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Exercising Giant Breeds

One of the biggest challenges when it comes to owning giant breeds is ensuring that they are getting enough exercise to keep them healthy and happy. However, too much exercise or the wrong type of exercise can also be detrimental to their health. Finding the balance can be difficult, but it is necessary to keep your giant breed in tip-top shape. Here are some tips for exercising your giant breed safely.

Start By Knowing Your Breed's Health Risks

Before embarking on any exercise program, it’s important to understand the health risks associated with your particular giant breed. For example, Great Danes are prone to hip and joint issues, so excessive jumping and sudden turns should be avoided. Newfoundlands are known for heart problems, so overly strenuous exercise can put added stress on their cardiovascular system. Knowing the potential health risks can help you tailor your exercise plan accordingly to help prevent some of the common conditions.

Start Slowly

It’s important to introduce your giant breed to exercise gradually. This means starting with lower intensity activities and shorter durations, and gradually building up over time. Overexertion can lead to joint and ligament damage, so you want to ease your dog into any new routine.

Swimming is a great low-impact exercise that many giant breeds enjoy. For land-based exercise, start with brief walks and gradually increase the length and speed. Be sure not to push your giant breed too hard too fast. The respiration rate changes when swimming, so less is more at the start.

Watch Their Weight

Giant breeds are more susceptible to weight gain, and extra weight can put extra strain on their joints and cause health issues. It’s important to watch your dog’s weight and adjust their food and exercise regimen accordingly. Keep in mind that exercise is just one part of the equation – diet also plays a crucial role in maintaining your dog’s weight.

Keep Things Interesting

Just like with humans, doing the same exercise every day can become boring and eventually lead to burnout. To keep your giant breed interested and engaged, it’s important to mix up their exercise. This can include alternate routes on walks or runs, incorporating training exercises into your routine, or trying new activities like agility training or hiking. Variety helps keep both you and your dog motivated and engaged. Activities such as scent work or mantrailing can really help with keeping the mind active without wearing out the body. The respiration rate can rapidly increase from 15-20 reps per minute when resting to 180-200 reps per minute when sniffing. It is really important that sessions are kept short when training. An alternative is taking your dog on a sniffari, where they are allowed to mooch along at their own pace taking into account the environmental olfactory information on route.

Be Mindful Of The Weather

Giant breeds can overheat easily in hot weather, so it’s important to be mindful of the temperature and adjust your exercise routine accordingly. Try to exercise early in the morning or late in the evening, when the temperature is cooler. If your schedule doesn’t allow for this, reduce the intensity and duration of exercise during the hottest parts of the day. Make sure your dog has access to plenty of fresh water, and never leave them outside in extreme temperatures.

Invest in good walking equipment! When walking or running with your giant breed, using a good harness is important. A properly fitted harness or collar helps prevent injury to your dog’s neck and spine, and can prevent them from slipping out of their collar. For giant breeds, it’s particularly important to keep an eye on the fitting as this can change rapidly when growing.

Rest Days Are Important

Just like humans, your giant breed needs rest days to recover from exercise. Allowing for rest days also helps prevent overexertion and the risk of injury. Rest days can include shorter, easier exercise sessions or even just a leisurely walk. Encourage your dog to rest and recover after vigorous exercise or activity as muscle or tendon injuries can take long periods to heel and be painful.

Consult With A Professional

It’s always a good idea to consult with a qualified professional before starting any new exercise routine. This is particularly important for giant breeds, which may have unique health concerns that should be taken into consideration. A canine physiotherapist can provide guidance on the appropriate level and duration of exercise for your particular breed. You can also be provided with a home programme of exercises to ensure the muscle mass is evenly distributed, helping prevent additional compensatory issues.

All in all, exercising giant breeds safely is all about finding the right balance. By starting slowly, mixing up their exercise routine, and being mindful of their health risks and weight, you can keep your giant breed in top form. Whether it’s a leisurely walk or a day of hiking, spending time exercising with your giant breed is not only important for their physical health, but also for the bond between you and your canine companion.

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