Sometimes people forget that small dogs have different needs for their care and exercise than larger breed dogs. Here’s some tips on how to keep your small breed dog happy and active.
Walking is ‘tops’ on my list for exercise for all dogs. There are added health benefits for the dog owner, too. I recommend twice per day walks. You need to be careful about the length of walk for small dogs because they may not be able to go as far as you can.
I’m a big supporter for hydrotherapy for dogs, particularly as they age or have rehabilitation needs. But, swimming is excellent general exercise for your small breed dog. Check out hydrotherapy facilities in your area for information on ‘casual’ swims (therapist supervision not required). In Christchurch, we have an excellent facility for this: Dog Swim Spa.
- Ball games – playing fetch
Small dogs can get quite a bit of exercise in by playing with toys and their owners. This is great inside exercise during the winter months – provided you have a long hallway or room for your dog to play in.
- Using the stairs
If your house has stairs or you can take your dog to work with you, using the stairs can be excellent exercise for your small breed dog. Some breeds, such as dachshunds, should not be encouraged to do lots of stair climbing because their long spine makes them vulnerable to stress and strain injuries including slipped discs. Be mindful of just how much effort a small dog may need to climb a stair designed for full-grown humans. Aging dogs with arthritis should avoid stair climbing as a major source of exercise – there are better options as described above.