How Much Activity Does My Dog Need?
This is a complicated question. The amount of daily activity for dogs will differ depending on the breed, age, and health of your dog. In this post, we’ll dive into some recommendations. Ultimately, this is a great topic to discuss with your veterinarian, since you both have an understanding of your pet’s total well-being. Dogs need two different types of activity: exercise and mental stimulation.
When dogs lack either of these, they tend to get into trouble, acting out behaviorally and destroying items they shouldn’t. Proper nutrition, exercise and mental stimulation can be achieved in a variety of different ways and can be great fun for both you and your dog. Pet health experts recommend that depending on the size of the breed, the age of the dog, and the dog’s overall health, anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours of activity is recommended per day.
Photo courtesy of Well Pet Coach
Toy or Small Dog Breeds
The smaller the breed the less exercise will be required and the exercise should be appropriate for the build of the breed. This means we wouldn’t take a French bulldog for a three-mile trail run. Chasing a toy, indoors or outdoors, or frolicking around the yard, can achieve the 30 minutes of healthy activity in a smaller breed needs. More than this may cause respiratory problems or other injuries. Be sure to consult with an expert about your specific breed and dog.
Terrier or Medium Sized Dog Breeds
These breeds are built to work and will require more exercise and mental stimulation than their smaller, more delicate cousins. Terriers were bred to hunt or chase down a certain type of prey, from foxes to rats, and as such have more energy and durability. This results in the need for a higher amount of exercise and stimulation to keep them healthy and out of trouble. Depending on your breed you could be looking at closer to an hour or two of activity per day.
Retrievers and Large Breed Dogs
These are dogs that mature to weigh between 45 and 99 pounds. Like Terriers, Labradors, Retrievers, Huskies, Shepherds and Poodles were bred to work as well as to be companion animals. These dogs are smart and have a high level of energy, requiring between 60 to 90 minutes (sometimes more) of exercise per day. As these dogs start to age, their level of physical activity will diminish and pet owners should watch for signs of hip injuries or conditions like dysplasia. Talk to your vet about your specific breed and which types of exercise and stimulation are best for your dog.
Extra Large Dog Breeds
Extra large dogs are breeds that weigh in excess of 100 pounds at maturity. These dogs will typically require between 30 to 60 minutes of exercise per day depending on their age, weight and health. Your Mastiffs, Great Danes and other large breed dogs will have a lower energy level than their large dog breed cousins. You should talk to your vet regarding your specific breed and dog to avoid injury and ensure the best quality of life for your XL fur baby.
From fetch, to tug, and wrestling to playing with other dogs, there are a number of different ways to exercise your dog. If you live by a local dog park, off-leash play provides both exercise and socialization (which is a form of mental stimulation that we’ll talk about later).
While your Fido might love to chase a good stick, there are a few dangers when using objects that can break. We prefer to a good ball, rubber disk, stick alternative, or even a partially deflated soccer ball.
Walking or Hiking
Get outside and enjoy some quality time with your pet by walking or hiking. Take in the views while your pup takes in the scents, and raise your heart rate together. Depending on the area and ownership of the land, you may be required to keep your dog on a leash or lead. If your dog tends to be nervous or should not be approached, visit our post on how to help minimize frightening situations for your pet.
When both you and your dog can use a bit of exercise, running is a great option. Running can also help keep your pets nails trimmed, but be sure to keep an eye on the pads and nails to avoid injury. Pavement can heat up in the sun causing burns in the summer, and salt from winter road maintenance can burn as well. When jogging or running with your pet, we recommend a comfortable and snug fitting harness, with a non-extendable, durable leash.
Whether it’s in your backyard, at daycare or the local dog park, romping and wrestling with other dogs is a total body workout for your fur baby. Dogs jump, run, and get a myriad of exercise when playing with other dogs. And, you get to stand by and enjoy their happy antics! Remember it’s a good idea to engage with other dog owners before allowing your dog to play, and staying engaged to make sure play doesn’t get too rough.
Dogs are intelligent and sentient creatures, and just like humans, they can get bored. As they look for means to entertain themselves, it is helpful to have a variety of toys on hand so that your dog opts for something of their own rather than your shoe.
Terriers and hunting dogs have an inherent prey drive. They were bred to hunt. Now that many of us don’t hunt they need another way to occupy their time. Toys, especially ones that make noise are a great option. You can find an array of different priced options in various sizes.
A number of different retailers now offer puzzles for your pet. You load them with treats and give to your pet for mental stimulation. The puzzles make the dog work to find the treats, providing an entertaining and rewarding challenge. There are also some great ways to make your own dog puzzles on sites like Pinterest.
Hide and Go Seek
Not all stimulation requires you to shell out cash. Some dogs can learn and love to play hide and go seek. The downside is that you are the one that always ends up hiding. This provides a bit of exercise as well, as they run around trying to find their favorite human who has magically disappeared.
Check in your area for canine classes – The sport of dogs has grown in the last few years. Along with Obedience classes, there are Nose work classes, Fit paws – Fun and Fitness Classes for your K-9 friend, Agility, Rally, Trick Dog, and Canine Good Citizen. All of these will stimulate your pet and you to be active, spend time together, and grow.
Activity is a great way to bond with your dog and create a beautiful, lifelong friendship. Your dog will be more healthy, content, and less mischievous, and so will you! 😊