par Lynn Shapiro
, Writer | September 11, 2009
* While many dogs like catching flying discs, be careful to keep the throws low to avoid injury to joints from higher leaps. Herding breeds, such as border collies and Australian shepherds, are dogs that perform well competitively, but there are many other pure and mixed breed dogs that perform equally well.
* Medium dogs, especially herding breeds, are good at agility activities. "That's not to say that big or small dogs can't do agility activities, but the herding breeds, overall, are at the top in these competitions," Nelson said.
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* If you like playing fetch with a dog, then a retrieving breed such as a Labrador or golden retriever may be your best candidate. While retrievers are usually best at activities like fetch, many dogs enjoy playing fetch with tennis balls, racquetballs, toys or sticks. Playing fetch indoors with your small breed dog is often a viable option; you could run the risk, though, of enthusiastic, unintentional damage to the inside of your house if you try this with a larger dog.
* Swimming is a non-joint stressing exercise for dogs, just as it is for people. It is a great option during the hot summer months when heat exhaustion is a concern. Retrievers are at the top of the pack for this activity.
* Dogs also need mental exercise. Breeds such as border collies need a lot of mental stimulation to keep them happy. Activities to consider are searching for hidden items, laser light chasing or completing special tasks.
According to Nelson, health concerns to be aware of when exercising with your dog include:
* Make sure your dog is in shape before doing long or intense workouts. If you want to do a longer distance run, you need to build your dog up gradually to the longer mileage.
* Dogs need to get acclimated to hard surfaces, whether they are going out to walk, run or go hunting with their owners. "If they have been on soft grass in the yard for an extended period of time, and then run on gravel or cement, they may tear up their pads," Nelson said. "Be mindful also in hot weather that your dog may suffer from burns to the pads from hot cement or asphalt."
* All dogs are at risk for overheating. When it's hot, the heat, especially combined with humidity, makes it easier for the dog to succumb to heat exhaustion. Be especially cautious with dogs with short noses, like bulldogs and Boston terriers, because they can't cool themselves as effectively as other dogs due to the conformation of their noses. Dark-haired and long-coated dogs also are at higher risk. If during exercise your dog starts acting woozy, gets a dark red-colored tongue or gets thick ropy saliva, you should stop immediately and get it in a shaded area. Offer water and hose it down with cool water if necessary. For more severely effected dogs, wet them down with water and then take them to a veterinarian immediately.