Yesterday I hit the park early with Elsa, she needs to get a good run in and with the heat we had to do it early. So we were done and back before 9:00 am which was great. While we were there we met a few folks. One bunch was a Mom and her two kids and two furkids who had just returned from the dog park where there were quite a few aggressive dogs. They'd left because it was not fun. Her two were very friendly and Elsa enjoyed meeting them. After we had our fun at the park we made our way to the car not before meeting someone else though.
A lady and her seemingly very old dog. I asked how old he was and she told me "11." Some dogs look a great deal older than they actually are, I thought she was going to tell me 15 or 16 by the way he looked and moved. I then asked her what I thought was a logical question, "what's wrong with his back?" She looked at me like I had two heads "what do you mean?" The dog was walking like he had either severe hip dysplasia or some sort of really serious spinal issue. She shrugged and said that he had hot spot on his back. Hmmmm; she hadn't noticed that his movement was painful. She seemed very perturbed by my question so we head to the car.
When we came around the corner and up the street to head home I saw the woman with the same old dog on the sidewalk. The dog was lying on the ground. I immediately pulled over to ask if she wanted a ride somewhere. Nope, he was just taking a break. When old dogs take breaks like this something is wrong. This poor guy was either exhausted or in pain, probably both from watching him move.
There comes a time in a dogs life when you have to slow down. I understand that it is much harder for us, it means that we must admit that our dog is getting older. It is our job to use our head and not our heart on decisions like these. Luke has very small walks now, gone are the long marathon runs with Dad. Yesterday Luke and I hit an empty school yard, I love this time of year for this reason alone. As soon as we entered the field he gets off leash and runs like a youngster again. He runs for about 3-5 minutes and then thats it. For the remainder of the walk he trots happily ahead of me. We do a big loop around the field and were done.
It makes me sad to see dogs who are pushed beyond their limits. Whether there limit is due to age, health or being overweight it is a limit. Just watching this dog at the park move was causing me anxiety. Watching dogs is what I do and proper movement is something I have a great deal of experience with. This guy did not need a trained eye though, no he just needed someone other than his owner to notice that something was very wrong.
If a dog is young enough and fit enough then they should be out running and having fun. Elsa at this point can easily outrun her partner (my hubby). But there will come a time for her that we will have to slow it down, switch it up and change the routine. I'm all for exercise for everyone but when it hurts or is dangerous to ones health then you need to take a step back and do what is right for your dog.
I have a range of exercise rules that I follow for the dogs.
- If you are doing a highly intense workout like chuck it tosses, then less time should be spent on it.
- Moderate exercise like a jog can go for a longer length of time.
- A slow paced walk can go until your dog shows signs of tiring.
Don't use a set time for exercise allotment. You cannot expect a dog to do chuck it retrieves for the same amount of time as a nice leisurely walk. DON'T OVER DO IT.