All dogs need daily physical exercise but depending on their age, breed and general health the amount of exercise they need can vary from 30 minutes up to 2 hours. Like humans, daily exercise for your dog will not only benefit them physically but also contribute to their mental stimulation.
But how do you know if your dog is getting enough exercise? Here’s how you can determine how much exercise your dog needs based on their breed, age and temperament.
Dog Exercise Needs by Breed
Small dog breeds generally have moderate exercise needs and require a 20-30 minute daily walk. This group of dogs includes breeds like Chihuahuas, Maltese and Shih Tzu. While there are some exceptions, this should be enough exercise for the majority of small breeds.
Big dog breeds with larger frames like the Great Dane, Saint Bernard or Bernese Mountain Dog should get at least 30-45 minutes of exercise per day. This may be a slower walk, a long swim or another low-weight-bearing activity. Ensuring your giant breed still stays active will help to support their joint and bone health and weight management overall.
Most active breeds
Active dog breeds need 1-2 hours of exercise per day. These breeds exude a lot of energy and are best suited to owners who also have an active lifestyle.
Some of these breeds include:
Border Collies - This breed is happiest when it’s competing in agility exercise activities.
Golden Retrievers - This breed is a great fit for owners who like walking, hiking and especially swimming.
Vizsla - This is the ideal breed for owners who love running in the great outdoors.
Australian Shepherd - This breed thrives with high-energy activities like playing frisbee and long walks or hikes.
And if you choose to exercise outside then make sure you keep your dog cool. Try to avoid the midday heat and provide plenty of fresh drinking water. You could also bring an ice pack, cooling mat or wet towel for your pet to lie on or a cooling collar or vest so your dog can stay cool on the go.
Dog Exercise Needs by Age
When you first bring home a new puppy you should start with short sessions in your backyard. Once you’ve waited 10-14 days after your puppy has received their last vaccination booster then you can start taking them on short walks around the neighbourhood, in local parks or on walking trails; increasing the length of these walks only a little bit every month.
Once your dog becomes an adult (between the ages of 1-2) they’ll need to exercise for at least 30 minutes each day to maintain a healthy weight. The average adult dog needs 30-60 minutes of exercise each day but depending on their breed this may vary. Remember, there are lots of ways you can exercise your dog including walking, swimming, hiking or running.
As dogs age, they tend to slow down and have a lot less energy, but this doesn’t mean they shouldn’t exercise daily. Keeping a daily exercise routine in place will help your senior dog stay active and manage its weight.
For older dogs (7-12 years), you should break down the daily activity into two or three 15-20 minute sessions. And if you don’t want to put pressure on your older dog’s joints then try some low-impact activities like walking slowly, swimming or scent work.
What happens if my dog doesn’t get enough exercise?
Daily exercise will help your dog stay happy and healthy while a lack of exercise can lead to weight gain, lethargy and ongoing behavioural problems.
Weight gain in dogs can lead to several health problems including diabetes, respiratory disease and heart disease. Excess weight may also put more pressure on your dog’s joints, affecting their mobility and making them feel more lethargic overall.
Dogs that don’t get enough exercise and mental stimulation can become bored and destructive. They might start digging in your backyard, chew on anything they can get their teeth on or start showing signs of attention-seeking behaviour.
If you’re concerned about your dog’s exercise needs then please reach out to a trusted vet for more information and expert advice. Routine veterinary care is arguably the most important part of pet ownership; checking your pet’s health and wellness (despite their age or breed) will help your vet determine what type of exercise is best suited to your dog.
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