How can I get my dog to exercise?
(Q) I rescued my dog, Jack, seven years ago when he was a stray. I noticed he’d gained a lot of weight. I decided more exercise was needed, but he hates it. He doesn’t enjoy playing with toys or taking walks. How can I get him to exercise? Cutting down on food doesn’t work, as he is an outside dog and my other four dogs have plenty of food set out for them.
(A) Vet Roberta Baxter says: Firstly, you need to make sure there is no health-related reason for Jack’s weight gain and unwillingness to exercise.
I would advise a full check-up at your vet’s, and blood tests and further investigation of his heart, metabolism, and joints might also be necessary.
If he is otherwise healthy, then he will only lose weight with less calorific intake and more exercise.
Feeding him separately to your other dogs might be a good place to start, and you might need to consider giving him a calorie-restricted diet in several small meals daily.
As soon as he loses some weight, you may find that his willingness to exercise increases. In the meantime, try to encourage several short walks a day, within his capabilities.
(A) Trainer Elizabeth Kershaw says: Firstly, consult your vet about Jack’s health. I would suggest that a full thyroid panel is carried out. Get his heart condition checked while you are there.
Jack’s disinclination to exercise might be due to his age or even the onset of arthritic joints.
If he finds exercise painful and is otherwise in good health, look into swimming as a non-weight-bearing exercise.