I think we can all agree that dogs are amazing. Since they bring so much joy into our lives, most responsible owners want to give them the best care possible. Well, regular exercise is a big part of keeping a healthy and happy dog. But how much everyday exercise does a dog need?
Let’s go over some tips and suggestions so you can give your dog the optimal amount of activity.
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Do Dogs Need Everyday Exercise?
Yes, absolutely! Dogs are inherently active animals and they need everyday exercise. That said, it’s okay to skip a day here or there if your schedule doesn’t allow it. However, whether it’s walking or exercising dogs should engage in some form of physical activity pretty much daily. Activity is critical both for their physical health and mental wellbeing.
For example, dogs with sedentary lifestyles run the risk of developing the same diseases you see in inactive people, including:
- Heart disease
- Some forms of cancer (related to obesity)
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Also, dogs need mental stimulation so they don’t get stir-crazy. If you keep them cooped up, they’ll engage in problematic, destructive behavior. Being indoors with no physical outlets can also lead to doggy depression.
Determine How Much Everyday Exercise Your Dog Needs
Your dog’s activity requirement depends on several factors. However, their breed is a big part of the question. Some breeds are far less active and require less physical and mental stimulation. In most cases, working breeds will require a good deal more exercise.
Dogs that need a high level of activity include:
- Belgian Malinois
- Border Collie
- German Shepherd Dog
- Australian Cattle Dog
- Australian Shepherd
- Golden Retriever
- Labrador Retriever
- Irish Setter
- Jack Russell Terrier
- Rhodesian Ridgeback
Some of these breeds should come as no surprise! Although a high-energy, working dog needs plenty of activity, other dogs are more settled.
Let’s quickly go over the breeds that require the least amount of exercise:
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
- English Bulldog
- French Bulldog
- Boston Terrier
- Bassett Hound
- Great Dane
- Old English Sheepdog
- Bull Mastiff
- Chow Chow
- Shih Tzu
Of course, that’s not to say that these breeds don’t need any exercise. Your dog should always have some level of physical activity.
Sometimes, it may be best to have them do low intensity, less strenuous indoor exercise (see below for a list of ideas). As usual, pay attention to your dog’s behavior and adjust the levels accordingly.
How Much Exercise Is Needed for Puppies?
In most cases, dogs transition from being puppies to adult dogs somewhere between 1 and 2 years. It’s important to note that puppies need far less exercise than adult dogs. If your puppy gets too much exercise, you run the risk of damaging their developing joints and triggering early arthritis.
So how much exercise does a puppy need? Well, according to the UK Kennel Club:
A good rule of thumb is a ratio of five minutes exercise per month of age (up to twice a day) until the puppy is fully grown.
For example, a three-month-old puppy can go for two 15-minute walks, and a four-month-old puppy can endure two 20-minute walks.
How Much Exercise Is Needed for Adult Dogs?
A grown dog’s exercise needs to vary depending on their breed and age. Generally, somewhere between 30 minutes and two hours of exercise daily is ideal. This is where you take their activity level into consideration.
But, remember this is just a general guideline. You should always pay close mind to how your dog reacts to the frequency and intensity of exercise. If they’re having difficulty breathing or are panting heavily, then you’ve probably overworked them! If they are still hyper after a walk they may need more time or intensity.
How Much Exercise Is Needed for Senior Dogs?
Senior dogs need less exercise than both puppies and adult dogs. Precisely how much exercise will vary among dogs, so using your common sense and paying attention to their overall health is critical to deciding the exact amount.
There is no clear consensus on when a dog officially becomes a senior. When your dog’s body begins to slow down – perhaps they develop a stiffer gait or take longer to get up – it’s safe to assume they need less exercise.
If in doubt, you can always refer to this handy chart to determine your dog’s exact age.
If you notice your dog slowing down due to age, CBD may help preserve their activity levels.
For general tips on caring for a senior dog, make sure you check out this guide from the Journal of the American Hospital Association (AAHA).
If you exercise your dog too soon after feeding, they’re at risk of developing a condition known as Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV). This is just a fancy way of saying that the dog’s stomach is twisted. This condition is also referred to as bloat or gastric/gut torsion.
To avoid this painful scenario for your pup, be sure you adhere to the following:
- Wait at least two hours after feeding before you exercise.
- Wait at least 30 minutes to feed after exercise.
- Two smaller meals are better than one big one.
- Ensure your dog has a steady supply of clean, fresh water after they’ve eaten a meal.
- Try to make sure that your dog eats slowly and doesn’t scarf down their food.
If you follow these easy tips and suggestions, then you should be able to avoid any negative bloating issues and have a fun time exercising!
Outdoor Exercise Suggestions
It’s always a great idea to take your pooch outside and let them burn off their energy while they enjoy all the smells of the outside world. Outside, your dog will have the chance to interact with new environments while potentially making new friends along the way!
Hiking is an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise for your dog, especially if you hike uphill. Just be sure you bring plenty of water and avoid excessive sun exposure.
Sometimes, it’s best to let your dog run around like a complete maniac in the company of other dogs! Dog parks allow your dog to socialize and learn valuable skills for functioning in a pack. Just remember that dogs are hierarchical animals, so it’s perfectly normal for them to roughhouse a bit to establish dominance or submission.
This can be done with a high-energy, super active dog that requires more exercise than others. Plus, you’ll both be getting your cardio in, so you can “kill two birds with one stone,” so to speak.
However, your dog must be fairly well-trained and understand the “heel” command so that they don’t run under your legs and trip you up.
Not all dogs love water, but some breeds were just born to swim! These are usually hunting dogs like Retrievers, Setters, Shepherds, and some Spaniels. In fact, two of the most popular and beloved breeds of dog–Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers–were both bred for duck and goose hunting.
However, be extremely cautious when swimming in the ocean or a river–the undercurrents can be quite dangerous.
As you can see, there’s plenty of fun exercise that you can do when you take your dog outdoors. Outdoor activities are arguably one of the best parts of owning an active dog!
Indoor Exercise Suggestions
If you can’t go outdoors because of bad weather or because your dog doesn’t need strenuous exercise, then take a look at the following indoor exercise suggestions:
Find the Toy/Treat
Hide your dog’s favorite snack or toy somewhere in the house and have them look for it. Just be sure you let them sniff it first before hiding it!
This game is best done with rope toys, but be aware that it might trigger some mild growling on the dog’s part. A few rounds of tug-of-war will definitely wear your pup out! Be sure you let them win a round or two to give them confidence.
If you buy a bubble-blowing kit (or machine) that uses non-toxic liquid, then it can be really fun to blow bubbles and watch your dog go nuts chasing them around! Be sure it’s in a safe area away from furniture that can potentially be ruined or harm your dog.
Hide and Seek
This activity is a variation on the find the toy/treat exercise, except that YOU hide somewhere in the house! If your dog knows the ‘stay’ command, this activity will be loads of fun! If they have trouble finding you then call out their name to give them a vocal hint.
Indoor Obstacle Course
This can be created with something as simple as a few stacked pillows around your couch or dining table. You’ll want to be sure the obstacle course is pet-safe first. If your pup successfully completes it, make sure you reward them with their favorite dog treats!
Take your dog’s favorite toy and toss it back and forth between two family members as your dog sprints between the two of you. Dogs love this game because it engages multiple family members and keeps them active.
All of these suggestions are fun, low-impact exercises that you can easily do in the house!
Things To Be Aware of While Exercising and Walking Your Dog
The American Veterinary Medical Association suggests the following tips to keep your pooch safe during exercise:
- Teach your puppy how to walk on a leash.
- Begin with short walks, taking frequent breaks.
- Increase the length of the walk gradually.
- Avoid walks during the hottest and coldest parts of the day.
- Walk on safe footing, avoiding slippery or sharp surfaces.
- Call your veterinarian if your dog shows any signs of lameness.
- Use cold water to cool them down. Remember, dogs can only sweat through the pads in their feet, so the only way they can cool down is by panting or drinking cold water.
Additionally, owners who have flat-faced dogs (officially known as brachycephalic dogs) have to be extra careful. These are dogs like Pugs, Bulldogs, Boston Terriers, or Boxers. These breeds have the characteristic flat, smashed-up face and snout.
Because of their unique anatomy, these dogs have difficulty breathing. They can’t pant as effectively if they get too hot. Consequently, brachycephalic dogs run the risk of overheating or asphyxiating if they engage in an activity that’s too strenuous.
What Happens If You Don’t Walk or Exercise Your Dog?
As we mentioned above, dogs suffer from many of the same consequences we do if they don’t engage in regular exercise. The similarities between dogs and humans run so deep we share both negative and positive consequences.
A fascinating 2010 study from Public Health Nutrition that found obesity in dogs (but not cats) was related to obesity in their owners.
Ultimately, all the research is clear – dogs will suffer from all kinds of medical conditions if they don’t get adequate exercise. These issues include heart problems, type 1 diabetes, obesity-related arthritis, and even obesity-related cancer.
Plus, they may also engage in destructive behaviors like:
- Destructive chewing
- Excessive barking (or howling)
- Aggressive behavior
These undesirable behaviors stem from frustration or boredom due to pent up energy. Unfortunately, lack of physical exertion will eventually affect your dog’s mood. For example, canines can become depressed, hyperactive, or even aggressive if they don’t exert their energy. The evidence is clear: have an everyday exercise plan for your dog!
After you and your pup complete the workout, make sure your dog has:
- A comfortable place to rest (like a bed or cushion)
- Plenty of clean, cold water to rehydrate and cool down
- Reward them with dog treats (but wait 30 minutes before feeding them a full meal)
Other than that, it’s always best to use your common sense and pay attention to your dog’s body language or behavior. If something seems off, be sure to contact your vet right away!
Final Thoughts – How Much Exercise Does a Dog Need Every Day?
Exercise is not an option for your dog – it is an essential part of their everyday health! An owner should be aware of how much exercise their dog needs at all stages of life since the requirements change with age. It’s also crucial to consider your dog’s breed and health when deciding how to exercise them.
Exercise is one of the best ways to bond with your dog and keep them happy! Gear up and run around with your dog for a while – it’s sure to boost your mood too.
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