By Wag! Staff
Published: 03/01/2023, edited: 08/16/2023
As a pet parent, there are some dog-owning basics you really need to commit to. Dogs are wonderfully simple animals who really don’t need a lot to make them happy; consistent mealtimes, plenty of fuss and belly rubs, and, of course, regular exercise.
Walking the dog is a big part of the job description – every day, come rain or shine, whatever the weather. Opting out isn’t an option; your dog will love his walks and no doubt react excitedly to either a verbal command or even you just picking up his or her leash.
They probably even sense when it’s time for a walk, especially if – like many dog owners – you stick to a regular schedule. Delay that usual morning dog walk by even ten minutes and you might experience a pair of eyes staring directly at you, mentally willing you to put your sneakers on!
Before we cover off the title of this piece – how often should you walk your dog? – let’s have a recap on why dog walking is so important. It’s one of the best things you can do with your dog, in lots of different ways:
Walking is a great form of exercise – helping with weight control, joint health and mobility
Mental stimulation - walking is prime time for those activities many dogs love, such as sniffing, tracking scents and marking
Socialization - it’s where dogs typically see and meet other dogs
Toileting - a lot of dogs prefer to urinate and poop when out walking (don’t forget to pick up!)
Part of a routine - dogs love a routine, as it helps them know to expect through the day
Walking can help to tire dogs out - making them calmer and more relaxed at home
It’s great bonding time with their humans
It can prevent boredom – a bored dog can develop behavioral issues
Don’t forget that dog walking is beneficial for pet parents too. Not only do you get regular exercise, which helps your physical and mental health, you get some social interaction too with other dog walkers. Owning a dog makes you get out and about, which otherwise you might not do.
If you can’t always be available to walk your dog daily – perhaps due to work commitments – don’t neglect your pet. Book a walk with a Wag! caregiver so your dog can still get their exercise, even if you can’t.
Every dog needs to be walked, every day. But how often and for how long should you walk your dog? The answer comes down to a series of factors; no two dogs are the same, and ultimately you need to work out what suits yours best. In general, at least two 15-20 minute walks a day will be enough for many dogs, but some will need more or less than that. Things to consider when walking the dog include:
Some dogs might need to be walked 2-3 times a day – with one of those being a longer walk or a more physically demanding activity to keep them satisfied – while others may be perfectly content with one short walk, daily.
If your dog’s in great shape – great! A dog with no health issues is more likely to be physically fit enough to enjoy several walks during the day, but if your dog is in poorer health, you need to be more cautious.
Seek advice from your vet if your dog is overweight or even obese; they’re going to find walking more of a challenge, but still need exercise. Take it slowly. Be prepared to stop if your dog needs a rest. A short walk just to encourage movement can still be beneficial – and is important, along with diet – as part of a plan to reduce a dog’s weight.
For a dog living with arthritis, moderate exercise can help the condition but again, bear this in mind when planning the frequency and duration of any walks.
If your dog does have health issues, you could consider a specialist diet. Our friends at the Dog Food Advisor have some excellent recommendations for best dog foods for dogs with arthritis, and for weight loss.
If you have health concerns about your dog, pet insurance can help meet the costs of vet appointments and treatment, for a range of conditions. Whether you need pet insurance for the first time or want to compare providers, discover a range of quotes from leading insurers within seconds.
Combine a pet insurance plan with wellness cover, which takes care of many annual boosters and treatments, all in one easy package.
The age of your dog has a bearing on how often you should walk your dog. It’s obvious that senior dogs may slow down as they age, but you also need to consider the walking habits of much younger dogs.
A puppy walking routine is different to that of an adult dog; puppies may have bundles of energy but that doesn’t necessarily mean they can handle multiple long walks. How much exercise does a puppy need? It’s typically recommended that a puppy has around five minutes of walking for every month of its age, perhaps twice a day. Shorter walks are a good idea, especially as a puppy will still be adjusting to its new surroundings, with all the sights, sounds and smells it brings. Don’t overdo walking with a puppy; they can easily get tired and at their young age still need plenty of rest.
With an older dog, it’s probably best to let them set the pace and let them guide you, to a certain extent. Senior canines who are still fit will enjoy dog walks and it’s important that, despite being older, they remain active to help promote healthy joints and manage weight.
If you’re walking a senior dog, watch their behavior. They might tell you when they’re tiring, by stopping, lying down or even turning back to head home. This is your dog’s way of saying they’ve had enough for now; listen to them and don’t be tempted to push on. With older dogs, remember that the heart might be willing, but the legs are a little less able.
The breed of your four-legged friend has a major influence on how often you walk your dog. Some types of dog just need more exercise, and more often, than others – and this should be something you consider before buying or rehoming a dog.
If you’re an active type of person yourself, and want a high-energy type of breed that loves a good dog walk, then a dog that keeps you on your toes is perfect for you. If you’re not that physically active and don’t plan to be, a breed that needs fewer walks and less exercise generally is a better option.
Breeds that need lots of dog walks and physical activity include:
As a general guide, sporting breeds – including spaniels, retrievers, pointers – and working breeds – including collies, boxers, huskies – need lots of exercise and love being active. If your dog is one of these breeds, or similar, it probably won’t be completely happy with 2-3 20 minute walks a day. They might need two hours of exercise a day – including more intense activity like running or swimming – to really thrive.
Dogs with lower energy won’t need nearly as much exercise, so you’re looking at shorter walks in terms of both distance and time. If you don’t want a dog that needs lots of walking, then a breed of this type is better for you.
So-called lower energy breeds – those that need fewer and less intense dog walks – include:
What you might notice about these breeds is that there are significant differences in size – the Chihuahua and Great Dane being perfect examples – so it’s not as straightforward as small dogs needing less walking than bigger dogs. Breeds that are known as companion dogs don’t tend to want or need a lot of exercise; they’re happy with shorter strolls rather than strenuous activity and like to chill out around the home.
If you’re in any doubt at all, ask the breeder or rescue center about the exercise needs of the dog you’re thinking of bringing home. If you’ve already got a dog, take a look at our in-depth dog breed guides to learn how active it needs and likes to be.
If you’re not able to fit your pup’s walk into your day, book a local dog walker with Wag! to keep them active!
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