Ensuring your dog gets regular exercise is one of the best things you can do for his health. The exercise factor Exercising your dog is not only essential for his health and wellbeing, but it’s also a great way for you to spend quality time together and strengthen the bond between you. And as well as helping your dog to control weight, build energy and maintain strong cardiovascular and immune systems, the exercise will help you do exactly the same! Vary your routine Helping your dog stay in shape should never be a chore for either of you. Exercise should be fun and varied – and doesn’t just have to be a long time-consuming walk. If you stick to the same routine every day your dog may become as bored as you do. Vary your walking route regularly, and try to build in some playtime. But don’t overdo things and make sure you tailor your programme to suit both you and your dog. If your dog has more energy than you do, play fetch with a ball or a flying disc. The activity will provide exercise that is both challenging and fun for your dog without wearing you out. All puppies and young dogs benefit from playing fetch. As long as they receive positive reinforcement in the form of hugs and pats (avoid using treats too much as this can lead to obesity), many dogs will gladly wear out your throwing arm! Avoid throwing sticks, though, as the wood can often splinter and damage the teeth, throat and stomach. On the other hand, older dogs will tend to prefer more refined, leisurely walks – but still try to vary the route to keep things interesting! Whatever the weather Dogs need regular exercise whatever the weather conditions. But it’s important to keep in mind that extremely weather presents extra challenges. Like us, dogs can suffer from frostbite just as we do, so if you walk your dog in the snow, wipe the paw pads to remove any snow, ice or salt that may have got caught. In summer, think about sunburn, heatstroke, and dehydration. And remember, your dog’s feet can be damaged by hot asphalt. But whatever activity you end up doing together, always remember that your dog loves to spend time with you, so make that time really special.