It’s no secret that exercise is an essential part of keeping your dog healthy and fit. Whether it’s playing fetch, taking your furry friend for a walk, or letting them run around and play at the dog park, dogs of every age and size should engage in physical activity daily.
Exercise tones your pup’s muscles, boosts their metabolism, and helps them maintain a healthy weight. Just as with humans, dogs who do not get enough exercise run the risk of becoming overweight and developing obesity-related illnesses down the road like arthritis, diabetes, and heart disease.
In addition to keeping your pup physically healthy, exercise can also help burn off excess energy and curb bad habits. Oftentimes, dogs that don’t get enough activity and mental stimulation become bored and turn to destructive behaviors, like barking, digging, or chewing, as a way to expend pent up energy. There’s even an old saying, “a tired dog is a well-behaved dog.” Yep, if only you had known that a walk around the block could have prevented Fido from shredding the cushions of your brand-new sofa.
But do you ever find yourself wondering, “how much exercise does my dog need every day?” Well, that’s not always an easy answer. Factors such as age, breed, overall health and environment all come into play when determining the exercise needs of your dog.
Below, you’ll find a general guide on how much exercise your dog should be getting based on life stage and breed. However, it’s important to remember that every dog is unique. So, before you start a new exercise program, you should always consult with a vet and tailor your exercise program to your pup’s individual needs.
Exercise By Age
Your dog’s age is the first thing you should take into consideration when figuring how much and what type of activity your dog needs.
How Much Exercise Do Puppies Need?
Puppies are notorious for having lots of energy that comes in short bursts. At this age, puppies are growing non-stop and their frequent bouts of playfulness are typically followed by long naps. If you’ve seen your pup race around the house like a maniac with the “zoomies," then collapse into a pile and fall asleep, you know exactly what we’re talking about.
When it comes to exercise, too much physical activity can be hard on a puppy’s developing body. So, it’s best to give your puppy several short exercise sessions per day. According to the U.K. Kennel Club, “A good rule of thumb is a ratio of five minutes of exercise per month of age (up to twice a day) until the puppy is full grown.”
Great forms of exercise for a puppy include playing fetch with a toy or going for short walks outside. As you spend more time with your pup, you’ll be able to gauge their energy levels better and see if they’re getting the right amount of activity.
How Much Exercise Do Adult Dogs Need?
While adult dogs don’t require the same amount of attention and supervision as puppies, they still need to get adequate exercise every day. Most dogs require anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours of physical activity based on their breed and health conditions.
There are all sorts of ways you can incorporate exercise into your dog’s daily routine. Long walks, jogging, hiking, playing fetch, swimming, and running around with other dogs are all great ways to get your pup moving. If your adult dog has a medical condition, make sure you talk to your vet about appropriate activities that will help your dog stay healthy without causing discomfort.
How Much Exercise Do Senior Dogs Need?
Most dogs tend to slow down with age, so senior dogs typically don’t require as much exercise as adult dogs. You should still take your furry friend for daily walks. However, you might want to decrease the pace and distance to accommodate your dog’s aging body.
If your dog suffers from arthritis, swimming can be a great alternative to taking walks. Hitting up the pool for a doggy paddle will help your senior pup stay active and get the exercise he needs without putting stress on the joints and causing pain.
Exercise By Breed
In addition to your pup’s life stage, the breed of your dog also affects how much exercise they should be getting daily.
Herding and Sport Dogs
When it comes to dogs in the Herding and Sporting groups, there’s almost no such thing as too much activity. These pups, which include breeds such as Border Collies, Golden Retrievers, and German Shepherds, have lots of energy and high exercise requirements. It is recommended to give them at least 60 to 90 minutes or more of high-intensity activity every day.
If you’re looking for activities that go great with their personalities, jogging, hiking, swimming, flyball and agility workouts are all great options. These dogs also tend to get bored quickly and need lots of mental stimulation. So, it’s not a bad idea to exercise their brains with frequent training sessions and puzzle games.
The terrier group, which includes breeds like Jack Russells, Wheatons, and Fox Terriers, tend to be feisty, energetic dogs that also require a great deal of exercise. It is recommended to give these dogs at least one hour of physical activity per day. Since many of these pups tend to be on the smaller size, you can tire them out by letting them run around the backyard, chase after balls, or go for long walks.
The Hound group includes a wide range of hunting dogs with varying exercise needs. Scent hounds, like Bloodhounds and Beagles, are energetic dogs with high activity needs. It is recommended to provide them with at least one hour of exercise or more each day.
On the other hands, sight hounds, such as Greyhounds and Whippets, are not as active and tend to release bursts of energy in short intervals. It’s best to provide these types of dogs with short, high-intensity activities such as sprinting workouts.
Toy and Giant Breeds
Dog breeds that fall on the outer ends of the size spectrum tend to be less active. Toy dogs, such as Poodles and Maltese, should get a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise each day. Giant breeds, such as Great Danes and Mastiffs, also tend to be less energetic and require 30 to 60 minutes of daily physical activity. A game of fetch or a walk around the neighborhood is perfect for these groups of dogs.
Brachycephalic dogs are breeds with flat faces and short muzzles such as Pugs, Shih Tzus, and French Bulldogs. It is very common for these squishy faced dog breeds to have partially obstructed airways that cause breathing and respiratory issues.
As a result of this, brachycephalic dogs tend to have shorter bouts of energy and lead pretty low-key lifestyles. While it is still essential for them to get exercise in the form of walks or playing, it’s important to take it easy as they are at risk for oxygen deprivation and overheating.
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