How Much Activity Does Your Dog Need?

Have you brought home a new pup to be part of your family, or maybe you’re in the stage of researching the right breed for your circumstances? Either way, you’re interested in knowing which dog breeds must be exercised regularly for their physical and mental health and which are a little more laid back.

If you’re an active person, you may want a dog that can accompany you hiking, biking or running. Or, if you’re a city dweller with a small apartment, you may need a pet who doesn’t require hours of aerobic activity each day to achieve physical and mental fulfillment. Depending on your activity level, here are some breed categories :

  • Sporting Group. Dogs bred for sport do best with more than an hour of activity each day. Sporting dogs can vary in size, too — for example, a small Poodle may need nearly as much exercise as a larger Labrador Retriever.
  • Herding Group. Some of the herding breeds, which were designed to be on the go for several hours a day, do best with more than 90 minutes of exercise daily. These dogs can also get bored, and when they get bored, they become more likely to be destructive, so exercise to keep them physically and mentally satiated is vital so that they can be productive family members.
  • Working Group. These are dogs bred for a reason. Some are hunting dogs and some are guard dogs, but they tend to be intelligent and task-driven. Most are larger dogs and should have stimulating exercise — about an hour a day, but some of this can be games instead of straight walking or running.
  • Terrier Group. They range from small to large, but terriers are known for their high energy. You may not need to exercise them as much as a sporting breed, but plan on at least an hour per day of high-intensity exercise to wear these guys out.
  • Hound Group. Two types of hounds exist with different exercise requirements. Sight hounds like greyhounds need a few short bursts of energy per week, and are content to be more lazy the rest of the time. Scent hounds may need more exercise, similar to sporting dogs.
  • Toy Group. Just because a dog is little doesn’t mean he’s lazy. Small dogs do need plenty of exercise, but their small legs might mean that takes less time and space than would be required for a big herding dog. Watch that your toy dog doesn’t become overweight, as small dogs have a higher likelihood of packing on the pounds. Some small dogs like pugs need special care, as their breathing issues can make exercise more difficult.

Finding the Right Amount of Activity

When you first bring home your new puppy, it won’t be able to exercise for long periods. Puppies are still growing and need special care to develop into healthy adult dogs. You’ll want to wait until your dog is at least a year old before engaging in high-intensity exercise.

However, even if you have a young dog or one that has not exercised much, you can work up to providing regular aerobic activity. Check first with your pet’s veterinarian to make sure he or she is cleared for exercise, and keep in mind what your pet’s breed was designed to do. Small dogs, those with short legs or those bred to be sprinters won’t do well running long distances, for example. And pets that have a tendency towards joint problems or hip dysplasia may not be good candidates for intense exercise.

Every dog can enjoy regular walks, though. And if your schedule doesn’t permit you to exercise your pet regularly, you can still make sure he or she is active….there’s an app for that 😉

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