Dogs Won't Tell You When They've Had Enough

FOCUS ON PETS

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Always on the lookout for column ideas, I ran across several situations in my recent travels worthy of mention. In California, I saw a man exercising his dog using a golf cart. He was going a little too fast, I thought, but his little poodle obviously loved it and was accustomed to it. The dog knew to stay out of the way of the wheels.

I worry, though. So much can happen. It is hard to keep your eyes on the road and on the dog. It is probably a great way to get some exercise for a healthy dog, particularly for an owner who might have some difficulty walking.

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Mimi McKenzie knows that walking is good for herself and her dogs Sunny and ZeeZee as long as she can keep the leashes from wrapping around her.

If you are even thinking of such an activity, you must start slowly in an area where there is no traffic. Get the dog used to the noise of the vehicle and teach him to stay on one side, not too close to the cart.

You also would want to keep the leash short enough so that he could not get in front of the cart. For this man and dog team, it seemed to work terrifically.

But keep in mind that dogs should not be asked to run full speed for very long distances. The dog would be the last to let you know that he had enough. In the summer, it is important to avoid strenuous exercise during the heat of the day. And also watch the surface on which the dog is running. It could be too hot or too rough.

A person in an electric wheelchair can give the dog a pretty good workout if the dog is trained to run alongside it. Some of those chairs can move along at a pretty fast clip.

I observed a man riding a bicycle with his dog running alongside. This can be wonderful exercise for dog and human, but this particular dog was way too fat. I feared that the dog would drop dead of a heart attack. And once again, the dog would never let it be known that he had enough.

Spring is in the air and we all want to spend more time outside. We want to be hiking and biking and all of those wonderful things we can do living up in the Rim Country, and our dogs would love to be a part of all of these activities. But when we include our pets, we need to make sure that they, as well as ourselves, are physically ready for the increased activity.

With any kind of exercise, we need to build up to it gradually. The pet must be in good physical condition and body weight. If the dog is overweight, it is best to get him on a good diet program first and hold the exercise to a walk. As he sheds the pounds, we can increase the speed and length of the walks. Once the dog is at a healthy weight, you can gradually increase the intensity of the exercise.

Heat stroke is a very serious problem with dogs, primarily because they do not let us know when they have had enough. Always carry water for you and the dog and find a shady spot and rest for a while along the way.

Our dogs all need exercise. Some of us move slower, and we should have slower moving and smaller dogs. For those who want to jog or bicycle with their dog, choose one that is more active. Once you find the right exercise program that suits you and your dog, you will both be looking forward to your outings. Your dog will let you know when it is time.

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