Linda Arndt ~ Canine Nutritional Consultant

The Importance of Proper Exercise

Laying The Foundation

It is our collective experience and our opinion, that the majority of growth problems, poor conformation, lack of soundness and bad movement are normally due to a lack of free exercise in the early stages of development - under 8 months.

Yes, proper exercise at the right stage of development, can effect the overall condition and structure (conformation) of an animal, just like diet can alter the structure of an animal. (See Growth Problems In Puppies Part 1-3 ).Fast development in bone structure without the muscle development at the same time,makes for straight angles and racy looking dogs.

Crates are an important part of the care and training of a dog, but without ample "free" exercise throughout the course of a day, the muscle development that is necessary for good movement/soundness, will never be there if the foundation is not laid in the first 8 months. As a dog matures, he may get a layer of fat, but that is not muscle mass and it does not perform the same in the ring when you dog is exhibiting movement.

The same is true for keeping dogs in kennel pens, even in large kennel pens, if the dog can't stretch out and run at full speed at least daily, the animals movement, soundness and form of the animal can be greatly compromised. Many poor croups are do to the animal spending more time with his rear tucked under him in a small space than one that can step back and stretch out to move. We often remark about animals we see ringside, that structurally they look as if they should move well, but don't, because these animals live in a crate or a kennel pen.

Most breeders are afraid to their dogs exercise for fear of injury, but most injuries are due to the fact that there is no strength of muscle to support the large bone and fast development on a growing dog. It is important to let appropriate size/age dogs exercise together to help prevent seriously pulled muscles, cartilage or disc damage. Littermates are ideal, if you are a breeder. The best combination is two puppies to a space where they can have free exercise in a fenced area. In younger puppies, several in a litter are fine to play together, but in older puppies, two is best, and three can cause problems, leaving one being picked on all the time and more apt to be injured.

Free Exercise, does not mean jogging and it does not mean forced road work.

Free Exercise "MEANS" your dog has plenty of fenced yard to play in and act like a dog. We crate our puppies at night, and even at times during the day when we have to be gone from the home, but the rest of the time they have the option of running and playing outside in a large space where they can stretch out and run which builds proper bone and muscle mass.

For a proper diet for growth see Blackwatch Puppy Feed Program and Guidelines with a list of better foods.

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