How Often Should You Walk Your Dog?
Regular walks aren't just great for us - it's also one of the best ways to keep your dog healthy & happy. But you might've wondered: how often should you walk your dog? And how to stay accountable to your dog walking routine? Let's find out.
Whether you’re a new dog parent or a veteran, it’s completely normal and healthy to be wondering – how often should you walk your dog? Because with all the perks and pros it brings, a regular walk outdoors with your buddy is both a wise and wonderful investment for the long term.
But the truth is, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. The right amount of dog walking for your furry friend depends on a lot of factors. However, most people should be walking their dog daily.
So here’s a deep dive into how frequently – and how long – you should walk your dog each day. (Based on factors like breed and age.) And even better, how to commit to your daily dog walks with a little help from your trusty Tractive device.
Table of contents
- Why it makes sense to walk your dog on the regular
- How often should I walk my dog?
- How often do you walk your dog? Factors to consider
- How long should I walk my dog?
- 5 reasons why dogs need walks daily
- What happens if you don’t walk your dog?
- Walking your dog: Leashed or unleashed ?
- The #1 way to keep your dog safe on dog walks
- Other ways to keep your dog active & healthy
Why it makes sense to walk your dog on the regular
No matter their age, breed, or size – every dog needs regular physical activity1.
- Walking your dog daily helps keep them healthy – both physically and mentally.
- Regular dog walks can even help reduce any behavioral problems you experience with your buddy.
- Most importantly, it adds to the happiness and quality of life of your dog.
Read more: How Much Exercise Does A Dog Need?
But now the million dollar question: how often should you walk your dog?
How often should I walk my dog?
On average, vets recommend walking the dog 3 – 4 times per day for at least 15 minutes.2 However there are a couple of factors that come to play when deciding how often you walk your dog.
How often do you walk your dog? Factors to consider
Every dog is unique, and therefore has different physical activity needs. How often you should walk your dog depends on things like their:
- Your environment
- Health condition
Below you can read more about how each factor affects the exercise requirements of our furry friends.
Every dog belongs to a particular breed, each of which has specific activity needs and limitations. For example, for some small dogs, one walk a day might be enough. This generally isn’t the case however for high-energy dog breeds.
Read on to learn about some of the common breed groups and their activity needs below.
High-energy dog breeds
- Border Collie
- Australian Shepherd
- Irish Setter
- Rhodesian Ridgeback
- Labrador Retriever
- Siberian Husky
Aim for 30 minutes to 2 hours of exercise each day – or 2 to 3 daily walks.
💡Pictured here is Opie, a high-energy Shepherd mix whose Tractive device clocks in a whopping 300-500 minutes of activity per day!
“We thought we were crazy for a while,” says his mom, Autumn. “Then, we discovered Tractive and were relieved to find out we weren’t crazy – Opie really was the most active dog around.”
Low energy dog breeds
On the other hand, some dogs are low energy breeds and need less exercise daily. These include:
- Bassett Hounds
- Yorkshire Terriers
- Great Danes
Sheep & cattle dogs
These dog groups have a higher need for activity:
- Sheepdogs, such as Sheltie Sheepland or Border Collie
- Cattle dogs, such as Bouvier des Flandres
Dogs belonging to this group need a minimum of 2.5 hours of intense activity per day. Translated into walks, this can easily mean at least 4 walks a day, 20-25 minutes each.
Since dogs belonging to this category are also very intelligent, don’t forget to challenge them mentally as well. Reserve at least 30 minutes every day for intelligence game sessions with them.
Read more: How to Keep Your Dog Mentally Active
⚠️ Boredom is one of the key reasons why dogs run away. Make sure you’re keeping yours occupied with playtime – and tiring them out with enough exercise. (Because a tired dog is less likely to run away.)
And if you’re tracking your dog’s daily activity, it’s a fun and easy way to ensure they’ve gotten their exercise. Helping you both keep your buddy fit – and prevent any health issues down the line.
Small, lively, strong tempered and trainable – this is how one would describe Terrier dogs. This dog group may be small, but these four-legged friends also need a quite large amount of exercise.
Terriers need at least 1.5 hours of activity every day. Consider a friendly walking schedule of 3 walks per day, 20-25 min each.
Consider adding some mental activity games for this group as well. 20 minutes a day should be challenging enough to keep them fit.
Breeds belonging to this group definitely need an activity challenge. Here are a couple of examples:
For dogs bred for hunting, 1.5 hours of daily walks and exercising is the minimum requirement. Since these dog breeds are also pretty fond of running, feel free to start a running practice with them, as long as you do it step-by-step and considering the age of your dog as well.
3 walks a day of at least 30 minutes, plus cognitive activities are highly recommended for dogs belonging to this group.
⚠️ Watch out: most hunting dogs have a strong prey drive – another key reason they might run away while out on a hike or a run. Make sure you’ve gotten your dog microchipped at the very least, so a helpful stranger can get them to a vet who can then identify you as the owner.
And if you want to track your dog in real-time and follow their every step, a dog GPS tracker can be a lifesaver. Making all the difference between locating your dog safe and sound – and preventing them from getting lost, injured, or worse.
Chihuahua and similar breeds are typically what we nowadays call companion dogs. As these dogs are not high-energy breeds, avoid challenging them with hours of intense activity. Instead, use smaller time periods for fun games and short daily walks to keep them physically fit.
Small companion dogs may only need about 30 minutes of exercise per day.
Another factor to consider when it comes to how often you should walk your dog is age. Puppies, for example, might seem to have an endless amount of energy. But even they aren’t able to walk as long as older dogs. They may also need more frequent potty breaks. So stick with short but frequent walks for puppies.
Read more: How To Tire Out A Puppy – And Keep Them Safe
Younger dogs (under 5 years old) typically have a lot of energy, so they often need more exercise than adult and senior dogs.
Middle-aged and senior dogs may have health issues that slow them down. They might be eager to walk a lot, but not have the stamina to keep up. Keep all this in mind when considering how often to walk your dog.
Other factors in your living situation and lifestyle affect how often you should walk your dog. Like, for example:
- How active you are. Dogs tend to mimic the activity and routine of their caregivers. (Aka, us.) So if you’re generally sporty and your dog tags along for your runs, swims, and hikes, they won’t need as many walks.
On the other hand, if you’re more inactive, chances are your dog will be too. So it’s very important to walk daily.
- Living space. If you and your dog live in a small apartment with not much space to move around, you’ll need to walk them more often. On the other hand, if you’ve got a big backyard with space to roam, your dog needs fewer walks. (Just watch out for an active dog who might jump the fence.)
💡No fence? No problem. Keep your dog safe in your backyard by setting up a virtual fence instead. Which, with your Tractive device, means you can set up a “safe zone” and “no go zones” – and then immediately get an escape alert on your phone if your dog’s snuck past it.
Ever felt lazy to go out on a walk seeing the miserable weather outdoors? You wouldn’t be the only one. But turns out, the weather – and your environment as a whole – does affect how often you should venture outdoors with your dog.
When it gets warmer outdoors, it’s a good idea to avoid walking around mid-day – or when the sun’s at it’s peak. Steer clear of areas without shade and try and walk around evening time, when it’s cooler. (Or there’s a bit of a breeze or cloud cover.)
In general, your dog’s normal body temperature is between 38°C and 39°C. Anything more and they may have trouble cooling themselves down normally – which can be fatal in the long run.
- Dogs And Heat: How To Keep Dogs Cool In Summer
- Heat Stroke In Dogs: Symptoms, Treatment & Prevention
- Is Dog Shaving A Good Idea? What To Consider Before You Get Clipping
Most dogs can safely withstand temperatures above 45°F (7°C) – anything below, and you’ll see them get uncomfortable. Make sure to dress warmly and protect your dog’s paws from ice, salt, and snow. (Yes, even if you’ve got a snow-loving dog breed.) Also, given how it gets darker earlier in autumn and winter, invest in reflective gear to help your dog stay visible.
- Dogs & Cold Weather: How Cold Is Too Cold For Dogs?
- 8 Best Tips On How To Protect Dog Paws In Snow
- 10 Steps To Safely Walk Your Dog In The Dark
💡Lost your dog on a dark winter evening? Just activate your Tractive’s Light & Sound function to locate them with an LED light – or a high-pitched melody. Perfect for finding a dark-furred pet in the evening!
Last but not least, you should consider your dog’s health when deciding how often to walk your dog.
- Dogs in great health may be able to enjoy long walks – up to two hours or more.
- On the other hand, dogs with health problems like obesity or diabetes will likely have challenges walking.
Some brachycephalic (or flat-nosed) dog breeds, like pugs, Bulldogs, and Boxers might be reluctant exercisers. The shape of their heads makes it difficult for them to breathe – so they’re vulnerable to health problems like sleep apnea. Make sure to get the green light from your vet before beginning your daily dog walks.
How long should I walk my dog?
As a general rule, you should walk a medium-sized dog at least 30 minutes a day. However, keep in mind that this might not apply to all dogs. How often you should walk your dog depends on the factors above – including breed, age and health.
Every dog is an individual. Follow these tips to determine how long your daily dog walks should be:
- Ask your vet for recommendations on how often and how long you should walk your dog. If your dog is in tip-top shape and one of the high energy breeds above, they can probably enjoy walking for longer.
- Start with short walks and gradually increase the length of the walks with time. If your dog has a health issue or condition that makes physical exercise difficult or painful, keep walks shorter.
- Keep an eye on your dog while walking – they may want to walk more, less, or call it quits for the day.
And most importantly: track your dog’s activity. This will help you both ensure your dog is exercising enough – and help you catch on to a health issue early on. (If you notice a change in their regular energy levels.)
Plus, with your trusty Tractive device, you can see how active your dog is – and also compare their activity level with other pets! Nothing like a sense of healthy competition and daily motivation to keep you accountable.
“With our Activity Benchmarking feature, we want pet parents to get a clear picture of their pets’ peers – and to be able to see how they’re doing in comparison. It can help you stay motivated and more accountable to your dog’s health and wellbeing over time.”– Sebastian Raab, Product Manager at Tractive & occasional pet-sitter
5 reasons why dogs need walks daily
Need more motivation to get outside with your dog? Here are five reasons why dogs need walks daily.
- Dog walks are good for your dog’s health.
- Dog walks provide mental stimulation and enrichment.
- Dog walks are a great opportunity to socialize your dog.
- Dog walks can reduce unwanted behaviors.
- Dog walks build your dog’s confidence.
But the benefits aren’t just for your dog! Spending time outside while you walk your dog, in fact, can boost your fitness and overall sense of well-being. Daily walks can lower blood pressure, strengthen your bones and slash your diabetes risk.
💡 Tractive’s fun Walk feature helps you stay accountable to walking your dog on the regular. With just a click, you can record your walks with your buddy and keep a log of your adventures together. (Kind of like maintaining a Duolingo streak for your dog’s daily exercise.)
“Our Walk feature is our answer to a common question our pet parents came to us with: how can I take a more active role in their health and wellbeing? It’s a great way to help you stay motivated and to get your dog the right amount of exercise.”– Simona Fabryova, Product Manager at Tractive & seeing-eye dog trainer
What happens if you don’t walk your dog?
Not walking your dog can have serious consequences for your furry friend. If you don’t walk your dog regularly, they’ll miss out on the exercise and sensory stimulation of being outdoors. Which, over time, might lead to:
- Weight-related health issues, like high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer2
- Behavioral issues, such as barking, hyperactivity, chewing or running away
- Dog Keeps Running Away? 5 Tips To Prevent An Escape
- Runaway Dog: Which Dog Breeds Are Most Likely To Run Away?
- Hyperactive Dog: How To Calm A Hyper Dog
When dogs don’t get a chance to walk regularly, their energy builds up but has no place to be released. Which might cause them to bolt the fence, run off to investigate the nearest sight, sound, or smell, or even get irritable or anxious.
Since walking your dog comes with tons of benefits for you and your dog – don’t skip on it. Even when it can be difficult sometimes, it’s essential to make sure your dog gets enough fresh air, potty breaks, physical activity and mental stimulation.
💡 Can’t walk your dog regularly? Consider finding a friend or dog walker who can do it for you.
Tips for walking your dog safely outdoors
Before you head outdoors, here are a couple of safety tips for a stress-free walk together with your buddy.
- Dog ID tag. Make sure your dog’s collar includes an ID tag with your contact details. (In case they run away.)
- Microchip. A microchip works like a permanent ID tag for your dog. (So more secure than a dangling ID tag that might fall off.) Now if they run away and are picked up by a vet or animal shelter, your dog’s microchip helps them identify you as the rightful owner.
- Weather. Stay informed on how to handle hot weather when you’re out on a walk with your dog – and also how cold is too cold for dogs.
- Gear. Always bring water if you’re going for a longer walk. Also consider dog booties, a jacket, or reflective gear if necessary – especially if you’re walking your dog in the dark.
💡Tractive’s Light & Sound functions help you locate your dog with an LED light or a high-pitched melody. (Perfect for dark winter evenings – or for locating a dark-furred dog outdoors!)
Walking your dog: Leashed or unleashed?
When walking your dog – should they be leashed or unleashed? Many times the answer is clear – local leash laws may require you to have your dog on a leash. However in some places and situations, walking your dog off leash may be possible.
💡 Make sure to check your local laws – or the laws of any other city, state, or country you’re visiting. Besides leashes, you might also be required to get your dog microchipped.
Keep in mind: Never walk your dog off leash if there’s a risk of them running away.
- If your dog does run away, don’t punish them. It’s important that your dog does not associate their return with any feeling of guilt or anger.
- Also, make sure to teach your dog the basic safety commands. Not only are they easy to teach, but they can also prevent dangerous situations for you and your furry friend.
Read more: The story of Sally, an energetic Samoyed who wanders off-leash in the Scottish countryside with her mum Clare – and her trusty Tractive GPS.
The #1 way to keep your dog safe on dog walks
If your active dog has a tendency to run off – especially on walks – it can only take minutes for it to escalate to an emergency. Because besides getting lost, your dog might be at risk of:
- Injury (whether from other pets, predators, people, or a passing vehicle)
- Getting sick from eating something they shouldn’t have
- Getting sick from coming in contact with toxic substances
- Getting picked up by a local shelter – and then put down if they aren’t able to contact you, the owner
But with a GPS dog tracker, you can always keep track of your furry friend. Like, for example, the Tractive GPS dog tracker which lets you track and find your dog anytime. Plus, you can see how active dogs like yours are, and get a healthy picture of how much exercise to aim for.
Besides, Tractive also helps you learn your dog’s sleep routines, see if they’re getting enough (quality) sleep and see if something’s up.
For example, if they’re sleeping a lot more than usual or less active than before, it could be a sign it’s time to talk to your vet.
Other ways to keep your dog active & healthy
Whether it’s from boredom or bad weather, walking your dog might not always be an option. So mix up your dog’s daily exercise with activities like:
- Agility training
- Running with dogs
- Biking (check the conditions for biking with your dog here)
- Rally obedience
- Dog tricks
- Intelligence games
Besides, don’t forget – your dog’s breed might not always influence their temperament. Even though your dog might belong to a group of high-energy dogs, they still have their own temperament and could be a true couch potato.
- For example, dogs like Huskies, Setters, and Pointers are the best runners; while others could struggle at even a slow (walking) pace.
- So try to understand the needs of your pup and consult a vet for a detailed and tailored walking schedule for your furry friend.
Still unsure how often to walk your dog?
In case you’re still uncertain of how often to walk your dog, it’s a good idea to visit your vet. They will be happy to provide you with helpful tips and walking advice for your dog’s specific circumstances.
Wrapping up: How often should you walk your dog?
Walking your dog is a big part of any dog parent’s life. We owe it to our four-legged friends to help them get enough physical activity, fresh air, sunlight, enrichment, and socialization. Chances are, your dog loves taking walks with you!
- How often and how long your dog needs to walk depends on several factors – such as age, health, and breed.
- If you’re unsure, ask your vet for specific guidance on how often to walk your dog.
And most importantly…
Track your dog’s daily activity. This can help you both ensure they’re getting enough exercise – and prevent a health emergency down the line.
With a dedicated dog GPS tracker, you can both stay on top of where your dog’s off wandering – and also make sure they’re too tired at the end of the day to run away.
Stay on top of your dog’s wellness
See how they’re doing at a glance with Wellness Score. Set goals. Compare with dogs like yours. Monitor sleep. Detect issues and keep them healthy.
“Taking an active role in your dog’s health is just part of being a responsible pet parent. It’s why we’re constantly working to make Tractive a part of your everyday life – and to help you stay on top of your buddy’s wellbeing. Plus the Walk feature is a fun way to help you stay accountable over time.”– Simona Fabryova, Product Manager at Tractive & seeing-eye dog trainer
Want a pro’s take on how often you should walk your dog? Here’s canine behavioral specialist, Nathan Williams, weighing in:
Your furry friend’s health and wellbeing means as much as to us as it does to you. So we’ve made it a priority to only share medically-relevant content on our blog.
This post was checked, double-checked, and medically verified by Georgia-based vet, Dr. Dwight Alleyne.
Dr. Dwight Alleyne, DVM
Dwight Alleyne was born and raised in Long Island, New York where his love of animals began. His career for animals began working for a well-known no-kill animal shelter on Long Island.
He worked his way up the career ladder working as a kennel technician, veterinary assistant, and then becoming a licensed veterinary technician at the shelter.
His passion for veterinary medicine led to him applying to and being accepted at Cornell University Veterinary where he graduated from in 2006. After completing a small animal rotating internship at Purdue University, he eventually made his way to Georgia where he has been practicing ever since.
Dr. Alleyne has practiced at several small animal clinics throughout Georgia. He has a keen interest in soft tissue surgery and has extensive experience in performing ultrasounds including echocardiograms.
When he is not practicing medicine, Dr. Alleyne enjoys writing and editing pet health articles and providing pet advice through telehealth.
Dr. Alleyne also has his own blog called “The Animal Doctor Blog.” Check it out on: www.anmldrblog.com.