Many dogs’ ears perk up at the word “walk,” and with good reason. Exercise is essential for dogs. Not only does it prevent canine obesity, it provides good opportunities for training, socializing, and quality time. Regular exercise can also prevent or put a stop to destructive bad habits, and prolong your pup’s life expectancy.
The amount of exercise that a dog needs each day varies not only from breed to breed, but from dog to dog. Some dogs are just fine with a 30-minute slow walk, while others need up to two hours of intense exercise.
Some dogs have more energy than others within their breed; others have different limitations. When determining the amount of daily exercise your dog needs, take age, breed, health status, limitations, and environment into consideration. Focus on the needs and capabilities of your individual dog, rather than his breed.
Exercise and Behavioral Issues
Many bad habits that look like behavioral issues are actually just a lack of sufficient exercise. Boredom and a lack of physical and mental stimulation can result in pent up energy that turns into stress. If you’re not providing enough of an outlet for your dog through regular exercise, he’ll find his own methods, like digging up your yard or stirring up chaos in your house.
If Fido is constantly pestering you to play, chewing on furniture, raiding your trash cans, finding other non-ideal ways to entertain himself, he likely needs more exercise.
A dog who isn’t getting enough exercise will also be less willing to get into his crate when he needs to—a physically worn out dog will see the crate as a cozy safe space, while a restless, energetic dog will view it more like a cage.
Many of us are familiar with the mantra “a tired dog is a good dog.” If your dog is getting enough opportunities to run around and explore his surroundings, he’ll be content to quietly relax at home.
How Much Exercise Do Puppies Need?
Puppies have lots of energy, but not nearly as much stamina. Additionally, long walks can be hard on developing bones and joints. Instead of going on one or two walks with your pup, break puppy exercise up into shorter, more frequent sessions—as short as 5-10 minutes of training, walking, or playing, with plenty of time for rest in between.
A good rule of thumb is to walk your pup five minutes for each month of his life, up to two times daily. Of course, you’ll want to be sure baby Fido is fully vaccinated before going out in public, since his immune system is still developing.
Adult Dogs and Exercise
Age, breed, and health are huge factors when it comes to determining how much exercise your adult dog needs each day. After all, a Toy Poodle and a Rottweiler have entirely different needs, even if they’re the same age.
Dogs with higher prey drives, such as herding or sporting breeds, require longer durations of intense exercise. Anywhere between 60-90 minutes of running, hiking, or playing is ideal for active dogs with high energy levels.
On the other hand, toy or low-energy breeds may only need between 30-60 minutes of slow walking, or casual playing in the yard.
What About Seniors?
As dogs grow from adults to seniors, they’ll require less exercise—between 30-60 minutes. As with puppies, exercise with senior dogs should be broken up into several different sessions to avoid putting too much pressure on the joints.
Take your dog’s physical ailments into consideration, regardless of age, and accommodate accordingly. Know your dog’s limits, especially if he has respiratory or mobility issues; recognize signs of fatigue, and don’t push your pooch too hard in extreme temperatures. Along with being mindful of the risk of heat stroke on a hot day, keep in mind that cold weather can aggravate joint issues such as arthritis.
Regardless of your dog’s age, exercise doesn’t need to be limited to going for walks and playing fetch. Your dog loves variety and quality time with his favorite human, so make some time to exercise together. Don’t just leave him outside in the yard alone and call it good. Hiking, swimming, running, agility courses, and even teaching new tricks are all good forms of exercise.
If the weather isn’t allowing you to go outside, there are also plenty of ways to exercise without leaving the house: tug-of-war, hide-and-seek, and puzzle toys are all good forms of physical and mental exercise.
If you’re unsure how much exercise your dog should be getting each day, it never hurts to talk to your vet. Every dog is different, so what works for the dog next door may not be suitable for your pooch.
If exercise is a struggle for your dog due to mobility issues, you may want to invest in some extra supplements. Pet Honesty’s Joint Support Booster 3-Pack, which includes PureMobility Chews, Digestive Probiotics Chews, and Omega-3 Fish Oil, can help with joint discomfort, support a healthy inflammatory response and promote immune system health.