How much exercise does your dog need
Exercising your dog is an important part of both their physical and mental wellbeing. Exercising increases your dog’s stamina, strengthens their joints and muscles, stimulates their brain and keeps their metabolism healthy. Consistent exercise will prevent destructive, boredom-related behaviours and keep your dog in tip-top shape throughout their life.
This leads us to the question: how much exercise does your dog actually need? Is there a magic number of exercise minutes you should be aiming for each day? Although it’s pretty easy to tell if your dog’s done too much exercise (cue: tongue on the floor) or not enough exercise (cue: chewed up shoes, one from each pair of course), it’s harder to know when they’ve had just the right amount.
The amount of exercise your dog should be getting each day depends on a number of factors, primarily: their age, breed and living arrangements. In addition to how much exercise they get, you should also think about the type of exercise they do. Their routine should have plenty of variety, both in terms of exercise intensities, as well as physically vs. mentally focused activities.
Here’s our guide for how much exercise your dog should be getting each day.
- Amount of exercise: Puppies should start with short bursts of exercise, which increase in length as they get older. A pup less than 3 months old exercise no more than 5 minutes at a time. As they approach six months, increase the number of 5-minute increments of exercise they are doing. By about 6 months, your dog should be comfortable doing about 30 minutes a day, and by 12 months, 1 hour a day.
- Type of exercise: Concentrate primarily on walking, it’s a good opportunity to practice obedience skills such as heel and sit. Overexercising with intense exercise can cause injuries and developmental problems. You should never take your young pup for a run.
- Amount of exercise: Even for our golden oldies, moving their bodies each and every day will bring them great benefits. Unless your older dog has a specific condition that prevents them from exercising, you should aim to exercise them for 30 minutes a day. If your dog is still fit and energetic, you can safely do up to 60 minutes.
- Type of exercise: The key to exercising older dogs is to do activities that don’t put too much stress on their joints. Walking is the typical choice. Swimming is also a great activity, as their buoyancy in the water takes the pressure off their joint, while the kicking action strengthens their legs and hips. If they are struggling to keep up with their walking or swimming (or even if not), get creative. A game of hind and seek around the house will challenge their minds, without putting too much stress on their body.
Adults, less active breeds (e.g. Bulldogs, Poodles, Maltese)
- Amount of exercise: For less active breeds, usually up to 60 minutes a day of exercise is sufficient. If you live in an apartment or unit, this should increase to 90 minutes per day.
- Type of exercise: For the less active dog breeds, the key is to wear them out both mentally and physically. Games like tug of war, playing fetch, and even socialising at the park will do great things for their mental wellbeing.
Adults, active breeds (e.g. Working Dogs)
- Amount of exercise: If you have an energic breed, you should be aiming to exercise them 1-2 hours a day. For herding dogs breeds, you should be aiming closer to the 2-hour mark. These are the type of dogs that if not exercised properly, will display disruptive, boredom driven behaviour issues. If you’re struggling to find the time to fit in that much exercise, dog walking or dog daycare may be the best solution, at least a few times a week.
- Type of exercise: The key here is variety, to keep their bodies and minds occupied and constantly challenged. Aim to mix it up with activities like running, swimming, hiking and playing fetch. Obedience and agility classes are a great activity for these breeds.