If you’re a new dog parent, the question of exercise may seem a bit elusive. Last time you checked, your dog was still snoring (quite happily) on the couch. Or maybe your middle-aged dog is still plagued by zoomies. Regardless of the situation, we all want our dogs to lead as healthy and happy lives as possible.
Generally, there are good guidelines to follow. Just like people, many suggest dogs should get at least 30 minutes to 1 hour of exercise a day, and sometimes more.
But honestly? It can depend. We’ll dive into tips that can help tailor an exercise plan for your pup.
What if you don’t have a dog yet?
Actually, if you haven’t brought a dog home yet, it’s a great time to consider your lifestyle. Are you very active? Is your pace a little more laidback? What’s your job situation like? Your lifestyle, time, and energy levels are good factors to consider.
If you’ve never lived with a dog before, quizzes such as Pedigree’s Dog Breed Match can be a great way to decide what kind of dog is right for you. The right breed will help you stick with a consistent exercise routine, and can ensure happiness for both of you.
Consider these first
Breed does influence the amount of exercise needed. French bulldogs have short noses, and cannot keep up with vigorous bouts of exercise. Greyhounds, on the other hand, can benefit from long-distance running because of their legs.
Age also matters. Puppies generally have more energy and may need more consistent exercise throughout the day. And older dogs shouldn’t be neglected—they need exercise to keep their joints healthy, even if your walks are at a leisurely pace.
Finally, if your dog is on any kind of medication, or has a health condition, double-check with your vet to see if these factors should affect their exercise at all.
Is some exercise better than others?
Should my dog just walk? Should they run more? What about swimming? Each kind of exercise has its benefits, and it can also depend on factors mentioned above.
All dogs benefit from walking. Even if you have space outside for your pup to roam, walking is needed for mental stimulation. Walking also promotes healthy joints, prevents obesity and even separation anxiety. A walk gives them a chance to meet other dogs, people, and become comfortable with new sights and smells. Best of all, it’s just time that you get to spend together.
Running shouldn’t necessarily be neglected, even for dogs that may not run as much or as often. Dogs are considered aerobic animals, and giving dogs space to run as they please is great for overall physical and mental health. Dog parks, daycare, or playing games together in the backyard are great, flexible options for running.
Swimming provides its own unique benefits. For older dogs that struggle with arthritis, swimming helps ease joints, and overweight dogs can burn calories without putting additional stress on their muscles. You can check your local area to see if there may be places around that offer swimming pools for dogs.
Okay…but how much is too much?
Just like people, your dog’s exercise should be balanced. Thankfully, dogs can give us clues if they’re getting too much, or too little.
Below are signs a dog may be getting pushed to their limit:
- Panting too much
- Refusing to move
- They seem stiff or they walk around tenderly
Below are signs a dog may be wishing for more:
- Considerable time staring out the window
- Lots of barking
- Destructive behavior – tearing up items
Tips for a healthy routine
As best you can, setting up an exercise routine helps your dog stay calm and happy (among other benefits). If you work from home, walks throughout the day gives them consistent stimulation, and may decide to snooze between sessions—giving you the chance to get more work done (a win-win!).
If you work outside the home, getting your dog out in the mornings and evenings is still a great thing to do. If you’re able to set something up during the day, below are some ideas:
- Daycare – even taking your dog once or twice a week can provide enough stimulation and excitement for them the rest of the week. Consistent exercise is still important though.
- A dog walker / sitter
- If you’ve got friends or family that work from home, they may be willing to help take care of your pup
- Set up an open space for indoor play
We hope this helps provide good tips for exercising your dog. Life is busy for all of us, but establishing steady exercise reaps a lot of rewards in the long run.