Dogs love going outdoors or playing fetch - so it’s no wonder they’re built like lean, mean walking machines. But just how much exercise do our pups really need? Is there such a thing as walking them too much? Or too little? Let’s first take a look at some of the upsides to bringing our dogs out for exercise.
The Benefits of Exercise for Your Dog
No matter the age or the size, dogs need exercise - and they need exercise on a daily basis. For the everyday family, our busy lives make it hard to provide exactly what our pups need, but it pays to make the extra effort.
Improved Health and Wellbeing
The first major benefit is, of course, related to our dogs’ health. A good workout helps tone their muscles and boost their metabolism, something that’s absolutely vital for urban pups who are battling one of the worst doggy conditions they could have - obesity.
Overweight pups might seem “cute and cuddly”, but they are often at serious risk of a wide range of health problems including heart disease, higher blood pressure and arthritis in dogs, especially as they grow older. Sufficient exercise is vital for staving off obesity, and it even improves the general happiness of our pups!
Plus, dogs can actually become better behaved with exercise! Many problem behaviours in pups, from chewing up furniture to incessant barking, originate from their high levels of energy. Without any exercise, every ounce of energy they consume through their food goes into destructive behaviour as they try to release that pent up energy any way they can - even at the cost of their pet parents’ new couch.
Walking Puppies & Senior Dogs
All pups love walks - even our puppies and senior dogs!
Of course, dogs on either ends of the age spectrum tend to require a little less exercise. But exercise is nevertheless still important - walking is the beginning of puppy training and puppies need that exercise in order to boost their development into adult dogs, and senior dogs need exercise to keep their joints moving and keep arthritis and other bone health issues away.
But for puppies and senior dogs, it’s important to keep a close eye on how they’re faring on your walks. Make sure your senior pup isn’t experiencing pain or discomfort during their walks, as it could be an indicator that they may need to visit a vet for a bone health checkup. Make sure to include some supplements in their diet, such as NaturVet’s VitaPet Senior Daily Vitamins.
Puppies, on the other hand, will willingly over-exercise, simply because they don’t know any better. If you do over-exercise a growing puppy, they may overtire and it might take a toll on their still-developing joints, potentially resulting in early arthritis in dogs.
A general rule of thumb for puppies is to walk them 5 minutes per month of age until they’re fully grown - so 15 minutes when they’re three months old, and 20 minutes when they’re four. Of course, once they’ve matured into adult pups, they can go for much longer walks!
As for senior dogs, they’re typically less active as they grow older so shorter walks, around a maximum of 30 minutes at a time are great. But as aforementioned, make sure to take into account your pup’s energy and discomfort levels.
Tips for Exercising Your Dog
Before getting a pup, always make sure to check what type of exercise is suitable for that particular breed of dog. Some dogs are built for tonnes of exercise, and require a lot more walking than others, while other dogs just need a short daily walk. Some dogs like Greyhounds are also excellent at short-distance sprinting, but not so much for longer distances.
In general, more active breeds of dogs like German Shepherds require at least 30 minutes of hard aerobic exercise, preferably on the daily. Contrary to popular beliefs, toy or small dog breeds need exercise too - they’ll likely require a little less than their more active companions, but they still need daily walks.
Next, every dog needs a good leash, and Ruffwear’s Knot a Leash is a great starting leash to get your pup up to speed with their daily workouts. It’s also a good idea to track and record your pup’s daily exercise using tools like Pawbo’s iPuppyGo Activity Tracker, to make sure your dog is getting the right amount of exercise.
It’s also a good idea to bring out a dog bowl like ZippyPaws great Adventure Portable Outdoor dog bowl that’s perfect for giving your dog a sip of refreshing water and a good rest while you’re still outside.
Outside of taking your pups for walks, you could also give other outdoor activities for dogs like jogging a try - some dogs like Labrador Retrievers love distance-running and are great pacers for long jogs. Investing in a lightweight and comfortable harness like Ruffwear’s Hi & Light Harness will be great on your dog during longer jogs.
But remember not to run for too long, as our dogs aren’t able to sweat and will take much longer to cool down than us. If possible, keep out of the shade during long runs. In fact, avoid running during hot times of the day and make sure to involve your pup in some pre-workout exercises and warmups.
Explore all sorts of other avenues of exercise - from swimming and frisbee at the park to hiking and even agility training! For the adventurous outdoorsmen that love driving their pups around the country for hiking or different outdoor activities, give Outward Hound’s Back Seat Hammock a try as it’s sure to keep your car clean after long muddy walks in the outdoors.
Indoor exercise will never beat going out for walks in the real world, but with the recent COVID-19 situation, it might be difficult for you to bring your dog out for their much-needed walks. Nevertheless, it’s vital to keep your pup moving in every way you can.
A game of fetch seldom disappoints, especially if you couple it with some delicious treats from BARE or new KONG toys! You could also try to add a little more spice to a boring game of fetch. For instance, running up and down stairs is a great way to tire your dog out - you could stand at the top of the stairs and play fetch with your dog from there. You could also get your pup a pet exercise pen or some specialty dog exercise equipment that can help give your pup the workout they need.