The Value Of Exercising Your Dog Regularly

Next to the right food, the right kind and amount of exercise is probably the most important contribution to the health of your dog.

If you live in the country and enjoy your dog’s company on long walks, or like to run and play with him outdoors, Beans will get plenty of exercise. But don’t leave it up to him to get it by himself. Dogs have become so attached to human beings, and so dependent on their company, that they seem to prefer doing things with people. Unless there are other dogs around to play with, or a rabbit to chase, even most country dogs stay close to the house if left out alone. They only run and jump and walk a lot when someone whistles to them for a stroll or picks up a stick to throw.

So even if you live in the country, you should pay some outdoor attention to your dog at least a part of every day. Make him chase and retrieve a stick or a ball. After he is a year old and his bones have set, encourage him to jump over low obstacles. Talk to him as you walk. Play hideand-seek with him. Run a race with him.

Swimming is a wonderful exercise for both country and city dogs, if they can get it. Most dogs love water. They can all swim without being taught, but you should introduce Beans to water very carefully. Don’t throw him into the water the first time you take him to the beach or lake. First get him to wade by throwing a stick for him to retrieve near shore, where the water is shallow. Little by little, as you throw the stick farther out, he will find himself swimming in water that is over his head. He won’t be the least bit frightened if you have started him this way.

The same exercises that are good for a country dog are also good for a city dog. But since the city dog is likely to be of a smaller breed, he won’t need so much exercise every day. And since a city dog can seldom be allowed off his leash, safely or legally, his main outdoor exercise will be walking. You should take Beans for at least one long walk every day. Let him lead you and stop when he stops. This is his walk, not yours. Run with him on the leash. Carry a long stick and teach Beans to jump over it as he trots along on his leash. Make the outing fun for both of you.

A city dog will get his most active exercise indoors. There you can teach Beans to retrieve a hard rubber ball. You and he can play tug-of-war with an old leather belt. And after he’s full-grown, you can encourage him to jump. Here’s a good way to do that: Get a box or an old table which is not too high for the size of the dog. Teach him to jump up onto this. Hold a bit of biscuit over the table top and call him. Beans will soon learn to jump up there to claim his reward. Don’t let him jump down. The idea is that in jumping up, he makes his hind legs strong. This helps him to walk and run gracefully. Of course, Beans should be reminded that he can only jump up on his own box or table, not up onto your dining table!

If you think of exercising your pup as a pleasure and a privilege, you’ll soon invent lots of other things to do with him that will be fun, yet good for both of you.