How much exercise is too much?

We have had a lot of commotion these past few weeks with a very lengthy board & train, followed by a very short break in action to then me leaving town and having again more commotion with a friend staying at my home with her pup.

Back from my trip and now resuming our routines, I proceed to gather what is needed for the morning exercise routine for the dogs. We begin as we always do, but I notice shortly thereafter that Deuce is taking a rest after almost every retrieve of the ball.  Later on, Rio sort of bails out on our favorite game.  Huh?

I am sort of relived because I have a nasty cold and I’d much rather just stay inside so I call it a day shortly after.

I am left wondering as to what might be going on.  The dogs appear normal – no one is lame.  I do notice that they are sleeping more than usual so I concluded that they are just tired. Period.

This makes sense as I review the past weeks. Dogs, just like us, can become over stimulated physically or mentally when there are too many changes in their environment or routine. Think about how fun it is to travel yet how exhausting it all is.

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Most dogs frankly do not get enough physical exercise on a regular basis, which it is a real shame. I am often asked about this and my rule of thumb -which I read somewhere and acquired as my own because it made sense, is that we want our pups to be tired at least once a day, everyday. By tired I mean that your dog will come back home with her tongue hanging out and a happy expression followed by wanting some water and plopping themselves down for a nap!

The guidelines on how much time is required do vary from breed to breed and from individual to individual. Now, when it comes to young puppies and up to the 2 year of age marker, the guidelines on how much exercise and of what kind really matters. Before reaching full maturity dog’s skeletal system and joints are not fully formed and doing too much or the wrong kind of physical activity, such as high jumps will most definitively have a detrimental effect on this dog’s physical well-being later in life. Following your veterinarian’s guidelines on this is really important.

I would argue the same is true for too much mental stimulation. In the case of Rio and Deuce they got more of both mental and physical stimulation than their norm so as a result they spent the first day without any “canine guests” really sacked out.

I can almost guarantee, that most dogs that attend doggie daycare, come home exhausted not so much because they really get a lot of play in. I surely doubt this, as most daycares curtail too high of activity in order to keep things in check. Most likely these pups come home mentally tired because they got to be around lots of excitement and potentially for some lots of stress too 🙁

My overall recommendation is of course that we monitor our own dog’s well-being by making sure that they get to have enough of what they like in the form of physical and mental stimulation, but also remaining alert to signs of real exhaustion and a much-needed break from the action and increase of quiet time.

Be ready then to observe for any changes in their behavior or their increased (or decreased) interest in a favorite activity.  Of course, there might be other reasons behind these changes.  However, if we choose to slow down ourselves in our own flurry of activity and pay attention to the changes in our dogs we can best change a course of action peppered by yet more keen observation.  I guess slowing down the constant flow of stimuli has benefits for all but our dogs do need of our devoted attention as they might not be able to make the necessary changes to their lifestyle.