4 min read
When is the Best Time to Walk Your Dog?
By Emily Gantt
Published: 02/08/2021, edited: 01/13/2023
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Regular dog walks do the mind and body good. Vets and dog trainers prescribe walks for all sorts of reasons, from hyperactivity to weight loss. Besides being a healthy hobby, walking your dog is a fantastic way to bond with them and get a workout too.
But when is the best time to walk your dog? And how often should you be doing it? The answer to these questions
aren't concrete, and they highly depend on your dog's age, breed, and personality. Young dogs have
different exercise requirements than seniors — the same goes for social
dogs and shy dogs, but we’ll dive into this a little later.
How often should you walk a dog?
Experts recommend that dogs get 20 minutes to 2 hours of exercise each day. While your senior probably won’t be up to 2 hours of rigorous walking, your young adult dog may need even more than that. Just be sure to watch for signs of exhaustion, and stop the walk if your dog is clearly tired. Overexerting your dog can lead to health conditions like arthritis.
Exercise time may be divvied out among several walks or one long one. Most pet parents prefer to spread out their walking time between 2 or 3 walks each day. Multiple walks per day have their advantages, like fewer house-breaking accidents, better sleep, and less pent-up energy.
How a dog’s breed affects walking requirements
High-energy working breeds like German Shepherds, Huskies, and Labs need much more exercise than, say, a toy breed. Without 1 to 2 hours of exercise each day, these breeds may gain weight and develop undesirable habits out of boredom.
Small dogs like Miniature Poodles and Chihuahuas can get away with 20 to 30 minutes of exercise each day, but their stamina for longer walks might surprise you. Remember that small dogs have shorter legs, so what seems like a short walk to you might be too much for your toy breed.
Long walks can be incredibly difficult for brachycephalic breeds like French Bulldogs since their face shape inhibits airflow during strenuous exercise. You may want to keep walks under 10 to 15 minutes, especially if they’re older. If this is still too much for your pooch, consider getting a pet stroller. Strollers give dogs the mental stimulation they need without being taxing on their body.
How a dog's personality affects walking requirements
A dog’s personality is very important to consider when setting up a
walking schedule. A shy dog may prefer to walk before sunrise or at
night to avoid other dog walkers and unfamiliar dogs. They may also want
to walk in a less busy area like on a hiking trail or on a side road.
Social dogs often welcome new faces and favor walks in the afternoon or evening during peak walking periods. Peak walking periods are also great for very young dogs who need socialization — walking during these times can teach pups how to interact properly with other people and animals.
What are the best walking times for dogs?
The time of day you should plan your dog's walk will depend on several factors, including your pet's age, breed, health conditions, and the area where you live. There are benefits to walking your pet at different times of the day. Below are some of the pros and cons of each.
If your fur-baby is a puppy or older dog, you might want to schedule your walks first thing in the morning. Puppies have smaller bladders and need to stay on a strict potty schedule to maintain their potty training progress. Similarly, senior dogs have weaker bladder muscles and may be more prone to accidents if they don't go out as soon as they get up.
Leashing up first thing the AM can also help your pet's behavior throughout the day and make them more responsive to training (and help them burn off some of that seemingly endless energy).
If you live in a cold-weather climate, morning walks may not be best for your older dogs. Cold weather can aggravate arthritis and joint stiffness and make your dog not want to walk. If this is the case, you may want to wait until the sun warms up before leashing up your old fellow.
The afternoon is a great time to walk a senior dog during the winter since it’s often the warmest part of the day. On the other hand, this time of day can be risky during the summer.
Avoid hot afternoon walks if you have a long-haired dog or breed that’s prone to heatstroke like Bulldogs. If you must take an afternoon walk in the summer, make sure your pup is wearing booties to prevent paw burns from hot asphalt and cement.
The evening is a prime walking time for social woofers since this is when most people walk their dogs after work. Social pups love seeing all the goings-on around town and maybe even getting a pet from a passerby.
If you live near a busy road, evenings might not be the best time for walks since this usually is when traffic is the worst. Loud noises associated with heavy traffic may scare skittish pups.
Pups prone to nightly accidents may benefit from an extra walk right before bed. Nightly walks can also help your pup sleep better and prevent them from rambling throughout the night.
By nighttime, summer temps have usually cooled down, making it the optimal time for long-haired or brachycephalic breeds to have their last walk of the day. Night walks are generally much quieter and more relaxing than mid-day walks since there are fewer cars and walkers.
Remember to use caution when walking at night, wear reflective gear, and bring a flashlight so motorists can see you. (Pro tip: LED dog collars are a great way to keep your canine visible on walks after dark.)
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Book a local dog walker with Wag! today to help your fur-baby get their steps in!