How Much Exercise Does My Dog Need?

Active Dog

March 21, 2018

How Much Exercise Does My Dog Need?

When getting a dog, we know they will need daily exercise. Your dog may even be your daily motivator and workout buddy. But, depending on their size, breed and health restrictions, their daily exercise needs may vary. You may have asked yourself the question, “How much exercise does my dog need?” Here’s what we’ve found:

Benefits of exercising

Have you heard the phrase, a tired dog is a good dog? When your dog burns off extra energy, they will be much less likely to find their own entertainment and stimulation – which could include destroying your house.

Preventing anxiety and boredom in your furry friend is crucial to their health and your home. Just like humans, your dog can get stir-crazy after sitting in the house all day, every day. If your dog isn’t burning energy and finding stimulation, they will be sure to find it themselves. And trust me, you don’t want them to find their own entertainment (it’s usually your favorite shoes).

Anxiety in dogs is something that will require time, energy and maybe even money (for training) to unlearn. Dogs can develop anxiety from any of the following: leaving them alone all day, every day, not touching or making eye contact with them or ignoring them for long periods of time. Dog trainers, such as Cesar Millan, includes exercise as a tip to help dogs suffering from separation anxiety.

Keeping your dog at an ideal weight is also important. When a human gains five pounds, it doesn’t have a huge effect on their health. However, when a dog gains five pounds, it can have many negative effects on the health of their body. Even a small weight gain can cause: burdened joints, risk of torn ligaments, cardiac issues, skin problems and increased risk for cancer. Daily exercise can keep them healthy and at their ideal weight.

Puppy 0-12 months

Golden retriever puppy in a dog crate in the back of a car with gear@alska_wild

Puppies always seem to have abundant energy, but do they really need a ton of exercise to burn it off? In short, no. As your puppy develops, they will be able to start exercising by going on short walks. Depending on your puppy’s energy level, they could need a little more exercise than just a short walk.

Activities that you can do to exercise your puppy include:

  • Playing with toys
  • Teaching them basic tricks such as: sit, shake and lay down
  • Puppy training class
  • Socialization with a friendly dog

The stimulation of a puppy class can be enough to wear them out for the entire day. Plus, it gets you training your dog early on in their life! Check your local pet stores and vet offices for schedules and prices.

Pro tip: When I signed my pup up for class, I made sure to have him rest during the day so he had enough energy for our evening puppy class. If he had a good amount of energy, puppy class went smooth and he listened and learned very quickly. If he was tired during class, he acted just like a toddler – cranky and in-need of a nap. Be sure to sign up for a class that’s at a good time for both you and your dog to be attentive and alert.

Adult dog 1-7

Three collie type dogs looking at the camera from halfway out of a pet gate@kelly_bove

Adult dogs need a different amount of exercise depending on their size and breed. For example, if you have a hunting breed dog, they will need more exercise than other breeds. These active breeds include Australian Shepherds, Labs, Golden Retrievers, Weimaraners, Dalmatians, Border Collies, Siberian Huskies, and more.

These high energy dogs will need more than an hour of exercise a day. You can try a mix of high and low energy activities spread out throughout the day.

Non-active breeds only need up to an hour of exercise throughout the day.

Activities that you can do to exercise your adult dog include:

  • A long walk/run
  • Basic or agility training
  • Swimming
  • Dog park
  • Socialization with other dogs
  • Fetch
  • Brain game toys

Get creative by finding activities in your area through social media or by chatting with other dog-parents at your local dog park.

Although we’d all love to be stay-at-home dog parents, that reality isn’t available to us all. If you need activities that you can do in short amounts of time, here’s a great list of activities you can do in 30 minutes or less. If you’re going to be gone all day, you can also bring your dog to a local doggy daycare. There, they get to play with their friends all day and come home tuckered-out! It’s a win-win.

Senior pug dog laying down in a dog bed covered with a blanket

Senior dogs 7+

Active dogs are healthier dogs, and healthier dogs can live longer and happier lives. Your old pup may not have the energy they used to, but they can still thrive with short exercise during the day. Depending on their health and energy level, they could benefit from around 30 minutes to one hour of exercise broken up throughout the day.

Activities that you can do to exercise your senior dog include:

  • Short walks
  • A quick swim
  • Low-impact balance training
  • Playing with toys if they’re still interested

My 15-year-old West Highland White Terrier still loves to go for walks. Even if she’s in a dead sleep, she’ll jump right up if she hears the word WALK. Although she can’t fully make it around the neighborhood anymore, I’ll still take her halfway and then carry her home (bonus: arm exercise). If I don’t have time to do our regular loop (she’s a slow walker), I’ll just take her to the mailbox with me.

You can see the pure joy on her face as she slowly struts down the street. She’s also remained much healthier because of the exercise she’s getting. Even if you feel bad waking them up from their day-long nap, try it! At any age, we all can benefit from fresh air and a little exercise.

Dog exercise infographic