How Much Exercise Does A Dog Need?

10 June 2022

You probably know that physical activity is important for your dog’s health. But how much exercise do dogs need exactly? Discover what type and amount of exercise is best for dogs in this post!

man and dog on leash running outside

Most dogs were bred for activities like herding, retrieving, or patrolling, so exercise is part of their DNA. No dog was ever bred to lie around all day, waiting for you to come home from work. Your pup depends on you to get the right amount of exercise so they can be their best self! A good place to start is to find out how much you should walk your dog every day. Besides that, you can learn more about your dog’s exercise needs by reading through this guide or monitoring their activity levels with a GPS dog tracker and activity monitor.

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So let’s get into it: how much exercise does a dog need everyday to stay fit and healthy?

How do you know whether your dog may need more exercise?

Does your pooch frequently initiate play sessions, get into the trash, pull on the leash, chew on furniture, bark excessively, or roam the house at night? Then they probably need more exercise!

Exercise can help reduce destructive behaviors by focusing your pup’s energy on a productive activity. If you see a reduction in destructive behaviors after increasing your pup’s daily exercise, you have found an easy solution! 

Is your dog overweight or seem to have less stamina than they once had? An exercise routine can address these conditions and help your dog become the trim and fit specimen they were meant to be.  

An exercise routine has many benefits for your dog, including:

  • improved health
  • better sleep
  • increased socialization
  • training opportunities
  • mental stimulation and
  • more time with you, their favorite human

Your dog is not able to take themselves for a walk or throw their own ball to fetch – so it’s up to you to make it happen. They’ll reward you with better behavior, sleep, and lots of doggy affection

When deciding how much exercise your dog needs each day, consider your dog’s breed, age, health, and overall fitness.

With Tractive GPS you can see exactly how much activity and rest is normal for your dog. Then, set goals and encourage your dog to get more exercise. Or, find out if your dog’s activity levels change – so you can spot health issues early.

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Consult your veterinarian if you have concerns about your dog’s ability to participate in certain activities. Decide what works best with your lifestyle. By finding an exercise routine that you both enjoy, you and your pooch will build a bond and improve your health.

How much exercise does a dog need every day – based on age?

A dog’s daily exercise routine will change with age. Some adult dogs can hike for hours, while puppies need several short play sessions each day. Senior dogs require a more relaxed pace.

Experiment with your dog and see what is right. They should be happily tired at the end of the day. If your dog still has lots of extra energy in the evening, add more exercise to the schedule. If they are exhausted by days’ end, cut back by shortening your walks or play sessions. 

How much daily exercise is enough for a puppy?

Puppies are little balls of energy, dashing through the house then collapsing into a deep sleep. Puppies need short, frequent walks or play sessions with rest periods in between. A long walk around the neighborhood may be too much for them.

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A rule of thumb for your puppy is five minutes of exercise, twice a day, for each month of age. So a three-month-old puppy will need about 15 minutes of exercise, twice a day. 

Puppies become adults around six to 18 months of age, depending on the breed. Large dog breeds take longer to mature.      

dog laying in the grass

How much daily exercise is enough for an adult dog?

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Experts say that 30 minutes to two hours of daily exercise is right for most dogs.

To maintain this exercise routine, you might take a 20-minute walk with your pup each morning and evening, and add a vigorous play session after lunch. Monitor your pup and you’ll be able to find the right amount of daily exercise to keep them safe and healthy.

How much daily exercise is enough for a senior dog?

Senior dogs may have slowed down, but they still need daily exercise to maintain their health. If you have a senior dog with painful arthritis, make walks more comfortable by choosing smooth, flat surfaces like sidewalks or paved trails. Avoid steep slopes, which can stress their joints.  

Swimming is a wonderful exercise option for dogs with hip dysplasia or orthopedic issues, because it is joint-friendly and improves cardiovascular health. 

As with any pet exercise program, observe your dog carefully and judge how much exercise they can handle. If you have a senior dog with health issues, it may be wise to talk to your veterinarian before starting a new exercise routine. 

How much exercise does a dog need every day based on breed?

All dog breeds were developed for specific characteristics. Some breeds were developed for an active lifestyle, while others are OK with a minimal exercise routine. 

When you selected your pup, you hopefully chose a dog breed whose daily exercise needs match your lifestyle. If you live in a tiny apartment, a high-energy dog breed may not get enough healthy exercise in your household. But if you are an avid runner or have a large working property, a high-energy dog may be a perfect fit.  

Woman running with a dog in grass field outdoors

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High-energy dog breeds include border collies, German shepherds, golden retrievers, and Labradors. If these high-energy dogs aren’t given enough opportunities for daily exercise, they may become frustrated and difficult to maintain. Most of these dog breeds can handle frequent runs, long hikes, and lively play sessions.

Bassett hounds, Pekingese, Yorkshire terriers, and chihuahuas are examples of low-energy dog breeds. They may enjoy walks around the neighborhood but probably can’t handle an all-day hiking trip. 

Giant dog breeds such as great danes, mastiffs and Newfoundlands are somewhat deceiving. Despite their large size, these giant dogs are often less energetic and have lower activity needs. 

Some brachycephalic dog breeds such as bulldogs, pugs, Boston terriers, and boxers have flat faces and short airways that affect their breathing, so vigorous exercise may be too taxing for them. 

Keep in mind that an individual dog’s behaviors and abilities may not be typical for their dog breed. Each dog is unique and may have their own preferences as to the type and amount of daily exercise they require. Let your knowledge of your furry friend’s personality and abilities be your guide.  

What are the best ways to exercise your dog?

No matter if you live in the city, the suburbs, or in a rural area, you have many options to create a healthy exercise routine for your pup. 

Outdoor activities

The great outdoors provides endless opportunities for a healthy and safe exercise routine. Consider warming up with a walk around the block before engaging in rigorous play.

Hiking & Camping: Walking on trails can be physically demanding, plus trails are a scented paradise for your pup’s nose. 

two people hiking with dog on a mountain looking out

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Swimming: Water play is a fun way to cool off on a hot day, and the joint-friendly environment is a bonus for senior dogs. A dog life jacket helps your pooch feel safe and confident in deep water. 

Fetching: Running at full speed to retrieve a toy will get your dog’s heart pumping. Be sure to use pet-safe toys rather than sticks, which can splinter in your dog’s mouth.

Obedience and Agility Training: These activities provide mental as well as physical stimulation.  Retrieving, weaving, climbing, jumping, and following commands require your dog to focus. 

What is Dog Agility Training?

Dog Sports: Scent work, flyball, herding, and conformation are just a few of the opportunities available for dog sports. You and your pup can participate in organized competitions and clubs, or you can create your own at-home version.

Dog Park: Your local dog park is an inexpensive way to give your dog access to a large play space and socialize with other dogs.  

Play date with doggy friends: Meet up with other pet parents in a local park for a walk or play session. Be sure your dog is comfortable socializing with other pups before joining up. 

two dogs playing at the dog park outside

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Indoor activities

Your options for indoor dog exercise are limited only by your imagination. The play space may be smaller, but it’s still possible to enjoy some healthy activity with your pup indoors. 

Stairs: Run up and down the stairs with your pup a few times, or toss a ball to the bottom step and ask your dog to retrieve it. Stairs are more challenging for dogs with short legs like dachshunds, corgis, and Bassett hounds, or brachycephalic dog breeds. 

Hide and Seek: This simple game provides physical as well as mental stimulation. This activity works best if your dog is skilled at basic commands like Come and Stay.

Obedience Training: A few minutes per day of reviewing basic commands like Come, Sit, and Stay require your dog to focus and control their impulses, which is hard work! A well-trained dog is going to be better behaved when you take them outdoors to exercise. 

DIY Indoor Agility Course: Use broom handles, boxes, and hula hoops to create an agility course to fit your indoor space. Or look for a local club that meets indoors. 

Different activities in different seasons

The weather is a huge factor in determining how to meet your dog’s daily exercise needs. Avoiding heat stroke is important in the warmest months. In general, if it’s too hot or cold outside for you to exercise, it will be too hot or cold for your dog. 

Heat Stroke in dogs: Symptoms, treatment & prevention

Pay attention to your dog’s signals

Don’t pressure your dog into activities that are too strenuous. Senior dogs and puppies may need a little extra time to complete their walk around the block. Start slow if your dog is not used to being active, and build up gradually over several months. 

Always carry fresh water for your dog when you are engaging in vigorous activity. And be aware that for most dogs, increased exercise should not require an increase in daily calories. 

Other factors to consider before dog exercise

Some pups have health conditions that can affect their ability to exercise. These include arthritis, hip dysplasia, heart conditions, and respiratory issues. Always consult your veterinarian for advice on the best way to introduce new activities to a dog with chronic health conditions. 

Safety should be at the top of your list when exercising your dog. If you walk your dog after dark, outfit them with a high-visibility or reflective collar. This makes cars and pedestrians aware of your dog’s presence, and will help you locate them if they dash off. 

No matter where you go, a GPS dog tracker will let you follow your dog’s every step in real-time. So in case they run away from you while exercising, you can find them again in minutes.

Short on time? You can still give your dog the exercise they need by hiring a dog walker or sending your pup to doggie day care. These professionals will help your dog remain healthy and active with daily exercise. 

An exercise routine is fundamental to your dog’s health, and it provides an opportunity for you and your pup to make memories together while staying active. That will give you many more years to enjoy your furry friend!

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