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How Much is Enough Exercise for My Dog?

Pet Care


The right level of exercise for your dog depends on a few things

Breed, age, and overall health. These are the three main variables that determine the right amount of exercise for a dog.

But many experts (including ours) agree that one hour is usually the minimum time a dog needs to exercise each day. A conversation with your vet is always the right thing to do before you start an exercise program for your dog. That said, let’s look at the 3 main variables.

Breed. If your dog is a pure breed, do some research on their need for exercise. Border collies can run for miles, while toy breeds and senior citizens are fine with a 30 minute walk. Labs and terriers tend to need extended activity, while bulldogs, for example, are a lower-energy breed. The point: Breed plays a big role in determining a dog’s need for activity. If you have a mixed breed, try to find out his parents breeds.

Age: Puppies. Puppies may have tons of energy for playing on the rug, but they also need exercise like walks and runs to get them used to a lifetime of exercise with you and others. Keep sessions short at first. Also, beware of puppies “overdoing it” on rough surfaces like asphalt.

Age: Adults. By the time a dog becomes an adult, exercise can take any form that works for you and your dog, indoors or out. Many pet parents go to dog parks to combine exercise with socializing, which we think is great – just keep a close eye on the level of roughness.

Age: Mature/Old. Older dogs still need exercise. Just modify it to their abilities. You can shorten your walks, stay indoors if the weather is too much, and learn new tricks and skills instead of running or walking. Know when enough is enough (reading body language will tell you a lot), and allow recovery time.

General health. If your dog has heart or breathing issues, the right approach to exercise will be critical. Some breeds are prone to physical conditions that limit or change how they exercise. For example, Golden retrievers, labs, pugs, and St. Bernards are among the breeds susceptible to hip dysplasia. Again, talk to your vet.

Remember, canine obesity affects as many as 1 dog in 4

Heart disease and diabetes are also becoming more common in dogs. The good news is that you and your dog can help keep each other in shape. And you can make your friendship stronger and stronger each time you go out to exercise.

Dog experts agree that regardless of breed, size or age, “A tired dog is a good dog.” Ensuring your pet has both an outlet for his physical energy but also is engaged in mentally stimulating exercises daily will help to keep him fit, sharp and most importantly, out of trouble! 

Manners Obedience Trainer, Heather Corum recommends the 20 rule. “Twenty minutes of an interactive game of fetch or tug and 20 minutes of structured obedience training or “brain games” will go a long way to keep your dog feeling fulfilled so he doesn’t seek out destructive activities to relieve boredom or satisfy pent up energy.”

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