Taking proper care of your dog includes the right amount of exercise. Learn everything you need to know below about how much dog exercise, the best types of exercise, and how it connects with the rest of their day to day life.
Different dog breeds require different amounts of exercise, and the same can be said for the various ages in a dog’s life. Knowing what is best for your doggo in particular in a breed—and-age-specific way will help keep him in top shape for as long as possible.
How much exercise does a dog need every day?
Without question, all dogs should have some varying amount of exercise every single day. This is a crucial part off both their emotional, mental and physical health and it is a key part of being a good dog parent. However, too much exercise is just as harmful as not enough, so you’ll want to learn how much your dog needs throughout his life for the best results.
A puppy’s need for exercise is often the hardest to calculate, but you’ll be happy to know that it doesn’t have to be! Firstly, a puppy’s exercise should be broken into multiple short spurts to match his wildly fluctuating energy levels. For this reason, don’t go planning any long walks or complicated aerobic routines because your puppy will quickly tire out.
Generally, a puppy should have 5 minutes of exercise per month of his life so far. So, a 6-month puppy can safely enjoy 35 minutes of exercise. This is also great for making sure that you don’t under-exercise your puppy during these important development-linked months in his life.
An adult dog
Now that your puppy is an adult, you can expect that he is going to need anywhere between one and four hours of exercise per day, depending on the dog breed that you have. These are often split up into 30-minute walks or they can be something more intense like playing (more on that later).
Since the need for exercise can vary so widely per dog breed. As an adult, you’ll want to be extra careful in choosing your dog breed initially to make sure that you are getting a dog who’s exercise needs are matched to your own!
A senior dog
As dogs age, their need for exercise does as well! You can expect that he’ll need one or two hours at the most and you should also take a look at shortening each exercise cycle itself so that you aren’t going to be making him exercise for too long at one time.
These are just guidelines, of course, and every individual dog is going to be a little different. Make sure that you follow your dog’s cues, too. If he is tired after 1.5 hours of exercise when he “should” have 2 hours, listen to your pooch!
How to exercise my dog
The best exercise for your dog, and the most common one, is going to be taking him for a walk. It could be one that is around the block or maybe it is a hike through the woods, or something else entirely. However, you can also exercise your dog in other ways than walking if you need something a little different.
Running or cycling
If you’re not much of a walker, you can also exercise your dog by going for a run or even cycling. This is great for helping dogs get used to different paces, too, which is excellent for their cardiovascular health in particular.
Many dogs love playing fetch and this is a great way to get them running and engaging with exercise even if you can’t or are not able to get out and around the block on a certain day. From a tennis ball to a stick, it’s all the same to your dog! Just make sure you teach him to bring it back to you, of course…
While some don’t, many dogs enjoy swimming wholeheartedly. If you want to make sure they are getting lots of exercise, one of the best ways is that you look at swimming. This could be in a pool or at a lake. Just make sure that you never leave him unattended.
From tug of war to treat balls, there is no shortage of games that will help exercise your dog. Unlike humans, dogs don’t necessarily need to go for a 30-minute job to enjoy exercise. They can just tug on a rope and enjoy the same benefits!
Some dogs respond well to agility training better than others. If you’ve got one of those dog breeds, though, consider the idea of training spots such as agility courses. These are great for both physical and mental exercise and don’t require you strapping on a helmet or breaking out your sneakers necessarily.
How to exercise your dog in bad weather
Most pet parents love the idea of taking their dog out for a walk or a run in great weather, but what about those days where the weather is bad? Rest assured, there are some things to consider even when the weather isn’t the most appealing.
You’ll find out one way or another whether your dog likes the snow. Most do and will insist that their humans let them out so that they can bury themselves in it — making for some great photos! Why not use that to your advantage? Just because you don’t want to be out in the snow doesn’t mean he has to miss out! Stand on your back step with your favorite hot drink and throw snowballs for him to chase. Or, get the kids to build him snow tunnels or paths that he can race through at top speed with you egging him on.
You may not want to take him out for fear of the wet dog smell and that’s totally understandable! Instead, look at extra playtimes and chasing a ball around the house so that he can get moving. If you have a garage, you can also make that his exercise spot!
From snow melting to flowers blooming, spring has its ups and downs with humans — particularly those who are prone to allergies — so it may not always be convenient to exercise your dog. However, dogs love exploring the “new” world that appears after the snow melts, so feel free to allow your pooch to roam your backyard or even just a quick jaunt around the block. He’ll have a blast and your allergen exposure will be minimal!
The heat of the day is too much for most doggos, but they still need their exercise! You’ll want to consider something like a pool or even a trip to the beach so that your dog can run wild and enjoy his time without getting too hot. Just make sure you give him lots of hydrating when he gets back!
How to exercise your dog in an apartment
If you are a willing pet parent in an apartment, there are still some great activities that you can consider without having to worry too much about the lack of outdoor space.
Some of the top options include the games mentioned such as tug of war or (carefully controlled) fetch. Maybe you can teach him a new complicated trick such as specialized “go get me” or even a scent-based scavenger hunt!
You can also race him up and down the stairs of either your apartment unit to your apartment building, assuming no one is trying to use them! He’ll have so much fun and you’ll get a kick out of how willing he is to simply run up and down over and over again! Do it with him if you want to enjoy a workout yourself!
How should I wait to feed my dog after exercise?
Just like humans, you’ll want to give your dog time to settle after exercise before you feed him. While he’s going need something to drink immediately after he settles inside again, you’ll want to wait about thirty minutes to 45 minutes to feed him dinner. This gives his stomach time to settle down so that he doesn’t upchuck his meal moments later!
Should dogs with hip dysplasia exercise?
A lot of the bigger dog breeds can be prone to conditions such as hip dysplasia, which is when the hip joint doesn’t settle properly in its socket causing pain and discomfort. Dogs with hip dysplasia should still exercise, but pet parents will need to work with a vet to determine the best exercises.
Many recommend swimming because it doesn’t put a lot of strain on their joints. Others recommend short and easy walks (meaning no hiking or fast-paced walking). The goal with exercise and your dog, in this case, would be to keep him healthy and strong without causing his hip dysplasia to flare up.
Signs that my dog needs more exercise
Numbers aside, sometimes it can be challenging to determine whether or not your pooch is getting enough exercise. This is especially so if you live in an apartment or you’re dealing with bad weather. Below are some of the signs that you can watch for.
He barks constantly at you
Dogs bark to get your attention and, normally, to let you know that he needs something. If you notice that your pooch is barking a lot and he doesn’t want to go pee or even play with a toy that you distract him with, he could be trying to tell you that he needs a walk or, at the very least, a good hearty game of tug of war.
Dogs that are physically restrained will also be restless. He’ll wander from room to room and stare longingly out the window. He might even bark at you from the window or shoot you one of those looks! Dogs are smart, after all.
He destroys belongings
Not enough exercise can create a lot of problems in your dog (more on that in a minute), and sometimes this will come out in his sudden and frustrating need to destroy, well, everything. Shoes, pillows, toys, blankets, your dog wants to rip it all to shreds.
He gains weight
A noticeable weight gain (either visually or on the scale) is also a sign that he needs a little bit more time out and about. Maybe an occasional run or a slightly longer walk can help.
What happens if my dog doesn’t get enough exercise?
As briefly mentioned, dogs can have some serious issues if they don’t get enough exercise in their day to day lives. Dogs are naturally energetic to some degree and want to be physically active with you to guide him, even if it’s just 15 minutes here and there. After all, a dog won’t exercise on his own unless he’s got a furry buddy to get him going. Kinda like humans, right? Here’s what you can expect if your doggo is exercise deprived
He’ll get bored
Exercise is as helpful for his mind and its stimulation as it is for his physical body. If he is not getting enough time to explore or engage with the world around him, he’ll get bored and this boredom leads to destruction and even anxiety. He needs to have something to do to help him feel fulfilled and exercise is key to that.
He may get depressed
Similarly, dogs can also suffer from emotional issues such as depression and serious anxiety if they are not exercised enough. A lot of times this comes out as separation anxiety or depression to the point of not wanting to get out of bed or eating. This is something to take seriously, just like you would with a human. It’s weird to think that a happy life-loving doggo could ever be depressed, but it is more common than you’d think.
He’ll have long-term health problems
Emotionally, mentally and especially physically, your doggo will have a lot of health problems if he doesn’t exercise enough as per his age and dog breed requirements. Just like in humans, getting the right amount of healthy and safe exercise is important to a balanced diet and life. The more your pooch exercises, the healthier he’ll be, and the better quality of life he’ll lead.
Dogs and exercise may not exactly be black and white, but you will be able to use this guide to help you find ideas, solutions and great tips on making sure your pooch gets just the right amount for him.