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How Much Exercise Do Dogs Actually Need?

You know that exercise is important for your dog. It helps keep them fit and healthy and can even help regulate their behavior. You try to get them out for walks and play time, but you might be wondering if your dog is getting enough movement in their day.


dog in harness ready for dog walk in Bel Air, MD

There are a few things that go into determining how much exercise an individual dog needs. Your dog’s age plays a part as well as their breed and their physical condition. Thankfully, we’ve broken it down to help you figure out just how much exercise is right for your dog.



How Much Exercise Do Puppies Need?


It’s one of the cutest things in the world when a puppy is jumping and playing… and then suddenly falls asleep. Puppies are full of energy, but since they’re still growing, that energy can come in spurts. Puppies certainly need to nap frequently. In fact, too much activity is actually bad for a growing puppy. It can damage growth plates and the cartilage in their joints and negatively impact their skeletal system.


While there’s certainly no hard and fast rule when it comes to how much to exercise your pup, there are some good general rules of thumb you can follow.


First up, you want to consider your puppy’s breed. An active, working breed, for example, will certainly need more exercise than a brachycephalic dog like an English Bulldog. That’s why it’s important to learn as much as you possibly can about your dog’s breed (or breeds). This will give you a starting point when it comes to their general exercise needs.


You’ll also want to consider your dog’s size. A larger dog doesn’t necessarily need more exercise. In fact, exercising a large breed too much can lead to orthopedic issues down the line. Again, consider your dog’s unique breed and do your research!


Finally, think about your pup’s age. Older puppies could use more exercise while really young pups need lots of rest.



How Much Exercise Do Adult Dogs Need?


If you have an adult dog, the amount of exercise they need starts to vary a lot more. Some breeds, like the varieties of terriers, are very high energy and need a lot of exercise. Working breeds like Australian Shepherds, Siberian Huskies, and Border Collies are also very high energy. Greyhounds can best be described as lazy with bursts of energy, but when they need to run, they need to run. Pugs, Bulldogs, and Basset Hounds are all lower energy. Depending on the breed, your dog needs between 30 minutes and 2 hours of exercise a day with some needing even more.


You can tell if your dog is getting enough exercise by his behavior. If your dog always seems to be on the move, chews on things while you’re gone, and seems to be up to general shenanigans, it may be a sign they need more activity. If your dog is getting enough exercise, they should be able to relax when you do and go to bed at the same time you do. You may have to try varying amounts of exercise to find out which one is perfect for your dog.



Exercising Senior Dogs


As your dog gets older, his energy levels will start to drop a bit, but he will probably still have days when he’s feeling young and active. Senior dogs still need activity. It helps smooth the aging process by keeping muscles strong, reducing stress, and keeping weight off of joints that may be sore from wear and tear. Your dog may have active days and not so active days. You will have to gauge your dog's behavior to determine how much activity, and the appropriate type for any age related problems, is right.


senior dog how much exercise


Dog Friendly Exercises


Energy level should be something that is considered when you get a dog, but that doesn’t mean you have to be a marathon runner to have a high energy dog. There are lots of activities you can do with dogs from all energy levels.


  • Hiking and walking- These are the obvious choices and the easiest to accomplish. Walking and hiking don’t have to be boring though. Try different routes, and explore areas you didn't know existed (safely, of course). Use some walks as opportunities for a “sniff walk” which will exercise your dog’s brain and body. Over time, you can increase your distance as you and your dog build endurance together.


  • Swimming- If you have access to a dog friendly pool, or enjoy time at a lake during the summer, swimming is a great exercise for dogs. It’s especially good if you have a senior dog or a dog with joint problems. You can also try walking them in water that is just at shoulder level. This takes pressure off the joints and makes walking easier for them.


  • An Agility Course- You don’t have to spend money on expensive agility equipment. You can find instructions for building a DIY agility course online. The great thing about agility is that it takes concentration, so your dog will be getting mental exercise as well.


  • Fetch- Toss a ball, a disc, anything your dog can run after and bring back to you. This is perfect for the days when you aren’t feeling as up to activity as your dog.

  • Biking- If you can’t keep up with your dog on foot, then you might want to consider cycling with your dog. Note that you’ll need to get your dog used to being near your bike and get a special leash designed for biking. Only do this with dogs that can keep up with a bicycle. This would be good with a Husky… and terrible with a Pug.



What If You Don’t Have Time To Exercise With Your Dog?


If work has gotten busy or you suddenly find yourself short on time and you don’t want your dog to suffer, that's where we come in. Along with pet sitting, Your Pet AuPair offers dog walking services. We’ll get your dog out into the fresh air, and you won’t need to worry that your dog is getting sedentary. We provide you with a report detailing your dog's walk as well as pictures of your dog out and about. Plus, walks are GPS monitored for your peace of mind!


Check out our Services Page to find out more about the dog walking services we offer in the Bel Air, MD area!


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