How Much Exercise Does Your Dog Really Need?

April 30, 2018

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We all know the importance of exercise for us and our dogs.  We need to keep our dogs moving and daily walks or exercise with your dogs is a necessity for long term health.  The question is not whether to exercise your dog but how much exercise a dog really needs.


The benefits of daily exercise are crucial for your dog’s mental and physical health.  And, of course, a tired, worked out dog is much more happy and relaxed that is less likely to cause havoc.


A dog’s daily exercise depends on many factors, including age, breed, physical health, injury, and environment.  As always, your vet can help recommend the amount of daily exercise your dog(s) needs.






How much exercise do puppies need?


Puppies have a lot of energy, but they wear out quickly, and don’t need as much exercise as an adult dogs. Puppies grow nonstop and take many naps, so plan on shorter bursts of energy from your puppy.


In general, puppies need several short (5-10 minutes) exercise sessions throughout the day. For a puppy, exercise could just be playing! The more time you spend with your puppy, the more you’ll be able to know when they’re ready to play and when they need a break.


A good guideline is to walk five minutes for every month of your puppy’s life, up to twice a day. Therefore, a four month-old puppy can safely go on a 20 minute walk twice a day.


Exercise for adult dogs


Breed plays a significant role in how much exercise your adult dog needs.  Of course, age and health are the two biggest factors to consider when exercising your dog, but breed is important too. The general rule is adult dogs should get a minimum of 30 minutes a day – twice a day.


Adult sporting breed dogs need more exercise than other breeds.


Some of the more active dog breed types that require more exercise include: Terriers, Shepherds, Retrievers, Pointers.


In general, an adult herding or sporting breed dog needs 60-90 minutes of exercise each day. This should include harder exercise like running, playtime with other dogs, or a hike.


Extra-active dogs may like agility exercises or even strenuous running and hiking.


Some less-active dog breed types that require less exercise include:


Toy breeds (Maltese, Yorkies, Chihuahuas)


Giant breeds (Great Danes, Mastiffs, Newfoundlands)


Brachycephalic or smushy-nosed breeds (pugs, French bulldogs,)


An adult toy or low-energy breed requires anywhere from 30-60 minutes of exercise a day. For some dogs, that means a slow walk around the neighborhood.


Exercise for senior dogs

As dogs age, their gait may stiffen with arthritis and they usually tire more easily on walks. Your senior dog might be a bit slower, but exercise is still an important part of his every day routine.  Joint supplements can help with stiffness and arthritis.


Swimming is a great exercise alternative for senior dogs, as well. Taking your dog for a swim in the pool or a lake (while wearing a flotation device!) allows him to stay active without putting further stress on his joints.


In general, senior dogs need about 30-60 minutes of exercise a day, broken into two or more sessions.


Mental stimulation is equally important as physical exercise


Mental stimulation plays a huge role in a dog’s health. Like physical exercise, mental activity wards off boredom, improves mood, and keeps your dog healthy.


All dogs can benefit from mental stimulation, but it’s especially important for dogs who are injured or are getting older.  Older dogs might not be able to do as much physical exercise, but they still need mental challenges. Mental activity can be anything from playing with food puzzles and other forms of interactive, mental play. Even daily interaction with your dog will help satisfy some of his or her mental exercise needs.


Your dog is always your guide to let you know if he or she has had enough daily exercise. If they are tired enough each day and night and seem happy to just relax after a walk, that’s always a good indicator.  Push your dog enough to be tuckered out, but not too hard that he or she gets injured.


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