How Much Exercise Do Dogs Need?

Dogs should be walked daily, but exercising your pet depends on their breed and age. This guide explores the importance and ways of exercising your canine companion.

Aug 6, 2023byLisa Szymanski
how much exercise do dogs need

Every pet needs exercise because it is a simple way to keep them healthy and out of mischief. Dogs that are not regularly exercised become bored, leading to problematic behaviors ranging from relentless barking to chewing and digging holes. Mobility issues and chronic diseases can also arise from a lack of exercise. Fortunately, the right amount of activity will curb unwanted behavior and keep your canine companion in excellent condition. In this guide, we investigate just how much exercise dogs need, and the best activities based on breed and age.

Why Dogs Need Exercise

dogs walking on leash in field
Walking your dog is a rewarding form of exercise

Exercising your dog strengthens its muscles, supports their joints, and manages its weight. It is not only physically beneficial for them but also helps keep them mentally stimulated. Daily walks provide canines with a job as they take in different scents and sights while exerting their energy. Without regular activity, canines may destroy things in the home or develop obsessive behaviors that range from jumping on visitors to constant nipping and chewing. Exercising your pets is a great way to bond with them and helps you establish a trusting leadership role. Introducing activities that are based on your dog’s age and energy requirements will keep them healthier for longer.

Exercises for Your Dog’s Age and Breed

golden retriever running after ball in a park
A Golden Retriever playing fetch with a ball

All dogs need activities, from walking to playing fetch, but some need more frequent and structured exercises than others. The breed and age of your dog will greatly influence their activity levels. Toy Pomeranians, for example, will require less activity compared to working dogs such as huskies and collies that are bred for endurance. Working and active dog breeds that are younger than 7 years old should be exercised for up to two hours a day. Small dogs, including poodles and Yorkshire Terriers, can benefit from daily walks of 30 minutes. Old dogs over the age of 10 years can benefit from a 15-30 minute walk every day, depending on their level of mobility.

Do Senior Pets Need Exercise?

old chocolate labrador with gray face
Senior dogs need exercise too

When dogs reach their senior years, they may need training. But they definitely still need exercise. The frequency, duration, and type of activity will change based on their physical condition. Dogs over the age of 7 are considered seniors, and it’s usually at this age that you’ll notice changes in their mobility. Exercise can delay the progression of joint ailments such as arthritis and hip dysplasia by keeping the supporting muscles strong. For older dogs with leg or hip problems, hydrotherapy is a great activity because it doesn’t put pressure on their joints. Water therapy as rehabilitation is useful for canines that have suffered hip, knee, or shoulder injuries. It is not recommended that you run with a senior pet, as it strains their joints, increasing their risk of injury and pain. Short walks are recommended, but if they show signs of slowing down or limping, allow them to rest and end the walk.

Signs That Dogs Aren’t Getting Enough Exercise

jack russell terrier digging hole in yard
A Jack Russel digging in the yard

When you notice changes in your pet’s behavior, such as constant barking, digging up the garden, or ripping up your shoes, they might not be getting enough exercise. Dogs get bored, anxious, and restless when confined for too long, and they can get destructive to release their energy. They tend to gain weight very quickly and often suffer from stiffness after a short walk or playtime. The demeanor of your canine companion can change, making them hyperactive or withdrawn. If you notice changes in their personality or condition, have them evaluated by your local veterinarian to rule out any disorders or injuries. This way, you can create a healthy and safe range of activities to keep them out of trouble.

The Best Activities for Dogs

border collie agility training jumping over fence

Working breeds do well with a combination of agility or obedience training and walks. They need to do things that mentally stimulate them because of their high drive and tendency to become bored quickly. Games such as playing fetch or encouraging them to find hidden toys and treats are simple ways to keep them busy. Active dogs, including terriers, beagles, shepherds, and collies, make great running partners. Running with your dog gets rid of pent-up energy, but always monitor their condition to prevent injuries or physical stress. Time spent at a dog park is a fun activity that allows pets to run and play, provided they are well-socialized with other dogs. Ultimately, every dog can benefit from regular walks, as they are a safe and stimulating form of exercise. It is a great way to bond with your pet and is suitable for all breeds at every life stage.

The Benefits of Exercising Your Dog

six dogs sitting on grass in dog park
Dogs having fun at a park

Exercise is beneficial for your canine companions because it is fun, supports their mobility, and controls their weight. Regular activity is a simple way to prevent restlessness and habits such as ongoing barking, whining, chewing, and digging. You can easily maintain your pet’s fitness by scheduling daily hour-long walks for young dogs and 30-minute walks for small breeds and senior dogs. For active breeds that need more than a daily walk, agility courses provide physical and mental stimulation as dogs climb and move through various obstacles. Take the time to give your dog the right amount of exercise based on their age and health, and you’ll raise a happy and loyal fur friend.

Lisa Szymanski
byLisa Szymanski

Lisa is a wildlife enthusiast who enjoys hiking and gardening and has four years of experience volunteering at pet shelters. She is the proud mom of two dogs, a Pitbull named Ragnar, a Boerboel named Blueberry, and four feisty chickens, or as she calls them, the \"queens of the yard,\" Goldie, Gray, Peaches, and Brownie.