As busy pet parents, we know all too well how easy it can be to excuse ourselves from working out. One cheat day can easily snowball into a week, and then a month, and it’s easy to justify that we deserve a break.
For dogs, however, exercise is a shared activity, and one they really need you to help them maintain. Dogs require exercise for good physical and mental health…but how much is enough and how much is too much?
The answer depends on a variety of factors. Every dog is unique, and their age, breed, and overall health all play a role in getting the right amount of exercise they need. While there’s no hard solution for how much exercise they should get, we can help you get a ruff understanding to ensure that your pup stays healthy and fit, all while strengthening your bond.
Puppies vs. adults
Age is more than just a number. Your dog’s age can help determine their physical needs. If you’ve ever witnessed the lather-rinse-repeat cycle of puppy zoomies followed by promptly passing out into their dinner, you probably know that puppy activity is marked by extremes.
Generally speaking, puppies have more energy than adult dogs, but it tends to crop up in short spurts. Think of it this way: in the canine Olympics, puppies would make ideal sprinters while mature dogs would excel in endurance marathons. To provide an outlet for your growing puppy, opt for frequent, short walks and play sessions so they get the physical activity they need without being worn out or over stimulated. In addition to health benefits, exercise also helps train your dog (regardless of age) to foster proper social behaviors both in and outside of your home.
Adult dogs tend to have more consistent needs, so setting a regular schedule of walks and playtime can be beneficial to you both. If you notice that your dog has excess energy after walks, it may be a sign that they need more activity. You may consider prolonging exercise time or adding in another short session. On the flip side, if your dog seems to have trouble keeping up, you might want to tone down the intensity or frequency.
Just like puppies and mature dogs, your senior pet needs to get in their steps as well. While they may not be able to go as far as they once did, or even run at all, exercise is essential for maintaining a healthy weight, and ir can help prolong their lives. If you notice that your furry friend is having trouble keeping up or may be in pain after walks, you can talk to your vet about creating a proper exercise plan suited to their current needs. Remember, physical activity should be enjoyable, so observe their behavior before and after walkies to determine how much your dog can handle comfortably.
Your dog’s breed can have a significant impact on their energy levels and how much exercise they need. Breeds like border collies, terriers, and most varieties of shepherds have been raised over centuries to be high-energy and require frequent physical stimulation, which can shine through if your pup has those lines in them. On the other hand, breeds like bulldogs, pugs, and basset hounds tend to be less energetic and can tire easily from strenuous activity. If you know your dog’s breed, factor that in when creating an exercise plan for them. This can be particularly important if their heritage makes them prone to certain medical conditions like heart disease, respiratory issues, or hip problems.
Exercising your dog isn’t just limited to walks around the block. Hiking, playing fetch, and swimming are great options to vary your routine. On rainy or snow days, your pup can burn off steam by running on stairs, bouncing around your home, and engaging in interactive play with toys. Remember that dogs are impacted by extreme temps and can get frostbite or heatstroke, depending on the weather. That means bundling up against the cold during winter and taking proper care during scorching summer temps.