Are You Walking Your Yorkie Like a Great Dane? Tips to Keep Your Breed Healthy

Like people, all dog breeds are unique and some require more walks than others to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
08/27/2010 01:44pm ET | Updated November 17, 2011
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Every dog has its day, but daily exercise is the best way for all dogs to stay healthy and happy. When your dog greets you with its tail wagging, this doesn't necessarily mean your four-legged companion is simply happy to see you -- rather it really wants to go outside for a long walk! Dogs are hunters, walkers and travelers by nature, and your dog instinctively wants to be outside smelling nature and the environment, not just the backyard.

If your dog experiences a lack of exercise, it can lead to instability. Some common symptoms that your dog isn't getting enough walks are hypertension activities like excessive chewing, barking, howling and compulsive behavioral patterns. Remember, just letting your dog run around the backyard is not all the exercise they need!

There are certain steps to remember when walking your dog. First, be sure your pet is beside you or behind you, but never in front of you. Your dog should never walk you! If you play Follow the Leader and let your dog rule, allowing it to go first, this only signals to the dog that it's in charge.

Encourage your dog to walk beside you by reinforcing the positive walking experience with intervals of their favorite treats. Positive reinforcement creates a reward system for when your dog is walking properly. Try calmly speaking a special name/command when giving the treats instead of barking the usual commands, like "No" or "Heel."

Since 25 to 40 percent of dogs are overweight, it's important to consult your veterinarian on the healthiest food options to keep your pup energized and ready to walk. A healthy diet is just as important as exercise, but when it comes to dog nutrition, size does matter! Parents of pint-sized pooches will be happy to learn that veterinarian recommended Hills Science Diet has taken this into consideration, launching its Small & Toy Breed dog food that's specifically formulated to keep small dogs' immune systems strong and energy levels up, two steps toward a healthier and happier life!

When using a leash, make sure you give your dog just enough leeway, but not too much. The key to striking this balance is using a looser leash as a walking guide. If you pull on the leash too tight or often, your dog will counter-pull, creating a polarizing game of tug of war instead of an enjoyable walk through the park. When choosing a collar and leash, do your homework to find out which brand best suits your dog's needs. There are many shapes and sizes displayed throughout the pet market, so ask a trainer, as different breeds have varied temperaments and energy levels. A referred and perfect fitting leash and collar brand is the best way to go instead of winging it.

Dog walking is great exercise for people as well as pups, with benefits for your mind, body and soul. You get quality time with your pet, fresh air in your lungs and a happy glow from being a good pet parent. Take advantage of these dog walking perks and slip on a pair of Sketchers Shape Ups. With a unique design that recreates the sensation walking on soft sand, they help tone your muscles, burn calories and get a good workout alongside your furry friend.

Like people, all dog breeds are unique and some require more walks than others to maintain a healthy lifestyle. For instance, active breeds from the sporting, herding, hound and terrier groups, and any mutt mixtures of these breeds, require longer daily walks. Also take the age of your dog into consideration -- you certainly will find that a one-year-old puppy will be more active than an older 18-year-old dog. When in doubt, always research or consult your veterinarian before beginning a new walking routine with your dog. The following are examples of specific breeds' walking papers:

The Bulldog is a high level canine full of energy that needs frequent, moderate and regular walks, preferably in an open air environment. A good walking routine would be 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the afternoon. If your schedule doesn't permit two walks a day, then one 20-30 minute walk is optional. Take into consideration that Bulldogs have shorter nostrils and windpipes that can lead to breathing problems and heatstroke. Be careful not to overexert your Bulldog, as this can quickly lead to health problems.

Labrador Retriever
Labrador Retrievers have the spirit of a puppy, but the body of a full-grown canine until the age of three. They mature quickly physically, but not mentally! This breed is very excitable with tons of fun energy. Labs definitely require at least two 20-30 minute daily walks. A heavy duty leash, collar and possibly a harness is necessary as Labs have very strong upper bodies, especially the neck and shoulder area. Your rambunctious Lab will mellow with age, so enjoy the younger years as this memorable time passes by quickly.

The Maltese is a slow starter when it comes to taking regular walks, and physically needs to build up to a walking schedule and routine. Dog guardians of the Maltese should wait until after your pup is older than eight months old to begin daily walks, preferably twice a day for 15-20 minutes. You must let those little white furry legs fully develop. If you're considering entering your purebred Maltese in dog shows, daily walks definitely improve their muscle tone and enhances your dog's chances of becoming the svelte winner.

Portuguese Water Dog
Your Portuguese Water Dog is one medium-sized excitable canine that thrives with daily exercise. Portuguese Water Dogs appear full-grown after a few months, but their actual muscle development doesn't catch up to their frame until around 18 months old. This breed requires walking less than a mile at a time and should be walked (your lifestyle schedule permitting) three or four times a day. Portuguese Water Dogs can be a bit unruly and love to playfully roughhouse, so a leash and training treats are a must have!

Before you can figure out your mutt's best walking routine, you have to try and figure out the breed combination of your mutt! This can be a tricky endeavor and asking your vet or trainer to help decipher this canine code might help you avoid hours of frustrating research time. Let's say your mutt is a German Shepherd/Border Collie combo. You're in luck, as both require lots of daily exercise, at least two 20-30 minute walks. The catch here is that a German Shepherd is easier to discipline than the more curious and social Border Collie. Walking a mutt will certainly keep you on your toes....

1. Depending on your pet lifestyle, walking your dog two to three times daily might not be a realistic endeavor with a busy soccer mom or CEO schedule. It's up to you to ensure your pet gets the proper amount of walks daily. Enlist your significant other, friend, family member or dog walker to find a mutually agreeable dog walking schedule for your pampered pup.

2. Your dog's walking requirements will change as your canine friend ages. Older dogs need regular exercise to maintain body weight, cardiovascular strength and oxygen flow to the brain, lungs, liver, kidney and heart. Moderate exercise also helps delay the degeneration of joints that are affected with osteoarthritis.

3. Climate is an important factor to take into account when walking certain different breeds of dogs. Every dog has a unique constitution, and some breeds excel in warmer climates while others melt. For example, those cute Pugs with the funny mugs flourish in cooler temperatures, but will easily tire when taking long walks in hot and humid environments.

4. When walking your dog, be prepared. Your dog will inevitably want to get territorial, so a pooper scooper, plastic bag or newspaper is a must-have with you at all times to clean up after your dog. Besides, you don't want one of those stinking fines for not picking up after your dog!