By Mel Lee-Smith
Published: 02/08/2021, edited: 03/08/2022
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Regular exercise. We all need it to stay fit and healthy, and so do our dogs.
But how much exercise does your dog need each day? What are the signs your dog isn’t getting enough exercise? Is it possible for a pooch to have too much exercise?
The truth is that the right amount of exercise for your pet varies depending on a wide range of factors. Keep reading to find out what they are and how you can work out how much physical activity your dog really needs.
Factors that affect your dog’s exercise needs
There are three main factors that affect how often (and for how long) your dog needs to raise their heart rate.
Age. Your dog’s activity requirements change as they grow older. For example, you need to manage your puppy’s high energy levels alongside the need to protect developing bones and joints, while senior dogs will gradually slow down as they age. We’ll take a closer look at the exercise needs of dogs at different life stages further down the page.
Breed. Your pup’s breed also plays a huge role in determining how much exercise they need. For example, a dog bred to work, like a Border Collie or Australian Cattle Dog, will need a whole lot more regular activity than a breed like the Pekingese or Chihuahua. Some dogs also have certain physical features that limit the type or amount of exercise they can do — brachycephalic (or flat-faced) breeds like the Bulldog are a perfect example.
Health. Health issues can also influence your dog’s daily exercise requirements. For example, heart problems and arthritis can affect the type and amount of activity your dog can handle each day, while you can’t expect an overweight dog to tackle a huge run without building up their fitness first. Be sure to check with your vet before starting a new exercise regime.
How much exercise does a puppy need?
There’s a lot to learn when you bring home a new puppy. One of the key lessons is working out how much daily exercise your furry family member needs to stay happy and healthy.
Puppies may seem like they’re constantly full of beans, but they don’t have anywhere near the same level of endurance as adult dogs. As a result, short and sharp sessions (around 10 minutes) that involve lots of playtime and even brief walks will work wonders.
Just make sure not to overdo it. Taking your puppy for a run or a long walk can place too much strain on their developing bones and muscles, so save those super strenuous workouts for when your pooch is a little older.
Exercise for adult dogs
When your pup reaches adulthood, their fully developed body is now ready to tackle a more rigorous exercise regime. But their breed will play a huge part in determining exactly what they’re capable of.
High-energy, athletic, and working breeds require a whole lot of activity. An Australian Shepherd, for example, will love to accompany you on a run or try out doggy sports like flyball and agility. Meanwhile, a Pug will be happy with a daily walk and a few play sessions with you.
Requirements really do vary greatly between breeds, so ask your vet for advice if you’re unsure about your dog’s exercise needs.
Exercise for senior dogs
As they enter their senior years, dogs can start to feel the effects of a life well lived. Not only might they have less energy than in times gone by, but the stiff joints and pain of arthritis can also start to limit mobility.
Regular exercise is still essential for any senior dog’s wellbeing, but you’ll need to manage your pooch a little more carefully. A daily walk is always a good idea, while swimming is a great form of low-impact exercise for dogs with arthritis.
Regular training sessions will also help your dog’s mind stay sharp whBenefits of exercise for dogsile keeping them active at the same time.
Benefits of exercise for dogs
What happens if my dog doesn’t get enough exercise? Does it really matter all that much if they put on a few extra pounds? Why is exercise so important?
A lack of exercise can have far more serious consequences for your dog than merely making them look a little chunky. From arthritis to heart problems, being overweight or obese can have potentially life-changing health consequences.
But insufficient activity can also affect your fur-baby’s mental wellbeing and behavior. A dog that doesn’t get enough daily exercise can become anxious, stressed, and bored. This can prompt them to act out and use destructive behavior to alleviate boredom, use up some energy, or just try and get your attention.
That’s why it’s worth remembering that you don’t just need to give your dog a physical workout; you also need to encourage them to exercise their mind.
Can dogs exercise too much?
Unfortunately, yes! We’ve already talked above about the importance of restricting exercise for puppies and dogs with health issues, but it’s also essential to avoid over-exercising a perfectly healthy adult dog.
From sore and stiff muscles to damaged paw pads, limping, a lack of energy, unnecessary weight loss, and even heatstroke, there are many different symptoms of too much exercise.
So if you notice your dog slowing down or struggling, don’t force them to go any further. Recognize the signs that they’re not at full health and work out what needs to be done to fix the problem.
And if you’re unsure of how much exercise your fur-baby needs, ask your vet for advice.