Exercising Your Dog

Love Dog

 In This Chapter

  • Figuring out how much exercise your dog needs
  • Finding fun activities to do with your dogHup, Two, Three, Four: Good Manners and Basic Training, and apply them to this situation as follows:

    1. Have your dog heel with you as you push your bicycle.
    2. When he’s working well, get on your bike, but keep your feet on the ground to move it.
    3. When your dog is walking nicely at your side, get on the bike and pedal slowly.
    4. Gradually increase the speed as your dog performs well moving with you.

    Make sure your dog stays on the side of you that is away from the road. This will prevent his being hit by a car if he suddenly lunges outward. You can buy a product that will safely tether your dog to your bike. It’s a metal bar that attaches to the bike with a hook on the other end to affix your dog’s leash. This will keep your dog with you, while also keeping him a safe enough distance from the wheels.


    There isn’t a product available that will keep your dog watching you instead of wanting to socialize with the neighbors’ dog as you go by. Your mixed-breed dog must learn to remain with you regardless of distractions. This takes obedience training (see Chapter Hup, Two, Three, Four: Good Manners and Basic Training). You might want to begin with walking and running prior to bike riding, to prepare your dog for remaining with you regardless of your pace.


    While you ride your bike or run on a hard surface, your dog is running on that surface — barefoot! Without the benefit of booties your dog might injure his pads. I highly recommend a pad conditioner (just a cream that you can rub on your dog’s pads) along with some type of pad protection.


    Many dogs enjoy this game, and it doesn’t take a whole lot of effort on your part. When you develop a routine of playing fetch, you can teach your mixed-breed dog a variety of themes on the game. Here are a few suggestions:
    • Fetch a specific toy.
    • Find and fetch a toy.
    • Go find a person.
    • Fetch a toy and place it in a box.
    • Fetch two toys at the same time.
    If your dog is not into fetching, you can entice him into it. Any dog can learn to point out something, if it has positive benefits. The following steps teach your dog how to target (touch something with his nose):

    1. Take your dog’s favorite toy and place a treat on it.

    2. When he goes to get his treat, make a specific noise, such as clicking a clicker, or saying “Yes!” in an enthusiastic tone of voice.

    3. Repeat Steps 1 and 2 three times.

    Now your dog knows something good comes from touching that toy. He’ll go touch it without your having to put a treat on it.

    4. When your dog goes to touch the toy, the moment your dog touches the toy make the same noise as before and give him a reward.

    5. Repeat Step 4 three times.

    6. Move the toy to a new location and repeat these prior steps.

    You can play this game with any number of objects and can even turn into a retrieving game. It’s merely a matter of gradually increasing your criteria prior to giving your dog his reward. For example, you reward him for touching, and he quickly understands that concept. Next you hold out for him to actually put his mouth on the object before making that specific noise and rewarding him. Follow this with not rewarding until he actually picks up the object. In small steps, you can easily teach most dogs to accomplish any behavior you want. And your dog will love the challenge of learning to do what you’re asking.


    Hiking is similar to walking, but unlike a walk, where you’re likely in your neighborhood, on a hike, you and your dog head out into the woods or mountains. You may not be able to count on hiking every day, depending on where you live and what your schedule is like, but it can be a great addition to your dog’s exercise routine.


    Before you leave for your hike, make sure you’re familiar with the canine-related rules for the area. Most state parks require dogs to be leashed. Regardless of where you go, always have a leash with you in case your dog becomes unruly or more interested in chasing squirrels than listening to you.

    A couple more items you’ll want to pack are a collapsible water bowl and a bottle of fresh water. When dogs exercise — and you can be sure your dog will be getting a lot of that while hiking with you — they need to drink lots of water. Many lakes, streams, and rivers are contaminated with bacteria, so you want to make certain that your mixed breed isn’t drinking from them. If you give him a fresh water supply before, during, and after your hike, you shouldn’t have to worry about him looking for water elsewhere.
    Carry a few treats with you so that every time your dog looks and/or returns to you of his own accord, he gets a reward for doing so. This will tend to keep him closer to you and less likely to run after other hikers.
    If you’ve been hiking for some time and your dog is just starting to go with you, you’ll need to gradually increase his tolerance to the exercise. Dogs will keep going until they drop, so be aware of signs showing that he’s getting tired. These include
    • Heavy panting
    • Lying down whenever you pause
    • Droopy eyes and ears
    • A slow pace
    Be sure to check his pads when you take a break. He doesn’t have the benefit of hiking boots like you do, and you may be crossing rocky terrain that can easily slice his pads. Have a small first-aid pack handy (see Chapter Not Just for Purebreds: Showing Off with Your Mixed Breed), just in case.


    Most dogs love to swim and can do so naturally. Even those who don’t enjoy bathing, may still like wading in a creek or along the shore of a lake or ocean. If your mixed breed reliably listens to you off-leash, he can safely go swimming. You can make it even more enjoyable by throwing some floating toys into the water for fetching games. Remember: Your dog will prefer to play games with you rather than just swim around.


    Swimming can be a great way for older dogs with arthritis to get exercise. They get a workout without the impact that walking brings with it. Some vets even recommend water therapy for dogs who are arthritic. All the more reason to get your young dog interested in the water — that way, as he ages, you can make swimming an even bigger part of his exercise routine.

    Ahoy, matie! Boating with your mixed-breed dog

    Few dogs wouldn’t like to sit at the bow of a boat with their noses to the wind. Watersports are very popular and lots of fun if your mixed breed can participate. Several kinds of watersports can be dangerous for your dog, so take the appropriate precautions. Some people like to ride with their dogs on Jet Skis. Although it looks like a lot of fun, there’s no safety net at all, and you can’t concentrate the way you should if you’re worried about your dog falling off. Another activity to be wary of is sailboating. Because sailboats usually tilt on their sides when the wind hits the sails, a dog can easily slide off and into the water.
    Regardless of the type of boating you do, make sure your dog is wearing a flotation device. Dogs are usually good swimmers, but strong currents, waves, the wake of other watercraft, and undertow can all be dangerous for your dog — a canine life vest is essential in case of emergency. And because you never know when an emergency may strike, put the vest on your dog while you’re still on dry land, and keep it on him until he’s safely back.
    When you can’t have your hands on your dog, he should be securely contained either below deck or within a seating area where he can’t get his feet up on the side rails or put his nose over the side. He’ll appreciate the wind in his nose, but saltwater won’t be as pleasant.

    Horse and hound

    Horse and hound is one of my all-time favorite activities — and it’s great exercise for a dog! I love riding horses, and having my dogs with me during our adventures makes them extra special. Horses and hounds have been hunting together for millennia, so there’s no reason why your mixed breed can’t learn how to respect the horse, watch the horse’s leg movements, and listen to your requests at the same time. Dogs are great at multitasking, especially when it means a long run through fields and woods.


    Before taking off in a run, you’ll need to acclimate your dog to horses. Horses are prey animals, and dogs are predators, so you have to teach your dog to control his natural instincts and to listen to you from a distance as well. The guidelines in Chapter Hup, Two, Three, Four: Good Manners and Basic Training will help you train your dog so that participating in horse and hound is fun and safe for both the hound and the horse.

    by Miriam Fields-Babineau

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