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How Far Should I walk my Dog?

ANSWER.  The answer to this question is not as "cut and dry" as one might think ... Because there are so many different issues to consider, the answer is a very involved one. Small dogs can receive as much physical benefit from a short walk as a large bread dog can from a two mile walk. The main thing to consider when determining the correct length of walk for your dog is first, the size of the dog you own, and then the age and overall health of your dog. Last but not least, you need to factor in the conditions that the dog (and you) will be subjected to while you are walking that day.

For instance: If you have a small dog like a Toy Poodle, you will not need to walk it as far as if you own a Great Dane. This is because the Toy Poodle will obviously become tired much fasted than the Great Dane. For the same reason, if you own an older (senior) dog, it will not require as much exercise as a 1-3 year old dog does.

It has often been stated that a 20-45 minute walk under normal weather conditions is considered to be a "healthy" walk if your dog is in good physical condition. But ABOVE ALL, no matter what kind of condition your dog is in, you need to watch your dog for signs of fatigue. If your dog is having trouble breathing, panting hard or it's pace is slowing down drastically, the walk should be terminated and you should consult your veterinarian at once.

In warmer weather, you should also carry a bottle of water with you and allow your dog to have a drink every so often so it does not become dehydrated or overheated during the walk. If overheating or dehydration occurs, your dog could suffer from cramps, muscle spasms or even death. For this reason, daily walks during the summer months should always be done when it is cooler outside. (During the early morning or late evening hours). Another reason to walk your dog during the early morning or late evening hours is that if you walk on pavement, the hot pavement is very hard on the pads of your dogs feet. (It feels the same to them as it does to you if you walk barefooted on a hot blacktop parking lot).

If you are just starting to walk a new puppy, or if your dog usually doesn't get much exercise, you should start off slowly to build endurance levels. Ad a block or two every few days until you get up to the distance that works best for both of you. If your dog has special health needs or problems, contact your veterinarian before you begin.

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