Dogs come in all shapes, sizes, and energy levels. But no matter how big or small, exercise is an essential part of raising a healthy pooch.
For some, a daily walk might be all it takes—especially if your dog has a yard to romp in. For others, it might take multiple walks, a play session or two, and even a trip to the park to keep them satisfied.
To help your pup live their best life, it's important to figure out how much exercise they need.
As a general guideline, pet parents should aim for about 30 minutes of exercise per day.
However, the exact amount of activity that’s best for your dog depends on a number of factors.
If you have a low-to-mid energy breed, you might only have to take them on a morning walk to meet their needs. French bulldogs, for example, require less exercise—and too much can actually be harmful to them.
Athletic or working dogs on the other hand, will require (and ask for!) significantly more activity and stimulation.
No matter what, all breeds need some type of regular exercise.
Look for cues in your dog's behavior. Are they chewing up your shoes? They could be letting out pent up energy. In fact, many behavioral issues are linked to exercise. An over-active pup trapped in an under-active environment can grow destructive.
Also think about your dog’s mood. It is easy to confuse a lazy dog with a depressed one. Does your dog lay around all day because they're a couch potato, or is it because they’re lacking stimulation? Depression and lack of exercise often go hand-in-hand (for both dogs and people).
A dog who can run around a yard all day needs less exercise than one who lives in an apartment building—if they use it, that is. If your dog just goes out to use the bathroom, the yard isn't doing them any favors.
So it’s important to think about how your dog lives. Are they lazing on the couch most days, or are they up and playing? Identifying your dog's day-to-day lifestyle can help you plan an appropriate exercise routine.
For a healthy and happy dog, it’s important to balance both diet and exercise. If your dog is overweight, you likely need to increase their activity level and potentially decrease how much food they consume, but don't make any diet changes until you speak with a vet.
Some dogs (especially active ones) can control their hunger and only eat when hungry. However, many dogs will continuously eat throughout the day—often overeating. The link between boredom and lack of exercise can also contribute to overeating.
Be sure to measure out your dog's food according to the weight and activity chart on the back of the dog food label. This can help prevent overeating while ensuring your pup is getting the right amount of nutrition based on their activity level.
As your dog ages, their energy level tends to drop. But, that doesn't necessarily mean they require less exercise. While you might trade your long runs through the park for gentle laps on the trail, adequate exercise is still important.
Try adapting the intensity of your dog’s exercise to accommodate for aging joints. You can also consider adding supplements specifically formulated for healthy hips and joints so activity isn't as difficult or painful for them.
Ultimately, keeping your dog active is important for maintaining their lifelong mobility. Just be certain you aren't pushing a growing or aging dog too hard.
It can be challenging for pup parents to find the time in their hectic schedules to meet their dog's exercise needs. It can help to break exercise time into shorter, more manageable intervals. Ten minutes of vigorous activity several times a day is an easy and practical strategy for most pet parents, and adds up to a healthier lifestyle.
Above all, remember that your dog depends on you. It's up to you to keep them healthy and happy, so go the extra mile to meet their needs. They'll surely return the favor in the form of endless kisses and years of companionship.