How Much Exercise Does Your Dog Really Need?
Different needs for different breeds
The fact is some dogs are just born with higher energy levels and need more exercise than others. According to the AKC, active dog breeds include Border Collies, Jack Russell Terriers, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, Australian Shepherds, Siberian Huskies, and Pembroke Welsh Corgis. With Jack Russell Terriers and Corgis on the list, you can see that it’s not just the larger breeds that need regular activity. On the other side of the spectrum, lower energy dogs include French Bulldogs, Chihuahuas, Cockapoos, Bulldogs, and Boston Terriers. Knowing a little about the breed mix of your dog can help give you an idea of what kind of energy level will help keep them happy and healthy.
As a general rule, most dogs need about 30 to 60 minutes of exercise a day. Regular exercise helps dogs to deplete their energy levels, gives them something productive to do and also stimulates them mentally. If they are not regularly active, they can be at risk for gaining weight as well as creating their own ways to play, which you might not appreciate such as digging holes or chewing up some of your favorite things! Here are some general rules for dog-lovers to live by:
- Active breeds need a minimum of 30-60 minutes of exercise most days of the week, preferably daily.
- Toy or small breeds need more exercise than you think. Specific breeds, like Chihuahuas for example, are prone to obesity and need much more exercise than they usually get. Getting 20-30 minutes a day could be very beneficial to their health.
- Good exercise engages your dog’s mind as well as his body. Exploring a new hiking trail or a new neighborhood street, for example, can keep life interesting for both of you.
- Remember: an active dog is a happy dog.
As any dog ages, the amount and intensity of exercise should change. Ask your vet for guidance on how much of a workout your mature pooch should get.
Here are some ideas for staying active with your dogs. Mix them up to keep life interesting.
Use the great outdoors.
Most pooches just can’t wait to get out into the world. Just be sure to keep the athleticism required safe and appropriate to your dog’s breed and age. Here are some outdoor activities you can do together:
- Walking, jogging or biking. That’s right! In addition to the traditional brisk leashed walk, you and your dog can jog or bike together. The latter two will provide a more intense doggy workout. But first be sure to train your dog to safely run or bike with you. Not all breeds are built for running.
- Fetch. It’s on old canine pastime that never gets old. Just throw a ball or chew toy, and your pup will run to bring it back. Playing “catch” with a ball or flying disk is a fun variant on this game.
- Running off leash. If there’s a park or open area nearby where your dog can run safely and within restrictions, take advantage of it. Let your furry athlete run and explore until they get tired.
- Swimming. If you live near the sea or a lake or even a large pond, there’s no better exercise than canine swimming session. Such activity is especially beloved by “water dogs” like retrievers, spaniels or even poodles. You can combine it with a fetch game. Just make sure it’s warm enough outside, and that you never leave your swimmer unattended.
- Playing with other pets. A fun activity at a dog park or in your enclosed backyard. When dogs get together and play, it can get pretty rambunctious—which is good exercise. Just make sure that your pup likes to hang out peaceably and safely with other dogs.
What if it’s too cold, hot or wet outside?
Exercise in extreme heat or cold is just as unsafe for your pup as it is for you. Sometimes even more unsafe. But you don’t have to skip the workout on the days when you need to stay indoors. Here are some ideas:
- Indoor fetch. If you have some soft toys to throw in the house, you can still have a pretty rousing game of fetch (just watch out for the lamps and other breakables). Rolling a ball and angling it down the hallway can also make for a good game of chase. Have an active dog? Take your game to the next level with stairway fetch. Just throw your ball or chew toy up to the landing, and have your pup bring it back down to you.
- Tug. Another old favorite, and most dogs really get into it. In fact, it can bring out the competitive instincts in your pet, so don’t let it get out of hand. Combine it with a little fetch exercise tossing the tug toy across the room.
- Tricks for Bil-Jac treats. Hollywood dog trainer, Joel Silverman has dog training tips on how to use Bil•Jac Treats to train your pup to sit up, heel and other fun things. You can also play “find the treat” by hiding three or four Bil-Jac Original Recipe Dog Treats around the house while your pup is outside or in a treat toy. Just alert him to the scent and encourage him to hunt around the house.
Dogs that exercise regularly and with some intensity develop a higher metabolism, smaller appetite, better muscle tone, and even better temperature regulation. They also have a better chance of avoiding both obesity and boredom. And that makes them less likely to “act out” with destructive behaviors. So make a daily play date with your best friend. You’ll both be healthier and happier for it!
What’s your favorite pooch playtime activity? We’d love to hear from you!