No one type of activity is suitable or enjoyable for every dog. What works for one, may not work for another. Although it might seem helpful to push an animal out of his comfort zone in an attempt to have them gain strength or added flexibility, it is usually better to allow their bodies to do what they were built to do. A safer bet is to look at the animal’s physicality to determine the best form of exercise.
There are two classes of canine that are particularly adverse to certain types of intense exercise. The first are those with long bodies and short legs, like Dachshunds and Corgis. These dogs are prone to back injuries, so activities that require jumping and twisting are not generally recommended, since exercise should never strain the animal. The second are dogs with short noses such as Pekingese and Bulldogs. They are what is called brachycephalic, or “breathing challenged,” and heat intolerance is typical. In the event owners put their dogs with these types of inherent respiratory limitations through strenuous exercise, especially for long periods of time on hot days, the animal could have difficulty breathing.
While certain exercises must be ruled out for particular canines, others, like retrievers, are natural “athletes.” Not surprisingly, these dogs love to run and as the name suggests, retrieve. Amazingly, even blind retrievers have been known enjoy a game of fetch. They are also known to be great swimmers. Herding-dogs, who were bred to work in constant motion, are great running and bike riding companions. Whippets and Greyhounds, on the other hand, who were developed for short bursts of speed, are more suited to short intense, interval-like training.
When considering what type of exercise is best for your dog, size isn’t always the most important factor. For example, the Jack Russell breed is suited for in-home service while the Pug, a dog of almost equivalent size, is meant for walking.
Breed, size, and background can often provide us with key insights into what exercise is best for our pets, but it’s always important to remember that appearances can be deceiving.