Dogs

5 Exercises for Your Small Dog

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It's what beautiful spring days, winding paths and no-appointment afternoons were made for -- taking a run with your dog. Short legs and little strides shouldn't dissuade you from this unique bonding experience. Veterinarian and former director of the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., Dr. Lucy Spelman, agrees that running with your dog is a great activity as long as you remember it's your dog's outing. "You should be willing to stop when the dog wants to stop -- to sniff and greet other dogs and people -- even if that slows you down," she says.

Dr. Spelman cautions that overheating can be a problem, as dogs will often keep going to please their owners despite nearing heat exhaustion. Bring plenty of water for you and your running companion, especially when temperatures reach over 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 degrees Celsius).

Many small breeds are also predisposed to joint problems in their knees, hips, and carpi (wrists) -- which means they can sustain injuries after pounding the pavements for extended periods. So don't plan to break a mileage record.

To find the best distance for your small running companion, keep an eye on your dog after a run as well as the next day for signs of soreness or unusual lethargy. If you notice your dog isn't quite himself, scale back the distance.

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