Over exercising dogs.
Is it possible to over train your dog? Just as it is possible for people to over train and for horses to be over trained the same can be found in dogs. Some dogs rest more easily than others and some appear to need more exercise but is longer or more frequent walks the answer? Over training can actually lead to a loss of performance and puts the dog at a higher risk of injury, depression has also been reported.
Muscles and bones need to recover after exercise and if the resting period is not long enough the body will be put under undue stress. To avoid over training the dog's exercise should be varied from day to day. The length of their walks as well as repetitiveness of exercise should be varied. Ideally give the dog at least one day off a weak. Try doing some mental training on these days rather than physical exercise. If you compete your dog then try to give them at least a month off rather than continuing training through the off season. In their quiet month do not go for longer walks just because they are not training the skills they need for their sport but instead let the body and mind relax and regenerate.
Varying the amount of training in our dogs regime is therefore important to avoid both physical and mental stress in our dogs.
Variation is key. Training and exercising your dog on different surfaces will use different muscles as will variation in your training. Try doing something different each day for example road walking, the beech, irregular terrain such as woodland, hilly walks or flat walks. If you train your dog for a sport beware of too much repetition in the exercises you do. Injuries can be caused by an accumulation of stress as well as sudden impact so vary the exercises so some muscles can recover when others engage as the primary workers.
Some dogs are easier to over train than others. Many of the working breeds will keep going regardless. They run on adrenalin and so will keep going even if they are on 3 legs. It is therefore our responsibility to stop them over exercising themselves rather than just wait for them to stop. Dogs that run on adrenalin are much more likely to injure themselves than calmer dogs with less drive. It is important when training this type of dog to be strict with ourselves and not keep pushing for perfection.
So yes it is possible to over train our dogs but by varying the exercise type, intensity and duration we can help to avoid injury.