Exercising Your Dog

Before running or starting any other repetitive exercise with your dog take the following into consideration.

Puppies and young dogs should not do any repetitive high impact, endurance exercises like sustained running until their growth plates have closed. Growth plates generally close between 14-18 months of age. “The larger the breed the later the growth plates close.” “dogs that are spayed or neutered prior to puberty experience delayed closure.”  Overuse and focused stress can damage growth plates resulting in prematurely closing of the growth plate causing a malformation of the leg.[1]   

Loose Leash Walking: Easier with Horses Than Dogs?

  • Relaxed dogs typically move from point A to point B at a trot (especially if “going somewhere” – even if that’s from the kitchen to the hallway!)

  • Dog + human – both are in different gaits. Most dogs cannot trot as slowly as the typical person walks. (Amazingly, many horses can and do trot as slowly as a human walks!)

    Loose Leash Walking: Easier with Horses Than Dogs? Suzanne Clothier



Dog(s) Health & Fitness

Many dogs are unprepared for intense endurance exercise for even short duration's making them susceptible to injuries. Injuries can go unrecognized for long periods of time. Very important you consider your dog’s fitness and weight prior to exercise. Always start with a vet check to make sure your dog is healthy AND physically capable to participate in the exercise which should include an evaluation your dog’s structure and gait for any weaknesses. Many dogs are willing to do anything we ask and often have a strong desire to participate, but we should be careful we are asking them to do more then their body can comfortably do. Be careful that you are breaking your dog's body down which will result in crippling arthritis as they age. "Your Athletic Dog" is an excellent book/DVD to understand how to condition your dog. The dog’s structure will affect their endurance and susceptibilities to injury. There are more than 25 structural issues that will affect endurance or performance. For guidance on identifying structural issues, Pat Hastings book is a great resource. Structure in Action: The Makings of a Durable Dog To reduce chance of injuries your dog will need recovery time.

Dogs that have a fulfilling life full of experiences to maintain their mental, physical, and emotional health are less likely to develop the inappropriate behaviors that are the result of boredom, stress, and frustration. Dogs commonly display behaviors out of stress, anxiety, and frustration such as, barking, jumping, spinning, chewing, among others. Boredom and loneliness are sources of excessive stress for both dogs and cats. Long-term stress reduces the immune system's ability to fight disease so it is important that stressors are reduced for our animals. Enriching Your Dog's Life


Best to ride on dirt or grass surfaces since these are less harsh then pavement or concrete on your dog. You may want to consider using a paw wax to help protect your dogs paws.


Dogs cool by panting. When air temperatures are near body temperature (101 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit) or higher dogs cannot cool themselves efficiently.  The  ground temperature can be more than 50 degrees hotter than the air temperature. Burns can result at 118 degrees. Exercise during the morning and evening hours when it’s cooler and avoid concrete and especially blacktop or pavement.   


High humidity also impairs a dog cooling ability which can also contribute to heat stroke.

Water (Hydration)

Take water and keep your dog hydrated.

Dehydration / Overheating (Get Medical Help)

  • Heavy panting

  • Tongue and mucous membranes bright red

  • Saliva is thick and tenacious

  • Vomits

  • Dry mount

  • Sticky gums

Signs of shock (emergency)

  • Lips and gums pale or gray

  • Collapse

  • Seizures

Overheating Can Cause Your Dog’s Agonizing Death Within Minutes – Yet It’s Entirely Avoidable


Urban Mushing

[1] Chris Zink; Janet B. Van Dyke. Canine Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation  

[2] Chris Zink; Janet B. Van Dyke. Canine Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation