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How Active Are You?

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We have all marveled at the energy of puppies and kittens who slow down only to eat and catch a nap. But it's one thing to watch them; it's quite another to be responsible for their fitness and dietary needs.

We have all marveled at the energy of puppies and kittens who slow down only to eat and catch a nap. But it's one thing to watch them; it's quite another to be responsible for their fitness and dietary needs. Energetic pets can be far more time-consuming then their laid-back relatives.

With more than 500 dog breeds in the world today, it is a good idea to consider your lifestyle before becoming a dog owner. Exercise or playtime is of prime importance. A walk on a leash will not suffice for energetic dogs. They should be allowed to run, chase balls or sticks, and for the very wiry ones, you can hit the balls with a tennis racquet to send it further. Two dogs will exercise each other and tire each other out with games of chase.

If you don't have time to provide all the physical activities your energetic pet requires, consider doggie daycare. There, they play and interact and go home tired after a fun day. Because some of these dogs can become aggressive, obedience training is a must and should be started when the pup is between three and six months old. Many of these energized guys have a mind of their own and it is up to you, the owner, to be sure they know who is boss from a young age.

The terrier group, as well as Afghan hounds, Australian shepherds, miniature and toy poodles, Dobermans, Chihuahuas, pointers and setters are noted for their lively, almost hyper characteristics. Breeds such as bulldogs, dachshunds, pekinese and pomeranians, do not require the same amount of time for exercise; a morning and nightly walk will usually suffice, so you might consider one of these breeds if you enjoy a quiet lifestyle.

The diet you are providing should also be considered. Often a high-energy pet requires more calories than the mellow dog. Meals should be fed twice per day, and it is wise to feed either a home-cooked diet or a quality food that contains human-grade ingredients. Richard Hill, DVM, PhD, assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Florida, advises that active dogs "generally need a food in which fat makes up more than 50 per cent of the energy in the diet to help increase stamina and maximize energy production." This is especially true if your dog is involved in high level sports or training programs that average more than 20 minutes a day of strenuous exercise four or five times per week.

If you work full-time, you might consider getting a cat rather than a dog. Again, some cat breeds, like dogs, are much more energetic than others. A Persian is happy to curl up and sleep when you are away, while a Siamese can think of a thousand things to get into and even more places to investigate. With energetic cats, I've found that a walk in the morning and evening calms them down during the day, and most adapt very well to walking on a harness and lead. As with dogs, two cats can spend hours exercising each other, and toys can keep them busy for hours.

People often never consider what they are getting into when they buy a pet, dog or cat. The first thing I advise is to consider your lifestyle and the time you are willing to spend on and with your pet.

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