Exercise is essential for every single dog (just like it is for all of us humans). It even has similar effects on dogs as it does us – it has positive mental as well as physical health benefits. According to a survey by the PDSA, in 2019 around a million dogs were denied a walk every day. Quite frankly, this is not ok. No matter their breed, age and health they all need to be exercised in some way. After all, it’s in their very nature to run about all day (just look at wild dogs in packs). Whilst all dogs must be walked, each dog will have different needs. Some factors that may vary the amount of exercise your pup needs include breed, age and health.
The average adult dog will need between 30 minutes and 2 hours of exercise every day, depending on their breed. Smaller dogs such as Chihuahuas, Yorkshire terriers and Pomeranians are amongst those who only need 30 minutes. Cocker Spaniels, Pugs, Whippets and Border Terriers are in the category of dogs who need a minimum of 1 hour of exercise a day. Golden Retrievers, Springer Spaniels, Labradors and German Shepherds are just a few of the boisterous big boys that need 2 hours + of walkies a day. Whilst it is fine to get their allotted amount of exercise over and done with all at once, it is not necessary. Instead, you could take them on one, two or even 3 shorter walks depending on what fits in with your lifestyle best.
When your dog is a puppy they will want to play forever, however, they will not be able to go on arduous 2-hour walks like an adult dog could. It’s like expecting a 5-year-old boy to keep up with an 18-year-old man – it simply isn’t realistic. Whilst exercise is important for puppies, too much exercise can damage their bones and joints. Puppies tend to need short bursts of regular exercise, rather than one long walk in the morning. Although each puppy is different, as an easy to follow rule we suggest that you take them out for a walk two times a day, for around 5 minutes for each month of their age. So, if they are 4 months old, take them for a 20-minute walk twice a day, and if they are 5 months old, exercise them for 25 minutes twice a day and so on. If they are struggling with this you can of course shorten it and if they are still eager to continue you can extend it. You can continue to build this up into adulthood. Once they are older, they may not have the energy to go as far and may be struggling with various health problems. It’s important that you don’t stop walking them just because they have slowed down in pace and can’t go as far. Instead keep the exercise regular and stick to familiar routines in order to avoid confusion and stress. Ultimately, you as their owner are the best judge of how far they can go – each day may be different!
A healthy dog will want to exercise. Exercise doesn’t just mean going for a walk – you could play various ball games with them too. This is particularly good for those who live in very built up areas without much freedom to roam, or those short on time. Playing games such as fetch or tug allow them to quickly get rid of excess energy and makes them less restless. If they are poorly, exercise may not be on the cards at all. Dogs work in a similar way to humans – sometimes they just need to rest, and other times they need to keep moving in order to return to full health. Speak to their vet and follow their recommendations (they are the professionals after all).
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