Dogs need walks. Everyone knows this, but what may not be so clear is how many times your dog needs to be walked each day. We examine the factors to consider when moving your pet. We also look at some of the added benefits of walking, not just for dogs but for us too.
Exercise is crucial to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Dogs need to burn energy – they are not couch potatoes. This helps them maintain healthy muscle mass and good bone strength. Exercise also keeps the cardiovascular system (heart and lungs) in shape.
Walking is one of the main exercise options for your dog. Regular walks help them maintain a healthy weight. Obesity and poor health make other problems, such as diabetes, cancer and joint disease, more likely. Don’t forget, exercise is good for us too. That’s well documented Walking is a great way for people to prevent certain chronic health conditions and is important for staying fit.
Benefits of walking your dog
Walks are an opportunity for your dog to get out of the house and receive mental stimulation. They gather most information about their surroundings and other animals through their keen sense of smell—it’s the canine equivalent of reading the headlines. So it’s important to give your dog a chance to take a good sniff and take some time out on the walk.
Undertrained dogs are at a higher risk of developing behavior problems. These animals can become bored and destructive, taking it out on themselves and those around them. stress level higher in these animals, which can lead to over-grooming and excessive whining.
Walking is also an excellent way to bond with your dog. Dogs enjoy our company and what could be nicer than being by your side on a walk or playing with you?
The benefits for us should not be underestimated either. Getting out into nature, enjoying some time away from screens and work pressure, and having fun with the dog all contribute to your mental well-being. You can even meet new people and expand your social circle while you go for a walk.
How often do you walk your dog?
Your dog’s age affects how much exercise he needs. Very young puppies only need short walks and frequent naps between bursts of energy and play. Similarly, older dogs will begin to slow down and may be content with more moderate amounts of exercise. Some of these animals only need short walks lasting 10 to 15 minutes a few times a day.
The breed of dog you own plays a big part in how often they need to be walked. Very active breeds may require 1.5-2 hours of exercise (or more) per day, while calmer dogs may only need 30 minutes or more per day, depending on endurance.
Examples of active breeds include many working dogs and large breed dogs such as:
- Doberman Pinscher
- border collies
More sedentary breeds tend to be smaller dogs, bred for companionship rather than stamina and endurance:
- Yorkshire terrier
- bichon frize
- Basset Hounds
- Shih Tzus
Note that these are generalizations. You should always monitor your dog’s abilities and adjust training accordingly.
Your dog’s health affects how much he can walk. A fit and healthy dog needs more exercise than a dog with an underlying condition. For example a dog arthrosis may have trouble walking as much as a dog without joint disease. Heart problems or breathing problems can also make walking difficult for some.
Obesity can affect some animals’ ability to move, but in turn, exercise can actually help with weight loss. Thus, an ever-increasing walking program can help these animals shed pounds safely. Talk to your vet for advice.
Brachycephalic breeds can have trouble moving compared to dogs with longer noses. Breeds like pugs, French bulldogs, and Pekingese have flattened faces and narrowed airways. This can make breathing difficult and affect their ability to move. They also have trouble maintaining a normal body temperature and are at greater risk of overheating. This all means that these dogs usually can’t handle as much exercise as other breeds.
Your dog’s personality can also determine how much exercise he wants to get. A lively, boisterous dog will likely need longer walks than one with a more relaxed personality. Some of this is determined by dog breed, but there are still differences between animals of the same breed. If your dog still seems energetic after his walks, then chances are he needs to go out longer.
The weather plays a big part in how many walks your dog should take. Dogs are at risk of overheating in very hot weather, so exercise should be restricted to the cooler parts of the day to ensure your dog’s safety. This may mean taking shorter walks as well so they don’t overdo it.
Very cold, freezing, or snowy weather can also result in fewer walks than usual, particularly for dogs that are more sensitive to cold such as whippets, salukis, and Mexican hairless dogs.
Rain shouldn’t stop the game. If your dog still wants to go for a walk in wet weather, be sure to grab a coat and an umbrella. Your dog needs to be walked all year round, not just on the nice sunny days.
Let your dog guide you
With all the factors to consider, you may still be confused about exactly how many walks your dog needs.
You should tailor the exercise to your pet. Your dog should be tired and content after its walks, but not completely exhausted. If your pet still seems bouncy and ready to go, they need more exercise. You could try taking a long walk or increasing the number of walks per day.
A tired dog is usually a happy dog and is less likely to suffer from behavioral problems. Don’t forget that you can also tire your dog out with some of our alternative forms of exercise (see below).
If you’re not sure how fit your dog is, try a 20-30 minute walk first and see how he’s doing. This can be built up gradually as your dog gets on well.
How much walking is too much?
You should not aim to take a young pup on a two-hour hike for example, and you shouldn’t expect an overweight brachycephalic pug to go jogging with you. If your dog is having trouble circling your chosen course, sits down for frequent rest periods, and generally appears tired, you’ve overdone it.
Alternative forms of exercise
In addition to walks, dogs also benefit from other forms of exercise. Including:
Agility involves overcoming obstacles such as ramps, tunnels and balance beams. It can be an excellent way to bond with, communicate with, and train your dog. Agility classes are fun and mentally stimulating for both dog and human.
Typically, Border Collies were the primary breed seen in competition volleyball, but now other races are getting involved. Dogs must be quick and able to coordinate catching the ball with speed. This sport is growing in popularity, so look for a group nearby for more information.
swimming or hydrotherapy
Swimming is a low-impact form of exercise. The joints are supported against the effects of gravity, making it a good option for those with painful conditions like arthritis. Working against the resistance of the water is good for building muscle mass and improving fitness. Hydrotherapy is a controlled way to do this and is a good option for animals with underlying health problems or after surgery.
But even healthy dogs like to swim. Visiting a creek or the local beach can be a great way to provide alternative exercise, which dogs especially appreciate in warmer weather.
Playing in the yard
Playing with your dog in the yard can still help burn off energy. Tug games or playing with interactive puzzle feeders are good ways to keep your dog engaged and stimulated. Scavenger hunts, where you hide treats or toys around the house and yard, can be a lot of fun. Small breed dogs also enjoy chasing balls in the park, although you may need more space for a larger breed.
How often you should walk your dog depends on several factors, including your own pet’s breed, age, and fitness level. Let them guide you; You should feel tired and content after a walk. If they’re still bouncing off the walls, they need more exercise. Don’t forget that other forms of activity can also help you exercise and bond with your dog. So consider exploring these in addition to your usual walks. If you are ever unsure, speak to your veterinarian who can point you in the right direction.