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Okay, this is something I've been wondering for a while.

Ruger is 8 mos old now, and aprox. 80 lbs and 24.5" at the shoulder. He is by no means fat, still has waist when viewed from above and ribs are not poking out but are easily palpable.

I was wondering about conditioning, as in, building up muscle tone.

Ruger does get regular exercise in the form of playing ball in the yard, or going for a walk on the bike path, or playing "chase mom" at the park. It averages about an hour and a half or more at least twice a day of *actual* play time, not including any playing he does himself if he's in the yard alone, dashing around like a mad man.

However, is there a "method" that one might use to keep a dog in good muscular shape? By this I guess I mean, does anyone do a regular routine of walking/jogging with their dog to help keep the dog lean and muscular? Or is it just "normal daily play/exercise" that keeps them in shape? A

And is Ruger too young for any kind of regular "focused exercise" like jogging (by this I mean like, walk ten mins, jog 3 minutes, walk for five, jog 3 mins, walk for five, for about 30 mins while we're walking on the bike path, and obviously working up to a longer jog vs walk time)? I typically start slow and then bump him to a brisk walk when we're walking so that it doesn't have a hard impact on his joints constantly, because he's growing, though he obviously gets some run time when we're playing ball or "chase mom".

So yes, thanks for reading this and I'm looking forward to feedback. I don't want to start Ruger on anything like this without knowing if he's old enough for it, and I know he's not going to "seal up" til at least two years old, so I don't want to do anything too strenuous and risk damaging his joints.
 

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I think dogs, like children, build up muscle mass by running around doing things they love. Otto suffered terribly from pano so he had a lot of weeks growing up where he could only play a little ball then go rest. Maybe he'd take a short walk in the morning but I had to keep him restricted so he didn't hurt himself.

He's still in top condition, every day I look at him and think his leg and shoulder muscles are bigger!

Otto walks briskly but he doesn't run other than in the yard - my knees are ruined. He's into ball. Kick the ball, throw the ball, anything to do with a ball. The dog has always got a ball in his mouth. When he takes a solid walk, we get home, he runs for his ball.
 

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Originally Posted By: SunCzarina

Otto walks briskly but he doesn't run other than in the yard - my knees are ruined. He's into ball. Kick the ball, throw the ball, anything to do with a ball. The dog has always got a ball in his mouth. When he takes a solid walk, we get home, he runs for his ball.
Boy, does that describe Lancer who is only slightly older than Otto.

Our backyard is a hill so he is doing a lot of his running up and down. And I try to take him out swimming a couple of times a month on the weekends for at least an hour or so. We fortunately do not have the snowy and severe weather so we can still get some outdoor swimming in. But I let him set his pace both with running and swimming and don't force it.
 

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When he's 18 months old, you can start slowly on a flirt pole. That's what both of mine do. It's like doggie interval training.
As long as you ease into it just as you would a human exercise program - Warming up, starting with short sessions, and cooling down afterward - it's a very healthy exercise for muscle building. Also be sure to work on soft ground: lawn, sand or dirt and keep the bait low so they don't jump too high. It's just a 6' length of PVC, a rope and a sturdy tug toy.

Flirt Pole Video
 

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A lunge whip works just as well.

Now, the best conditioning I ever had for my dog was the summer we trail road 2 x a week. The horse looked like an endurance horse & the dog and I both had a lot more muscle than fat that year.
 

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I usually wait until after 1 year old to do anything real strenuous. At this point you can "a" stamp the hips so you don't have to worry about that.
For me, the best way to condition a dog is "dirt biking". Very simply the dog runs after you as you ride around on a dirt bike. Just be careful to stay out ahead of him and not run him over.

Also, of course, regular training helps to keep him in shape.
 

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Well Meega loves her ball so we use a Chuckit which gets her running and that keeps her lean and muscular. Plus all of her regular squirell chasing and playing with friendly dogs on top of that. However, the Chuckit is great because it gets her focused and running hard and far.
 

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at 8 months old my dog could do a mile walk.
i would throw his ball for him to retrieve. i didn't
push him at all at 8 months. i slowly increased
the distance of his walks and the throwing
of the ball became longer (time wise).

my dog is 2.5 years old now. now we can walk
5 miles with no problem. we walk 2.5 miles and take
a break for 15 minutes or so. then we walk
another 2.5 miles.
 

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I like swimming them, running up hills and long hikes!
 
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