How Much Exercise Does My Dog Need?
Physical activity, something we all need for the general health and well being of our bodies. From running and swimming to lifting weights and everything in between, it is just as essential as water and food.
Our dogs are no different, they need exercise on a regular basis to promote health, strength and a long life. Exercise helps keep their bodies in shape, creating agility, flexibility, promoting better digestion and sleep. It also can help with some of the annoying habits they might have, barking a lot and chewing things like shoes and clothing when they are bored or lonely.
Determining how much exercise a dog needs isn’t a simple process with one set of rules. Every dog is different and should have a tailor-made activity plan that is both spontaneous and flexible but takes into consideration who they are as a dog.
Every dog is active by nature, they love to play sports and run around the house or yard. Their curiosity and zest for life rekindle that inner puppy regularly, whether it’s a game of frisbee or chasing other pets around the house.
While exercise is personal to each individual dog, a general guideline for how much exercise your best friend needs daily is between 30 minutes and 2 hours according to PetMD.
Prior to making any changes to your dog’s exercise and activity routine it is best to consult with their veterinarian first. They know the ins and outs of your dog’s health and can make you aware of any health issues that might play a factor in a new exercise program.
Below you will find 3 traits of a dog that assist in determining how much and what type of exercise your furry friend can do to keep healthy and strong.
Below are a couple of articles from our Active Dog Owner Series.
1. Dog’s Age
The age of your dog will determine the type and length of daily exercise that is recommended.
Younger and more active spirited dogs are naturally full of energy and always ready for some fun. They won’t need much assistance in finding thrilling and rigorous exercises, likely pulling weeds along with you in the garden and running beside you on the trail.
Older dogs that are less active should have less exercise, possibly a nice and easy, short walk in the neighborhood will provide happiness and gentle exercise. Games of throwing the ball for them to fetch and taking a dip in the pool are less strenuous on their aging bodies but still offer the excitement they crave, rekindling memories of being a puppy.
Once a dog reaches the age of about 7 to 8, they are considered a senior dog. If your dog is at this age or older you should scale down the daily physical activity by 15-20% to allow them the benefit of exercising without overdoing it, taking into consideration your dog’s health. Joints, muscles and bones as well as other body parts need to be treated a bit more gently to prevent injuries and strain.
2. Dog's Family Tree
Many dogs today are of a mixed heritage, but for those individuals who happen to know their dogs breed this can be a valuable tool for creating a daily workout. For instance, the Bull Mastiff has a short nose that makes it hard to breath when worked extra hard. This type of dog breed should go on leisurely walks that allow the benefit of exercise without the dangers these brachycephalic breeds can experience. Read more about this condition at The Veterinary Expert. Being active is important to all breeds but health considerations should always come first for your dog’s health.
Each individual breed of dog has different abilities, strengths, weaknesses, energy levels and needs. From hunting dogs, to sporting, herding and hound dogs, having the knowledge about your dog will help you tailor their physical activities to meet their own individual needs. This knowledge could also turn into an exciting journey, like discovering our own heritage and ancestry.
Talking to their veterinarian and researching online or contacting the person or organization your best friend came from can possibly aid the mixed breed owner.
3. Personality of Your Furry Friend
Let’s face it, just like humans, dogs have unique personalities and temperaments that will play a part in how much physical activity they get in a day. Notice I didn’t say how much physical activity they need…
Some dogs love being physical, anything you want to do, your best friend wants to do. Fishing, football, running and bicycling -- even skydiving (okay this might not be seen too often!), they want to be by your side having a great time right along with you.
On the other hand, certain dogs love to sit on our lap while we relax and watch TV, and maybe they like to go for a dog treat treasure hunt around the yard. The idea of tagging along on a 5-mile run however, just doesn’t appeal to them. Respecting who your dog is and finding activities they enjoy can remedy this to ensure they receive adequate physical activity.
This is very similar to our own physical regimen, some of us wouldn’t know what to do without the gym every morning, and yet others prefer a jog around a local park or pushing through a dance routine in their home studio.
Once you have determined approximately how much exercise your dog should have by visiting the veterinarian, noting their age, breed and personality you can begin to tailor a daily physical activity plan that will ensure their overall health and well being for many years to come. Like humans, dogs will have good and bad days for a variety of reasons, some that we are unable to see, and they aren’t able to necessarily communicate. Tummy troubles, sore legs, an aching tooth, lack of sleep the night before, and stress are just some of the possible reasons you may find them being less interested in exercise on a given day.
Using a favorite set of toys to excite and stimulate may do the trick, while other days simply sitting beside them and snuggling or letting them wander off to find a comfortable spot to rest are the best thing that can be done. Being understanding of these moments are important for the support and love of your best friend, and respecting their needs is key to a healthy best friend relationship.
It should be noted that over exercise is possible especially during the warmer weather months. Over exercise can be dangerous for your dog’s health and cause potential injuries.
Symptoms can include:
- Extreme Panting after an activity
- Excessive thirst
- Limping afterwards
- Reluctance to continue the physical activity
- Inability to focus or being confused
- Larger than normal amounts of sleeping
Offering guidelines for how much exercise a dog needs is a perfect place to start for ensuring their overall health and well-being, but it can be limiting if certain factors are not considered. Each individual dog is different, from size and eating habits to shape and personality, breed and age, therefore the best place to start is at their veterinarian. Ensuring good health and ability will assist you on this journey and enable you to adapt to the many traits and moments of your dog keeping them active.
Sometimes the best determining factor is the dog, after all who knows them better. If you throw the ball and they watch it fly across the yard a few times from their patio bed, chances are they aren’t in the mood for this type of play. If you put on those running shoes and try to get them excited about tagging along, to which you receive a non-committal sigh and no movement from the couch, chalk it up to tiredness or maybe an upset stomach. Of course, if you think it could something more serious a visit to your vet is the best idea.
Exercise is essential for everyone’s overall health, including your best friend. Making sure that your dog gets adequate exercise daily and the right kind can help in keeping them healthy, happy and strong.
Making exercise a normal and regular ritual that you and your best friend do together will make it not only more enjoyable but also more likely to happen. Letting your best friend out into the back yard doesn’t mean that he or she will automatically run around and get active, for all you know they could be, and probably are lounging on your favorite chase lounge waiting for an umbrella drink!
Be sure to take care of your fury friend in summer.