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How Much Exercise Does Your Dog Need?

January 13, 2023

how much exercise does your dog need

Here is the great news about how much exercise your dog requires - most dogs need roughly the same amount of exercise as you do. The CDC recommends that all humans get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily. If you have a dog, they need at least that much - and more is almost always preferred. 

And, like humans, different dogs have more energy to burn, which also affects how much exercise - and the type of exercise - are the best fit.

Dogs & Humans Benefit From Regular Daily Exercise

There are multiple benefits of getting enough exercise (for dogs and humans). They include:

  • Healthy weight management
  • Reduced risk of heart disease
  • Reduced or eliminated risk of type 2 diabetes (yes! Dogs get diabetes, too!)
  • Improved moods
  • Better sleep habits
  • Boosted immune system function

However, there is one difference between dogs and humans; humans aren’t available in different breeds.

6 Ways To Make Sure Your Dog Gets Enough Exercise

There is no arguing that different dog breeds require different levels of exercise. However, it’s also worth noting that a dog’s size doesn’t correlate to energy needs. 

For example, while Greyhounds might be large and originally bred to be racing dogs, they're sprinters and not marathon runners. Therefore, they’re happy to lounge about in the apartment with only a short to medium walk each day. That’s very different from a working dog, such as a Husky or herding dog bred to go-go-go for hours at a time.

With that foundation in mind, here are six ways to ensure your dog gets enough daily exercise.

Choose the right dog breed for your family

Do your homework and be honest with yourself about your lifestyle. Don’t get a dog with the idea that it will encourage you to walk or exercise every day. Instead, choose a dog that meets your current lifestyle reality. If that also means you’re encouraged to walk or exercise more - it’s a win-win for you both.

The flip side of that is don’t buy a toy poodle if you want a dog to accompany you on your weekly runs or marathon hikes. In that case, a working, sporting  or herding dog is a much better fit! Dogs known for having high energy levels need an average of two hours a day to keep fit and not go stir-crazy.

Read books, research posts about choosing the right dog breed online, or speak to your vet or a local dog trainer to learn more about which breed is the best fit for your household, yard, family, and your current exercise routine.

Remember that younger dogs need more exercise than older dogs

Just like humans, puppies and juvenile dogs have far more energy than their adult versions. Even if you opt to get a breed that does just fine with a moderate walk each day, you should expect to put in more dog exercise time for the first year to three. In most cases, small dogs are full-grown and reach maturity in the first one to two years, while larger breeds take up to two or three years to move out of the puppy-like energy phase.

Create a dog walking schedule to know how much exercise your dog is getting

If there is more than one person in the household, and you notice the dog walks are tapering off, create a dog walking schedule and take turns. Dogs that don’t get exercise are far more likely to have separation anxiety or to participate in destructive behaviors to vent pent-up energy and frustration. 

Make walking the dog part of the weekly family schedule. If you’re a parent, I assure you that taking the time to walk your dog with a child or with your children will provide opportunities for conversation and connection you wouldn’t have otherwise.

NOTE: You can also hire professional dog walkers to walk your dog for you on days your schedule doesn’t have room OR you could take them to doggy daycare twice a week.

Take your dog to a local dog park

Don’t have the time to take a walk every day? Consider visiting a local dog park in your area. Do a tour and find a favorite. In addition to socializing your dog with other dogs (just as important as socializing your dog with people and various environments), you have the opportunity to take a break for a bit as your dog plays, wrestles, chases, and romps around with other dogs. 

In most cases, dogs that make it to the dog park a few times a week get far more opportunities for intense exercise levels than they have on the average walk. While it’s essential to keep an eye on your dog and engage with what’s happening (scuffles do take place from time to time), many people use dog park time to schedule a work phone call or catch up on emails or other tasks, optimizing the schedule space.

Don’t forget about play

I’ve met very few dogs that don’t enjoy a good daily play session. And playing counts as exercise. That might look like 15 to 30 minutes of:

  • Chasing a ball
  • Playing chase (but make sure to curb a dog’s tendencies to nip at human heels, jump up on the human, or grab human clothes in their mouth, etc.)
  • Practice obedience training and skills/tricks (this type of engagement uses their minds and bodies and also serves as a bonding ritual)
  • Playing tug of war
  • Hiding snacks in a rubber Kong that skids/bounces across the floor as the dog tries to get the treat out
  • Playing hide and seek with a favorite toy or small healthy treats.
  • Tailor play to meet the breed. For example, most retrievers have a ton of fun playing in the water, whereas other dogs could care less. 

Build an agility training course in your yard

Have you ever seen a dog work its way through an agility course? If not, Click Here (skip to 2:17 if you don’t want to hear the announcers). While you shouldn’t feel pressured to compete in the Masters' Agility Competition at Westminster, you’ll be amazed at what just about any dog can learn - and love to do - with a basic backyard agility course

Enroll your dog in a group training class

Enrolling your dog in a group dog training class provides multiple benefits. First, you’ll be in touch with qualified dog trainers in your area and learn professional tips and tricks to teach your dog basic obedience cues along with some fun tricks. Second, your dog gets socialized with other dogs and people. Finally, the network of other dog-loving humans keeps you connected to the area's best dog parks and other dog-friendly places to exercise - as well as opportunities to schedule dog play dates.

Still Not Sure How Much Exercise Your Dog Needs Or Need An Exercise Outlet?

Do you need an exercise outlet for your dog? Schedule an in-home consultation or group training session with Alternative Canine Training. We’ll provide professional and personalized recommendations about the best ways to ensure your dog gets the exercise they need. We can also refer you to the area’s best dog sitters, dog walkers, and doggy daycare providers - all of whom can be additional dog exercise resources.

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