Pets need daily exercise, plus this week’s pet of the week — Smokey |

Pets need daily exercise, plus this week’s pet of the week — Smokey

Niki Congero
Tribune Opinion Columnist
Smokey is a female kitty about 12 years old. She is in good health and loves to play, however she does not like other cats though she is good with dogs and kids. Her adoption fee has been paid! Come visit Smokey at The El Dorado County Animal Services, 530-573-7925. For spay-neuter services and other support, call the Lake Tahoe Humane Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals at 530-542-2857.
Courtesy Photo |


I frequently see young men riding skateboards or bicycles with small dogs running along beside them. How much strenuous exercise is good for little dogs and how can the dog owner know when he is pushing the dog too hard? Dogs will run really hard to stay up with their owner. How much is too much?


Concerned dog lover

Big or small, young or old, dogs need to exercise daily. While some breeds have special needs that have to be taken into account, and dogs do slow down as they age, they still need to take part in some form of daily physical activity. Without activity, your dog will become bored, frustrated and unhealthy. Exercise tones the muscles, helps the body and metabolic system to function properly, and engages the mind. Anyone who has had a dog that suffers from lack of physical activity and mental stimulation will tell you that they will often turn to destructive behaviors — behaviors that magically disappear once the dog is getting out every day.

That being said exercise needs are based on a dog’s age, breed, size and overall health. Your dog should spend between 30 minutes to two hours on an activity every day. For example short-nosed breeds such as bulldogs require far less daily exercise than hunting, working or herding breeds such as Labrador retrievers, hounds, collies or shepherds. Then there are some small breeds such as Jack Russell’s that can run and run and run.

I am personally not a fan of running small breeds while on bikes and skateboards, mainly because if you are paying attention to all the other surroundings such as traffic and road obstacles you cannot pay attention to your dog — especially if they are running behind you. Thus it is impossible to tell if your dog is becoming exhausted or needs to take a potty break.

Some signals that your pet may have overdone it include:

Excessive panting during or after the exertion

Extreme thirst

Lagging behind when they are normally in front raring to go

Any lameness or limping or a reluctance to move in ways they’re usually comfortable with

Appearing to be overtired after the exercise, or sleeping or laying down more than normal

Reluctance to go out for the walk or run

Missing cues or commands they know well

If you have any concerns about whether your dog can handle a long walk or whether you should implement an exercise plan for them, talk to your veterinarian. You don’t want to pressure your dog into doing things that are too strenuous or you could end up with bigger problems. Start slow if your dog has not been accustomed to being physically active, and observe her response, adding more activities or more mileage as she gets stronger. Your dog should be happily tired, not exhausted, when you are done exercising her for the day.


Speaking of exercising your pup, I would like to thank all who came out to the Hike for the Humane Society last Saturday! Harrah’s/Harveys Lake Tahoe sponsored the event and we want to give a big shout out and thank you to Jenny Haas, Jeff Colameco, Jackie Andrews, Darlene Winkelman, Kameron Petsche, Jeff Stearns, Candice Yaeger, Cassie Muscat, the Harrah’s and Harveys Heros Team!


It’s time again to submit your furry family member’s photos to the Lake Tahoe Humane Society’s calendar/card photo contest. Head online to and click on the calendar link, scroll to bottom of the page, fill out form and submit your image. It a fun way to support our Lake Tahoe Humane Society and help local animals in need.

Hopeful Henry is a column managed by Niki Congero, executive director of Lake Tahoe Humane Society & S.P.C.A. Submit questions or letters via e-mail to or by mail to P.O. Box PET South Lake Tahoe, CA 96158. For more information, visit SocietySPCA, Henry or LtHumaneSociety.

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