One of the most common questions pet parents ask is, “How much exercise does a dog need each day?” Exercise is good for a dog’s body, just as it is for a human’s. But there are a lot of factors that go into determining how much physical activity a dog requires on a daily basis.
Here’s a look at what’s considered the right amount of exercise for dogs, including information on how different breeds need different levels of activity.
The Amount Of Exercise Needed Depends On Your Dog’s Breed And Age
It’s easy to just make a blanket statement regarding exercise for dogs, such as “every dog should get at least an hour of physical activity every day.” While there’s something to that statement, other factors should be considered, such as the dog’s age and breed. What’s right for a bulldog might not be right for a border collie.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the typical daily exercise requirements of dogs at different life stages.
- Puppies – A puppy can become hyperactive several times a day, a type of behavior commonly referred to as the “zoomies.” Once the zoomies end, the pup will quickly tire out and look for a good lap in which to snuggle. This can be an indication of how much exercise that pup needs. Since puppies’ bodies are still developing, they will typically benefit from several quick walks or exercise sessions instead of long periods of activity.
- Adults – The amount of exercise an adult dog needs will really depend on their breed. A high-energy breed, like the Yorkshire terrier, may need more activity than a basset hound. Your veterinarian can give you a very clear idea of what kind of exercise routine will work best for your particular pet.
- Seniors – Just because a dog is getting a little older, that doesn’t mean they should just lay on the couch all day. Regular exercise can help stave off weight problems, and it can also help your dog live their best, longest life. Again, your vet will be able to tell you how much exercise your senior dog needs each day.1
Consequences Of Your Dog Not Getting Enough Exercise
If your dog doesn’t exercise, they’re at risk for weight gain. Carrying extra weight can potentially lead to health issues for your pooch, particularly ones that affect the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. Staying active can assist in weight management for your pooch.
A lack of exercise can also affect your dog’s mental health. You probably don’t realize just how much your pooch loves those regular walks. It gives them the chance to not only exercise, but to also sniff around and explore their neighborhood. When a dog is bored, that dog is unhappy. That can lead to acting out in destructive ways.2
Signs Your Dog May Need More Exercise
How do you know if your pooch is getting enough exercise each day? Here are some common indications that a dog isn’t getting enough physical activity.
- Gaining weight – This is probably the most common sign. However, weight gain might not just be due to a lack of exercise. It could also be an indication you’re feeding your dog too much. Your vet can help you come up with the best combination of diet and exercise for your dog’s specific needs.
- Undesirable behaviors – If a dog doesn’t exercise enough, that can lead to destructive behaviors, like chewing up your shoes or a piece of your furniture. It can also result in urinating or defecating inside, getting into the trash can, and other problems.
- Withdrawing – If your dog doesn’t greet you as enthusiastically as they once did, or if they don’t want to interact with you as much and seem withdrawn, they might not be getting enough stimulation. Talk to your vet to see if the issue is a lack of exercise or something else.3
Mental Activity Matters, Too
While focusing on your dog’s physical health is important, don’t ignore their mental health. Here are a few reasons why this is important.
- If you’re away from home all day, your dog will probably get bored because they miss you. Keep plenty of interactive toys in your home, as well as food puzzles to help keep them occupied.
- Certain dog breeds need more mental stimulation than others, such as those in the working breed class, for example. If you have an active dog, be aware they may need a more rigorous exercise plan.
- Taking trips to the dog park, or walking once or twice a day, can provide much of the mental stimulation needed to keep your dog happy and chilled out.4
What If Your Dog Has Joint Issues?
Making sure your dog gets enough exercise is important, but when it comes to a dog with joint issues or some other condition that affects their mobility, it’s easier said than done. But it is possible, as long as you refrain from certain high-impact activities, like jumping and running. Here are a few activities that you should avoid, and others you might want to consider.
Activities To Avoid
- Running or jogging
- Agility drills or other activities
- Throwing your dog a Frisbee or encouraging them to jump for a ball or a toy. These kinds of activities can put too much pressure on the joints, and that can cause discomfort.5
Activities to Consider
- Walking on a leash – preferably on a variety of different types of terrain
- Swimming – just watch how the dog enters and exits the water
- Underwater treadmill walking
- Going to a store or restaurant that welcomes dogs6
Again, work with your dog’s veterinarian to come up with a great exercise plan tailored to your dog’s specific needs.
While it’s obviously great that you’re even considering the question of, “How much exercise does a dog need?,” take it easy if you’re beginning a new routine. Start slow, and gradually increase the length and intensity of your pet’s exercise regimen. This will help keep your dog from getting injured or overly worn out.7
When the weather is hot, try to exercise with your dog early in the morning and close to sundown, since these will be the cooler times of the day. If your dog’s tongue starts to hang out, cut the session short, and go back home.8
Talk To Your Vet
The safest thing to do when it comes to determining your dog’s best exercise program is to talk with your veterinarian. Your vet will already know any health issues that might be affecting your dog, and they’ll be able to come up with the most effective plan.
Once you start a routine, stick with it – and remember, consistent exercise won’t just benefit your beloved pooch, it will benefit you as well. Get a good plan together, and then go out and have fun. You’ll go a long way toward helping to ensure your dog stays happy and healthy for many more years to come.
Is Your Dog Bored? Try These Fun Things To Do With Your Dog At Home
How To Teach A Dog To Fetch: Follow These 5 Easy Steps
Fun Games To Play With Your Dog That Can Also Help With Training