of six months should not be taken for runs, and it should also be avoided on very hot days.

Playing is one of the best ways of not only exercising a dogs body but also its mind. Playing also helps the dog learn in an enjoyable fashion that the owner is the boss. Throwing balls, frisbees, and sticks are all great ways of playing with your dog.

At the same time, playful training will develop and strengthen the muscles, benefit the heart, circulation and metabolism, too. All of that will also have an advantageous effect on the animal’s character: your dog will feel safe and become more confident, robust and brave.