That’s a question I get asked all the time. But how much exercise is actually good for older dogs? And is it even possible to make a blanket statement about this?
Clearly no! – each dog is individual
The first problem that exists in dealing with older dogs is that dog owners do not recognize when the dog is already exhausted. If you actively pay attention, you’ll see many older dogs out and about, laboriously chasing after their owners. Always trying to keep up somehow. That the dog owner adjusts his pace and runs with the dog: Missing! So there we see completely rushed and exhausted old doggies who just can’t keep up with the pace of the owner. Whether this kind of walk is healthy or even fun – the question you can actually answer yourself.
But there is another movement problem with our senior dogs
The second problem in the matter of exercise in the older dog is that dogs are hastily counted to the old iron. But only those who keep moving can also stay fit.
Yes, then he is old!
If the dog is older and you notice, he comes no longer so right with and run on the bike next to no longer works: yes then he is just old! As a result, there is only the absolutely unavoidable movement and that usually means a short pee round before the dog retreats back to his crib.
The result: he is bored to death. His mind atrophies and so does his body. He has no more condition, loses muscles, the joints rust. Osteoarthritis and other joint diseases develop. Every movement hurts. The cardiovascular system is also no longer efficient. As a result, there is simply even less movement. The dog is in a vicious circle.
But the question is, how to move old dogs properly!
The movement of the older dog can be compared very well with the movement of older people. So while it should be adjusted for age and health, it is still an important part of the dog’s daily life!
In practice, this means that daily walks are still important for your dog. And that for his body but also for his mental well-being. During your walks, make sure that you adjust the pace and also the distance, to his condition.
He should be able to keep up with your pace well and not have to rush off. So match your pace to your dog’s. Otherwise, it unnecessarily overexerts. You should adjust the duration of the walk so that it is finished before your dog is exhausted, i.e. before he is tired after a walk. Several small walks are recommended, rather than two large rounds. This also significantly shortens your dog’s recovery time. The joints are also not overly stressed.
If your dog is one of those four-legged friends who are more couch potato than active and spry senior dog – then you should change something.
Yes, your dog may and should have more rest periods. But it should also be kept agile and fit. The point is not that he stays young forever. It is about allowing him to grow older without pain and with dignity and a good quality of life.
How you can achieve this!
If you are highly motivated now, then I have to slow you down first! Such a change is achieved slowly and continuously. So perseverance is required. With a long walk – just like in the old days – around your favorite lake, you will probably soothe your conscience in the short term. But it doesn’t help your dog at all.
It is recommended to increase the walks slowly. Here I am talking about a minute-by-minute increase. So every few days, as it is well doable for your dog, one minute more per walk. If you feel that is too much, start with 30 seconds more.
This may sound silly to you.
– “You want me to stop time now?!”
Yes, that’s right, you should! Watch the clock and plan the walk to allow for a slow increase in exercise. This is the only way your dog’s body will get used to it and it will slowly but surely build up condition. In addition, I recommend that you also do something for flexibility and coordination during your walk. This also often falls by the wayside with older dogs. Not to mention a good body image.
These exercises are great for on the go:
A good place to start is with simple everyday movements like:
- Stand-up seat
- Give paw
- run slalom around bollards or tree stumps
- run hurdles over branches
The daily fitness program for home
Additionally, it really makes sense that you also do some active exercise with your dog once or twice a day at home. Just like a daily Pilates session in humans. Not only are you doing a lot for his physical fitness – and you’ll notice the training effect very quickly – you’re also creating a great ritual for you guys that your dog can look forward to every day!
You wouldn’t believe how many dog people tell me that their dogs now demand daily training of their own accord. Or they can hardly contain themselves with joy as soon as they see the training utensils.
By the way, endorphins are also released during training. This will make your dog happy. They give him joy of life and at the same time they help against pain. So for me there is no reason that old dogs are not exercised and so many dog owners just don’t bother with exercising the older dog anymore.
What’s still holding you back?
You see, I can’t give you an exact time frame for how much you can and should exercise your older dog. I can only advise you to find a healthy balance between “my dog is old” and “I just run and ignore his age”.
This is not so difficult if you develop a feeling for what your own dog is still capable of. Our dogs show us this very clearly. So a senior dog may not be able to run around the lake for two hours. But this does not reduce the quality of the joint activity. Match your exercise together and invest a few minutes a day in your dog’s mobility and fitness. It will pay off in the long run!
PS: If you want to train your older dog in a really targeted way, then I recommend my SeniorFIT online course. There you will learn active movement exercises sensibly put together in training plans that you can carry out regularly with your older dog – tailored to the physical needs of older dogs.
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PS: Are you interested in the topic of “older dogs”?
The subject of senior dogs is absolutely close to my heart. Accompanying older dogs and supporting their health needs is so important and gives them so much quality of life and mobility. If you would like to learn how to accompany your older dog well, gently and naturally in old age, then take a look at my online course portfolio especially for senior dogs.
You have questions? Then please leave me a comment or write to me at email@example.com
All the love, your Tina