Let me begin by stating that walking your dog is not a complete exercise regimen. At best, it is a way for you to get out of the house and for your dog to go to the bathroom. So, for those of you who own Rottweilers, German Shepherds and other working breeds, let me see if I can give you a fresh viewpoint on the subject of exercise and health.
It is a known fact that most people do not exercise themselves enough on a daily basis. Just take a look at yourself in a full length mirror if you don’t agree. Now, do you think a dog is any different than a human in this respect? Over the life of the dog, proper and adequate exercise, diet, training and socialization have a tremendous impact on its longevity and well being.
I’m not going to get into any general statements about what was done elsewhere to draw this conclusion. After over a decade of raising working dogs (Rottweilers, German Shepherds) I can intelligently conclude that these type of dogs require daily, constant, hard exercise to stay in shape, develop good muscle tone, properly digest and metabolize food, keep vital organs oxygenated and live long, healthy lives.
I have always wondered why pet owners will sometimes have a multitude of issues with their dogs, mostly health related. I used to think it was due to poor diet alone, but I no longer subscribe to that idea. Taking a look at my own dogs, mostly kennel dogs and bitches, I have observed that without exception, they are healthy, in shape, high energy and long lived. The average life span of one of my dogs is 11 years old. Yet, I hear from people how their dog was put down at age five or six from an assortment of ailments. Why is that?
Okay, I know I’m not doing a scientific study in the purest sense of the word and that I am not a doctor and so on. That does not make me any less qualified to look with my own eyes and draw intelligent conclusions from my observations.
So, based on my own observations over fifteen years of raising working dogs, I am concluding the following:
1. Daily exercise is vital and critical to a dog’s present and future health. This must not be limited to daily walks, as this does not help the dog metabolize his food nor does it help it develop muscle mass/tone, organ development, correct conformation, tissue, ligament and muscle growth around joints, a strong immune system, and so on. A working dog needs to have at least one good workout per day, for at least five to ten minutes, done when it is NOT too hot, and NOT just before or after eating its meal. Gauge your dog’s stamina and DO NOT OVERDO IT when beginning. Build the dog up, just like a human would build up stamina running or doing other exercise routines. In other words, get the dog in shape and then keep it there by maintaining the daily routine.
2. Obedience training, socialization and play can easily be worked into this regimen, so you can get the most out of the time with your dog.
3. Begin this when the dog is a puppy and continue for the life of the dog.
There is no substitute for proper daily exercise in the life of a dog. (Of course, this doesn’t mean that you run the dog ragged and have it stroke out either!)
Use common sense and help your dog build itself up to be the canine athlete it was bred to be.