Day in and day out we hear about how important exercise is to our health. It doesn’t matter if we are reading the news, grabbing a magazine, or scrolling through social media, we are bombarded with health facts that tell us the exact reasons that we need to get out and move more. Dogs don’t have quite the representation that we have, but they too need exercise. Regular exercise is imperative to their health and happiness.
Dogs suffer from a myriad of health issues that can come from lack of exercise and an unhealthy lifestyle. As dog owners we are responsible for making sure our dogs don’t suffer from any of these issues.
As a dog owner you may find yourself with questions related to your dog’s exercise and health. Here are some questions I have heard:
- How much exercise do dogs need?
- What types of exercise should dogs do?
- How does exercise benefit my dog?
- Where to go for dog exercises?
- What happens if dogs don’t get enough exercise?
Table of Contents
- 1 How much exercise do dogs need?
- 2 What types of exercise should dogs do?
- 3 How does exercise benefit my dogs?
- 4 Where to go for dog exercises?
- 5 What happens if dogs don’t get enough exercise?
How much exercise do dogs need?
Your dog’s exercise needs are dependent upon their current health, their age, and their breed. For example, an eight-month-old Boxer will need more exercise than a six-year-old Pekingese. You also want to be careful with puppies. There is some debate about exercising puppies as their joints/muscles are still developing so you don’t want to cause unnecessary harm. This will also depend on the breed of the puppy.
A good rule of thumb is to give a puppy five minutes of exercise twice a day for each month of age. So, for example, a two-month-old puppy should have 10 minutes of exercise twice a day and 15 minutes twice a day at three months. And you shouldn’t jog with a dog until they are at least six months old. Some large or giant breeds may need even more time. Your veterinarian should be able to help you create an exercise plan for your puppy.
Dogs that are bred to hunt or guard (for example, Australian Shepherds, German Shepherds, Border Collies) are generally going to need more exercise than those who don’t have that type of lineage. Although their breed doesn’t fully dictate their exercise needs either. Sometimes you might find a dog that is simply more energetic than others. These dogs need to exercise more often.
That being said, a good general rule of thumb is to make sure that your dog exercises between 30 and 60 minutes per day. You’ll know it has been enough exercise once they start slowing down during your activity. Here are some further guidelines that will help you determine how much exercise your dog needs:
Active breeds: Active breed dogs require a minimum of 30 minutes of hard exercise every day.
Toy breeds: While many people believe that toy breeds get plenty of exercise inside of the home, this is not always true. Many small breed dogs are prone to obesity and need to get outside and get more vigorous and challenging exercise.
What types of exercise should dogs do?
There are many different types of exercise that dogs can and should be doing.
Daily walks are a great way for your dog to get exercise and hey, you get to get some as well! There are two kinds of walks: “smell the roses” and “heart pumping.” It’s important to allow your dog to have both.
Dogs love smelling and exploring their environment and so it’s important for their mental stimulation to allow them to have nice slow walks where they can “smell the roses.” This may not be sufficient in terms of exercise though, especially for high-energy dogs, so you will need to also take them on fast-paced walks to tire them out.
If you are a runner, lace up your shoes and take your dog with you. If you have a yard or property, you can open up your door and let them run around outside. Although, just running around in your backyard may not be sufficient and you will need to also take them into the outside world as well.
Dog parks are not only great for exercise, but they can also be wonderful for letting your dogs socialize. Personally, I have mixed feelings about dog parks and I don’t recommend them for all dogs. If you do want to go to a dog park, before going in, assess the dogs that are inside the park as well as the owners. Many times, owners do not monitor their dogs closely. Many fights happen upon entering the park, when your dog may get scared if they are bombarded with a group of dogs at the gate.
When I first got Dylan, I used to take him to the local dog park and it wasn’t always the best experience. He would get scared when groups of dogs would come and greet him at once. And a few times, a dog would be showing signs of aggression and the owner wouldn’t correct their dog’s behavior. I would have to remove Dylan before a fight started. So, it wasn’t always a positive experience for either of us. I realized that Dylan does better in a more intimate and structured environment with a doggy day care.
Rainey is a happy-go-lucky girl and loves socializing. So, she loves the dog park. Again, she doesn’t like to get ganged up at the gate, so I make sure to enter first and open up some room for her. Once we enter, she’s ready to have a fun time and make new friends.
If you have any local hiking trails, your pup would love to head out and hike with you! Lots of new areas to explore and that nature-filled fresh air is pretty nice too!
If the weather is bad and you can’t get outside for exercise, you can practice tricks, toss a toy around, go up and down the stairs together, train your dog to use a treadmill, play hide-and-seek, and much more. Just keeping your pup moving is good for him/her!
How does exercise benefit my dogs?
Dogs are greatly benefited from exercise. Here are just some of the benefits that your dog will receive from exercise.
- Weight loss. Dogs can become overweight too. If your dog is dealing with this problem, exercise can be a huge help to them.
- Weight management. Even if your dog isn’t overweight, exercise can prevent it from happening in the future. Appropriate, regular exercise will help to keep your dog at a healthy weight for life.
- Muscle health. Not only is exercise good for preventing fat growth in your dog, but it is wonderful for helping them to build strong muscle.
- Mental health. Yes, dogs can experience mental health problems too! Regular exercise can help your dog fight depression and other canine-related mental health issues.
- Boredom beater. Every dog owner knows how bad boredom can be for dogs. When a dog is exercised properly it helps to avoid boredom throughout the other parts of their days.
- Energy burn. If you have a puppy or an otherwise extremely busy puppy, you need to be exercising them regularly.
Where to go for dog exercises?
There are many places that you can take your dog to exercise. Sometimes you need to be creative, but you can make just about any place work. We touched on a few earlier, but here are some great places to consider:
- Playing at the dog park
- Exploring your neighborhood—mix it up and don’t take the same route every day
- Doggy daycare—these are great for socialization and for exercise especially if you prefer a more supervised and structured environment
- Hiking trails and local parks/green spaces
- Explore your neighboring towns or cities—it’s good for your dog to get exposed to different environments and also allows you to explore places yourself without feeling alone
What happens if dogs don’t get enough exercise?
Have you ever heard the expression “A tired dog is a good dog”? That is an expression for a reason. If your dog has too much pent up energy, you might come home to find your couch chewed to pieces or a hole in your wall, or a hole in your yard. Bored dogs that don’t get enough exercise can become destructive quickly.
Not getting appropriate exercise can potential cause a number of health issues in your dog including:
- Heart disease
- Respiratory disease
- Liver problems
- Joint issues
- Shorter life span
You may not realize it, but dogs often do most of their socialization while exercising. A dog who isn’t socialized properly can suffer from anxiety when approached by those outside of their family, which can be difficult to deal with.
Mental health issues
Yes, dogs can develop mental health problems. An inactive dog is far more likely to suffer from mental health issues such as depression than a dog who exercises regularly.
Does your pet get an appropriate amount of exercise? What types of exercise do they do and how do you make sure to fit it into your day?