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Everything You Need to Know About Dogs and Exercise

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Does your dog perk up at the word “walk,” or get ultra-excited when you reach for his favorite frisbee? It’s no secret that dogs are energetic bundles of fluff, and that exercise is one of their primary forms of entertainment. 

In fact, exercise is essential for your dog’s wellbeing. With physical and mental stimulation, exploration and socialization, entertainment, weight management, prolonged life expectancy, and quality time between pet and owner, what’s not to love?! 

Is your dog getting enough exercise? How much exercise do dogs really need each day? Read on to find out!

How Much Exercise Does an Adult Dog Need Each Day? 

As much as we would love to provide a simple, straightforward answer to this common question, the fact of the matter is that the answer varies depending on your dog’s age, health, and breed. Ultimately, the amount of physical activity your dog needs each day depends on his energy levels and abilities. 

For example, high-energy breeds such as Terriers, Shepherds, Retrievers, and Hounds will need significantly higher levels of exercise than toy breeds, giant breeds, or Brachycephalic (smush-faced) breeds. 

The short answer: most dogs should be getting at least 30-45 minutes of exercise each day, while others need at least an hour or more. 

For some dogs, a daily walk or two is sufficient. For others, that walk is just a starting point and is best supplemented with a game of fetch or a trip to the dog park. Unless it’s unreasonably hot outside, it’s generally better to provide your pup with more opportunities for exercise than he may need (along with plenty of water and shade), paying attention to any cues that he needs a break. 

Signs Your Dog Needs More Exercise

A lack of sufficient exercise will negatively impact your dog’s physical and mental health alike. As the adage goes, “a tired dog is a happy dog!” 

Physical activity acts as an outlet for any excess energy. Otherwise, that pent-up energy can lead to boredom, destructive behavior, and stress. 

Signs your dog isn’t getting enough exercise include: 

  • Destructive behavior such as digging or chewing—basically, getting into all kinds of mischief

  • Zoomies

  •  Constantly demanding your attention

  • Stress or anxiety

  • Reluctant to get into a crate or car. This is because for a calm, worn-out dog these can be safe, secure spaces; for an energetic dog, on the other hand, this can feel more like being trapped and confined. 

Don’t forget that mental exercise is still exercise, so be intentional about providing supplementary mental stimulation to keep your dog’s mind sharp: puzzle feeders, nose work, and teaching new tricks, for example.

Golden retriever puppy sitting in grass

Puppies and Exercise: How Much is Too Much? 

If you have a puppy, you’re familiar with the fact that he’s an adorable, rambunctious bundle of energy. While you may be tempted to jump right into fun activities and wear him out, it’s important to note that puppies have drastically different exercise requirements compared to their full-grown counterparts. 

This is because until your pup is done growing, his growth plates are soft, flexible, and more prone to injury. In other words, too much exercise can damage your young pup’s growing joints and bones. 

Keep play sessions with your puppy short and sweet, focusing on safe activities such as walking on soft surfaces, going for multiple short walks, playing a gentle game of tug of war, or wading in water.

Low-Impact Exercise for Dogs With Joint Issues 

Whether you’ve had your dog since puppyhood or recently adopted a senior dog, it’s important to be aware of your elderly pup’s exercise requirements and limitations. 

Even if your senior dog—or younger adult dog with joint issues—is slowing down, exercise is still essential. While you may not be able to go on the same adventures you used to, there are still plenty of low-impact activities you can enjoy together. 

For example: 

  • Short walks
  • Swimming
  • Nose work
  • Learning new commands 
  • Gentle play sessions, such as rolling a ball toward your dog on the ground rather than making him jump to catch it

Support Your Dog’s Joints With Pet Honesty

You don’t need to wait until your dog slows down to start supporting his joints. As long as his bones and joints are fully developed, you can be proactive by incorporating dog joint supplements into his daily routine. 

For example, try Pet Honesty’s JointSupport+ Chews. These vet-recommended soft chews are made with a blend of natural ingredients including glucosamine, fish oil, and vitamins to promote healthy cartilage and strong bones. Plus, they come in a tasty hickory bacon flavor that your pup is sure to love!