How Much Exercise Does A Dog Need Every Day?

Discover how much walking, hiking, and play sessions your pup needs.

You may have pats on the head, belly rubs, and nutritious treats well in hand when it comes to keeping your dog happy and healthy, but what about exercise? How much exercise does your dog really need every day?

"Exercise requirements in adult dogs can vary based on your dog's breed and if they have underlying conditions," says Dr. Carly Fox, staff veterinarian at NYC's Animal Medical Center.

For example, a five-year-old border collie requires much more exercise than a five-year-old French bulldog. Adults sporting and herding dogs like collies, shepherds, and golden retrievers need about one to one-and-a-half hours of exercise daily.

Whereas toy breeds like Pomeranians, Yorkies, dachshunds, and brachycephalic breeds (short-headed breeds that often have pushed-in faces) like pugs, Boston terriers, and boxers only need about half an hour to an hour a day.

If your dog happens to be a senior or has any underlying medical conditions, like arthritis, they still benefit from daily routine exercise. Typically, geriatric dogs are over eight years old for small breeds, over 10 years old for mid-size breeds, and over 11 years old for large breeds. "In general, they require 30-60 min of exercise, broken up into several sessions throughout the day," says Dr. Fox.

How Much Exercise Do Puppies Need?

Puppies are in an exercise class of their own. "Puppies have tons of energy but also require periods of rest (like a toddler)," Dr. Fox says. You should exercise or play with your pup in five to 10 minutes sessions. This timing will make the most of your play since they have loads of energy to burn off yet less stamina to go the distance than an adult dog. Be sure to allow them to nap and rest. When they're up again, they'll be ready for round two—or three, for that matter.

What's The Best Exercise For Dogs?

Just like people, dogs love various types of exercise and play. Most love a good walk or long hike. Others benefit from a more vigorous run with their owner. Many enjoy swimming, fetch, or agility. Some love playing with other dogs and wearing themselves out wrestling. For still others, a trip to the dog park where they can run, wrestle, and fetch all in one play session works well.

"The degree of exercise depends on your dog's level of fitness, breed, and age," says Dr. Fox. "In general, herding/sporting dogs can handle more prolonged periods of high-intensity exercises, like running and hiking."

Don't Overdo It

"Regardless of breed, any dog that begins to exercise regularly requires training periods, just like people. It's always better to start slow and increase the length and intensity of exercise gradually to prevent injury and excessive fatigue," Dr. Fox says.

Remember to exercise in warm weather early and later in the day so your dog doesn't get overheated. Let your pup be your guide when he's had enough. That pooped, tongue-hanging-out-of-the-side-of-his-mouth look can be a clue. Dogs are sufficiently tired when they lie down, heavily pant, stop playing, or lose interest. Be careful not to overdo it.

Remember that dogs benefit just as much from mental games like training, learning new tricks, puzzle toys, and obedience work.

Plus, the benefits of exercising your pet also extend to you. Fox says that people who walk their dogs regularly are less likely to be overweight, have heart disease, and have Type 2 diabetes. It's also fun and a great stress reliever for both of you. Now, that's a win-win situation.

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