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As pet parents, we understand that our canine companions need exercise to be healthy, but, some may not realize that certain breeds need more exercise than others. Plus, some pet parents may not understand that exercise provides a dog with not only physical health benefits but mental health benefits as well.
Why do dogs need daily exercise?
In short, dogs need exercise to be both mentally and physically happy. Most breeds need at least thirty minutes each day of exercise, but some breeds are simply not happy with that minimum amount.
Dogs have a deep sense of purpose, particularly dog breeds that were developed to be working dogs. While that adorable little Pug is happy to take a couple of brief walks each day, an Australian Cattle Dog will not. The same could be said for Labrador Retrievers or for German Shepherds.
A recent social media post discussed the popularity of a new movie Dog with Channing Tatum. The poster warned potential pet parents against going out and purchasing a Belgian Malinois just because the dog is cute and the movie is funny. There’s a reason why the poster did so—Belgian Malinois dogs are bred with a definitive purpose, and they genuinely love to work. They are typically police dogs, assisting in drug detection or other police activities. They need a great deal of training, and, much like the dog in the movie, when they don’t get proper activity to stimulate their brains, they can become destructive. As the poster related, usually, that’s when a great dog ends up in a shelter.
Simply put, certain dog breeds have been utilized for years, sometimes centuries, to work alongside humans who understand how to handle them. They are happiest when serving their purpose. In lieu of a dog working as a police dog or as a support animal, pet parents with dogs of this group of breeds must provide these dogs with appropriate activity in order to keep them from finding activity in other ways—including tearing up furniture or otherwise being destructive. Remember, a tired dog is a good dog.
How much exercise do puppies need?
Puppies need a moderate amount of exercise, and they do tend to exercise in short bursts. This is typically followed up with a nap! For puppies, no matter the breed, exercise sessions of no more than ten minutes are appropriate.
Here’s where things get tricky. Puppies of differing breeds need different levels of exercise. Aim for about three ten-minute sessions each day. However, if you begin to observe your puppy becoming bored, you may need to add 10 – 20 extra minutes of exercise per day.
It is important to ensure that your puppy has to chew toys during this stage of life for a few different reasons. Puppies are like human babies in that their adult teeth will come in at some point, and having a chew toy will help to alleviate any pain or discomfort that comes with this stage. It’s easier to determine if boredom is causing an adult dog to chew, but not so easily where puppies are concerned. Puppies can work off extra energy by chewing and alleviate the discomfort of teething at the same time.
The more you play with your puppy, the more you’ll understand when Fido is tired and needs to rest. This will also help the two of you to bond, but always be careful not to overdo with your young dog.
What are some exercise guidelines for the typical adult dog?
Believe it or not, there really are “low-energy” breed dogs. These dogs are happy as lapdogs, and they’re likely to spend the bulk of their time curled up beside you for a nap.
These dogs need about thirty minutes of exercise (the equivalent of two good fifteen-minute walks twice daily). You can provide some chew toys or a food activity puzzle for additional activity, and they will be perfectly happy.
Keep in mind, however, some of these low-energy breeds may experience separation anxiety while you are away. These dogs could benefit from some extra exercise, or you may need to crate them while you are at work or out running errands.
What are some low-energy breeds?
There are three groups of dogs that are less active dog breeds. The first is the toy group. This group includes small dogs from the Maltese to the Chihuahua to the Yorkie. These dogs will only require 30 minutes to 60 minutes of activity each day, and they are happiest to simply be with you. The Maltese will enjoy a game of fetch with you in addition to daily walks.
Potential pet parents might be surprised to find that giant dog breeds typically don’t need a lot of exercises either! Dogs such as Great Danes and Mastiffs would much rather laze around than be outdoors running down a butterfly that flew too low and caught their attention. These dogs would enjoy a food puzzle toy especially. The food puzzle toy allows dogs to exercise their minds. You’ll place a treat inside (some pet parents will put peanut butter in the food puzzle toy also), offer to Fido, then watch as he tosses, shakes, and chews in an effort to get to the treat. These dogs have to “work” their brains to figure out how to get the treat out, and they enjoy this activity as much as a good run outdoors. Check our list of the best indestructible dog toys for your power chewers.
Another breed that does not require much exercise is a group of dogs called brachycephalic dogs . These dogs have a “flat” face and a short snout that can make breathing difficult for them if the dog becomes overexerted or too hot. These dogs include many bulldog breeds—the English Bulldog, the French Bulldog. However, Pugs, Shih Tzus, and Boston Terriers are all a part of this group of dogs. These dogs need less than one hour of activity each day, and it is best if pet parents provide this exercise when it is not hot outdoors. Those who live in humid areas must remember the same thin—humidity can affect the breathing of these little dogs. It may be best to break down exercise sessions for these dogs as one would a puppy. Exercise sessions should be no more than fifteen minutes per session for an adult brachycephalic dog. However, if you notice the dog is panting heavily or seems tired, cut the session short and allow Fido to rest.
What about senior dogs?
Exercise amounts and what is appropriate for an older dog may be difficult to determine. Some older dogs are still quite spry, and they may move very well. Other senior dogs may begin to experience arthritis and joint pain that can significantly slow them down.
Older dogs may begin to show signs of tiring more quickly when they previously had walked thirty minutes with no problems in their prime.
Older dogs still need a minimum of thirty minutes each day, but you may want to get creative with how you provide exercise. If your dog has a great deal of joint pain, you may want to consider taking him for a swim (if facilities are available). Just as it does with humans, water provides resistance so that muscles get worked properly, but it alleviates pressure on the joints.
Some pet parents will also provide their dogs with joint supplements that can help to alleviate stiffness in joints.
What are the more active dog breeds?
There are five groups of dog breeds that are considered more active breeds. These are terriers, shepherds, retrievers, pointers, and scent hounds. There are some exceptions.
The Boston Terrier is a brachycephalic dog that does NOT need more than 30 – 45 minutes of activity each day. They can experience breathing issues, and they could even go into cardiac arrest if they are unable to breathe properly for a certain amount of time.
The Basset Hound is a scent hound, but he’s a tad lazy. The Basset Hound would rather nap all day than play chase or go fetch.
However, Labrador Retrievers, Blood Hounds, German Shepherds, and Jack Russell Terrier dogs all need at least one hour of exercise each day. In fact, those particular breeds would do well with ninety minutes of exercise! There are some creative ways to provide activity for these dogs, however.
Do I have to commit to walking my dog for the recommended time each day?
No! There are some neat ways to provide activity for all dogs, and they aren’t very dramatic, either.
A dog’s exercise routine can include several activities. If you have a backyard, particularly if it is fenced in or you have a wireless dog fence, then set up a few “obstacles” for Fido (think obstacle course). These don’t have to be complicated. You can hang a tetherball from a strong limb that Fido can play with. You can haul it in a kiddie pool (it needs to be of the most durable material) and fill it with sand. This works especially well for dogs that love to dig anyway, and it saves your yard from damage. During the summer, you can also provide a pool filled with water (again, durable plastic) so that Fido can splash around and beat the high temps at the same time.
Check to see if there is a dog park near you. The dog park will have obstacles like those mentioned above and more. Dogs can also interact with other canines at the dog park, and there are walking lanes for dogs at the dog park.
Take Fido to the park and play a game of fetch or Frisbee. Just be sure to get a doggie Frisbee; traditional Frisbees can damage your dog’s mouth. Some dogs enjoy running on the beach and playing the same games. The use of the best GPS dog fences and dog GPS trackers ensures you can keep track of your pet’s location.
1. Is walking enough exercise for a dog?
For many dogs, yes. However, sporting breeds of dogs that were developed for “work” will need to get a variety of exercise in order to be happy and healthy. This may mean something as simple as playing fetch or taking a trip to the dog park. If you are only able to provide walks for your dog, though, you may need to provide up to ninety minutes of exercise for more active breeds.
2. How many walks a day does a dog need?
Most dogs need at least two fifteen-minute walks per day. However, more active breeds may need four of these brisk walks. Pet parents can offer dogs a variety of activities if ninety minutes of walk time isn’t feasible. Playing fetch or offering activity toys can keep your dog mentally healthy just as those walks each day can.
3. Is a 30-minute walk enough for a dog?
For most dogs, yes, a thirty-minute walk is more than enough exercise for a dog. However, pet parents should provide mental activity toys such as chew toys or food puzzle toys if they want to prevent boredom in their canine companions.
4. How many hours a day should a dog be exercised?
Most dogs need between thirty minutes and sixty minutes of exercise each day. However, sporting breeds or those considered working dogs—Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, and Belgian Malinois—may need up to ninety minutes of exercise each day.
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