How Much Exercise Does A Dog Need
Dog Care Tips · Dog Exercise

How Much Exercise Does A Dog Need? [Puppy, Adult, Senior]

Last Updated/Info Checked on March 28, 2023 by Linda Michaels

Your dog may have started getting zoomies all of a sudden. They are not a matter of concern but definitely a matter of consideration.

The behavior means that the dog’s energy requires an outlet. What better way to give it that than an exercise?

Also read: Complete dog exercise guide

But How Much Exercise Does a Dog Need?

On average, a dog needs 30 to 60 minutes of exercise, depending on its breed, sex, and most of all, activity.

Small dogs require 30 minutes, while large and active dogs may require an hour. Senior dogs, on the other hand, require moderate exercise.

How much exercise does a puppy need?

Puppies have fragile bones. They are still under development, so any undue pressure on them could lead to deformation or poor growth.

That’s the reason why we trainers and vets recommend that you let a puppy have its way when it comes to playing and resting.

It will play when it wants and when it’s tired, it will curl up somewhere to re-energize.

However, if your puppy is getting multiple zoomies a day, you may want to incorporate small walks in your backyard to get that extra energy out.

More than that, however, at a pup’s age, you should focus on mental stimulation and obedience training. 

As it gets older, start incorporating longer exercises by first talking to your vet because each dog has its own requirements. 

You could also be a good judge of that, given you understand your pet’s limits.

In all fairness, be gentle with a pup from a small breed because they are more prone to bone-related issues when taken on long walks.

Also, make sure you have thoroughly checked the dog for early issues that take a dark turn ahead such as hip dysplasia.

How much exercise does a senior dog need?

Senior dogs require a lot of rest, that’s true. However, they should not be exempted from exercise at all.

They still need to flex their muscles. A 30-minute daily walk would suffice for that. 

Make sure you don’t overburden their weak bones with more exercise. Also, avoid intensive ones such as running, jumping, or others that might overburden their skeleton.

Normally, their behavior would tell you how much exercise they need. 

Some well-kept dogs in old age may be active enough to require more than a 30-minute walk. However, they are a few.

Related: How much exercise does a german shepherd need?

Related: How much exercise does a border collie need?

Also read: How much exercise does a french bulldog need?

What Type of Exercises Can a Dog Do?

Walking isn’t just the only exercise. There are some routines you could follow to supplement it.

Outdoor Exercises 

I highly recommend the following exercises outdoors.

1. Hiking

Hiking is not just a physical activity for you and your dog but also a mental one.

Reserve a day per week to take your dog hiking.

2. Swimming

Swimming is another outdoor exercise that a dog enjoys. However, you must take your dog breed’s specialty into account.

Some breeds such as Huskies are not naturally inclined toward swimming. Compared to them, water breeds such as Portuguese Water Dog are built for it.

You can still manage to train your dog appropriately to like this activity because it’s not a hard and fast rule that a certain breed does not like swimming at all.

3. Fetch

Play fetch with your dog in multiple settings to spice up its routine. 

You could throw a ball uphill to add intensity to the activity or choose an open ground to spend the evening well.

4. Sports

You may want to enroll the dog in one of the dog sports, depending on its breed. 

Scenthounds, for example, are perfect for lure coursing where a toy or a mechanical lure is used to set competitions between dogs.

Similarly, scent games are devised for scent hounds.

5. Dog Sledding

You could also try dog sledding, also called draft work, which involves a dog pulling a sled or a cart.

However, be mindful of the negative aspects of overburdening the pet because not all have the capacity to act like sled dogs.

Indoor Exercises

Besides outdoor exercises, you can also devise some indoors to keep the dog’s blood pumping well.

1. Treadmill

You may have seen those hilarious videos of pets running or walking on treadmills.

They serve as one of the best indoor machines to let your pet enjoy walking without having to go out.

One of the steps in getting it used on a treadmill is choosing the right setting. You shouldn’t go overboard!

2. Stairs

Whether it’s a lack of a treadmill or your will to add more routines, both ways, stairs work magic.

Here, you can add up games such as “fetch” to encourage the dog upstairs and then back.

Going up and down the stairs serves as a reliable cardio exercise.

3. Build small agility courses

Back to the internet videos, you may have seen dogs running through small agility courses built indoors.

Use boxes, toys, or flags to mark an obstacle in your house and take your dog through them.

Such courses make sure the dog doesn’t just get physically but also mentally stimulated.

4. Nose work

Buy one of the hidden feeders that make eating a tad bit harder. 

As dogs tend to devour everything in one go, they often end up with gastrointestinal problems. 

That’s where the feeders come in to slow things down but also provide your pet with the necessary dose of mental work.

5. Tug of war

Dogs love tugging at things. Use that to your advantage and play tug of war.

You can use anything from a rope to a cloth.

When playing this game, make sure that you use vocal commands in conjunction in hopes of incorporating obedience training as well.

For example, when the dog’s tugging, you could make it “sit”.

How many walks does a dog need a day?

Dogs generally need one to two walks per day to reach the required level of exercise. 

However, you need to take the breed into account before deciding the frequency. 

Small dogs such as Chihuahuas require at least three walks per day that collectively account for 30 minutes. That means you’ll have to take it out for three ten-minute walks.

Compared to that, a Doberman will only require a single walk for an hour or two walks 30 minutes each. 

Is it OK not to walk your dog every day?

It’s completely okay if you missed walking your dog for a day. Sometimes they need a day’s break to recover from the week’s exercises.

However, you shouldn’t miss too many days because keeping the dog idle for a long period may cause negative health and behavioral aspects.

I suggest that you keep your pet mentally stimulated even on a no-walk day.

  • Use toys or one of the indoor games mentioned above to add a bit of movement.
  • Adjust the dog’s routine around potty walks.
  • Throw a dog party as a treat for being a good boy.

What happens if you don’t walk your dog?

Prolonged inactivity could result in health and behavioral problems. Their muscles could get weaker.

Not getting enough outlet for their energy, a dog may also become violent or destructive.

You may see them nibble on the sofa instead of the toys.

Worse yet, some dogs develop excessive barking. You’d see them bark at things big and small. Whether it’s a shadow outside the window or another dog minding its business, they will get triggered easily by them.

All that considered, look for the signs that a dog needs exercise that is usually easy to tell from the way they behave.

What happens when you over-exercise a dog?

Over-exercising a dog is equally possible as under-exercising it.

Here, too, you’ll find signs that will show the effects of taking your dog out for a lot of walks or exercising it more than its capacity.

1. Lethargy

The first sign is a tired dog.

Your pet would want to stay put in a place. It will lose interest in even the smallest tasks such as getting up to curl in your lap.

However, you may want to get it checked if it’s showing a lack of interest despite receiving the right amount of exercise. 

Lethargy is also a sign of some underlying health conditions.

2. Wear and tear

Another sign of getting too much exercise is apparent wear and tear in the paws. 

You may want to check them when the dog’s too tired to do anything besides resting.

Small cracks will have appeared, indicating that they have been used excessively or beyond their capacities.

3. Muscle and joint stiffness

Over-exercising may also lead to muscle and joint stiffness.

A lack of proper hydration is one of the primary causes of such a condition.

Even when the dog’s drinking enough, excessive sweating can deplete its water reserves faster, especially, in summer. 

Watch out for muscle twitching, weak legs, loose skin, and faster painting as they are a sign of dehydration.

4. Aggressiveness

Some dogs are prone to behavioral inconsistencies because of external stress.

Since I’m talking about over-exercising the dog, you may see signs such as reluctance to go out with you, growling when you pick up the leash, or not letting you near its legs.

It’s a natural response to tell owners that they need to stop doing something even after repeated attempts of stopping them. 

5. Timidness

Opposed to aggression, some dogs develop a fear of doing something when it’s done frequently and excessively.

Hiding behind doors, under the bed, vocalizing, and whining are some of the signs to look for. 

Expert tips for dog exercise

Throughout my journey as a dog trainer, I have learned the following things that are worthy to share.

  • Do not force your dog to exercise. Use creative positive reinforcement to encourage it.
  • You are the best judge of your dog’s capacity. However, refrain from getting unrealistic. They are living beings with limitations. For example, expecting a Chihuahua to walk for miles without getting tired is unrealistic.
  • Maintain hydration. Take water with you even if you’re going out for a short walk.
  • Keep distractions at bay. Avoid choosing a walking track that has stray dogs, too many cars, and other animals.
  • Let the dog take over for small instances to let it relish different smells and sights.
  • Refrain from using weightlifting exercises.
  • Listen to the dog’s necessities. Take things slowly.
  • Do not take an unvaccinated puppy outside.
  • If your dog is reluctant to walk, create a routine around its poop timing.
  • Also, focus on playdates to add something new to its routine.

How Much Exercise Does A Dog Need? Conclusion

Dogs need at least 30 to 60 minutes of exercise, depending on their breed, sex, and age. Adult small dogs and senior dogs require 30 minutes, adult large dogs require 60 minutes, while puppies should be left at their will and not taken out unvaccinated.

Despite this information, you should be the judge of your dog’s needs for exercise. This isn’t a hard and fast rule.

However, keep an eye on the signs of over-exercising a dog. Remember, each dog has a capacity, and going beyond it proves unhealthy.

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