New year, new you! Whether you love making new years resolutions or think they’re a waste of time, we’re here to talk to you about something amazing your dog will love that can make them happier, healthier and live longer. Plus, this miracle process is completely free! That’s right: daily exercise. When everyone else is regretting their gym membership in February, you and your fluffy companion will still be going strong on your plan for 365 days of walkies.
The benefits of exercise for dogs
Regular exercise is important for a happy, healthy pooch. It’s key to fighting obesity, which can shorten your pet’s lifespan by up to two and half years according to researchers at the University of Liverpool. Plus on top of helping your dog keep physically fit, exercise provides much needed mental stimulation helping to ward off poor mental health and negative behaviours like chewing, digging and excessive barking. Not forgetting, it’s a great way to bond with your dog and is fun too.
But how much exercise does a dog need every day? Is there such a thing as too much exercise? And isn’t every dog’s need different? If you’ve warmed up properly and raring to go, read on to find out more.
How much exercise does a dog need every day?
Don’t forget each pooch is an individual with their own needs and nuances to considers. Exercise needs for dogs differ dependent on their breed, personality , lifestage and health.
Exercise needs by breed type
- Low activity dogs include toy dogs such as the Chihuahua and giant breeds like Newfoundlands. Less than an hour of exercise a day which includes indoor fun should suffice to meet their physical needs.
- Medium activity dogs like utility dogs who were bred for a purpose other than sporting or hunting such as the Boston Terrier need around 1-2 hours a day which you can split into 2 walks a day and indoor fun.
- Working dogs and gun dogs need the most exercise, at least 30 minutes of hard core activity in addition to their 2-3 hours a day.
- Don’t forget our non-sporting dogs! These were originally bred to work but now are more commonly found as family pets, such as the Lhasa Apso, Bulldog and Shiba Inu, and can be either low, medium or high activity. Our Smudge loves the outdoors and will happily go for a 2-3 hour trek with us and still have bursts of energy in the morning and evening for our playtime sessions.
Exercise needs for puppies and seniors
- Puppies need a lot of sleep for all of that growing and quickly tire, so short bursts of activity is best. Consider their breed needs and if you’re in the middle of toilet training or about to start, check our crate training guide for a useful routine of eat, play and sleep.
- As your dog grows older you might notice they slow down slightly. It’s still important to exercise your senior dogs to keep them healthy but go at their pace, slower, shorter walks are best.
Exercise to help your dog lose weight
Weight gain is common in certain breeds and many older dogs who adopt more leisurely lifestyles but don’t lose their taste for mealtimes and treats! As Smudge has gotten older, if we’re 5 minutes late for feeding time she’s sure to let us know. Estimates have over half of pets in the UK overweight or obese.
If your dog is overweight, it’s not usually necessary to change to a diet food but instead review portion size, treat count and exercise regime. Often the reasons behind overweight dogs are due to overfeeding and/or not enough exercise. Kick off getting them to a healthy weight by ensuring you’re feeding them the right amount of food – a measuring scoop will help – and your pooch will thank you for it. Our Scrumbles packs have multiple feeding guides which vary dependent on age and activity level. For overweight dogs, we recommend first cutting out treats and increasing their daily exercise. You can start slow by introducing an additional play session like ten minutes of fetch or increasing the dynamics of their walk – taking them for a hilly walk or just hiking ten minutes further. These small changes can help shift some of that excess weight without a need to reduce feeding. If your pooch needs to shift a lot of weight, reduce their food by 10% and increase the activity level further. Be sure to start gradually introducing more calorie burning activities to build momentum. Too much too soon can put your pet at risk of injury, so set manageable goals for the future and aim to make exercise a part of their lifestyle.
How much exercise is too much for your dog?
It’s important to know how much exercise a dog needs every day to avoid over exercising them. Perky puppies tend to have more energy than older dogs and the stamina to walk further at a quicker pace. It is possible to even over exercise even a puppy, though. The following questions can help you determine whether you need to take precautions when exercising your dog.
Does your dog have arthritis?
Pooches with arthritis or similar conditions may need restricted exercise so they can enjoy the benefits without causing any damage. Dogs with arthritis should avoid exercise that involves jumping. Your vet will be happy to advise you on what’s right for your furbaby.
Does your dog have a short nose, like a bulldog?
Shorter nosed dogs can find it difficult to breathe if they work too hard, so listen out for laboured breathing.
Does your dog have short legs?
Just like taking a toddler shopping can have them complaining of exhaustion and begging to be carried before you’ve made it to the checkout, little dogs will need to take shorter walks than their bigger brothers and sisters.
When you are exercising your dog every day be sure to watch out for signs of overexertion such as panting, limping, or flat out refusing to go any further.
Walking in all weathers
Dogs need exercise every day, but the changing seasons can prove challenging. Here’s some tips for walking in all weathers and don’t forget that you can continue to provide the mental and physical stimulation your dog needs in difficult weather as well as adjust how much you feed to avoid a paunch.
Keeping dogs safe in the summer
We all know that dogs shouldn’t be left in hot cars and similarly dogs can suffer from heatstroke on their walks. If it’s going to be very hot, you’ll want to change up your walking routine so you can avoid the sun at its hottest and go for a 20-30-minute walk in the early morning and late evening.
The ground can get incredibly hot and scorch our dog’s paws. As a general rule, if it’s too hot for you to comfortable have your hand on the floor, it’s too hot for your dog. Plan a route that involves shade and hydration, even if this means you bringing a big water bottle and umbrella with you.
Walking your dog in winter, come rain or snow
Rain or snow is usually no deterrent to a daring dog, but you can try to reduce their exposure to the elements by choosing to walk in places that have some shelter, like big trees or covered outdoor areas. Being out for long periods of time in lots of cold rain or snow could cause hypothermia, so put on the pooch’s waterproof jacket if they need to wear one.
Some dogs love to dress up and others don’t like Smudge, but in cold, wet weather outdoor clothing is your friend particularly for short coated breeds like greyhounds. Keep them warm with an appropriate jumper or coat.
When it snows, for some dogs like lhasa apsos, the snow can get stuck in their fur and restrict their movement on walks. It might sound counterintuitive but its best to keep the fur around their feet nice and trim during the winter to help here. Similarly, to hot weather burning their paws, you wouldn’t want them to get frost bite. Fret not booties are here and will keep their tootsies nice and snug. If your dog really opposes to booties try to find a clearer path for walks and always towel dry a wet dog when you get in.
Indoor exercise for your dog
As well as their daily walkies, you can also exercise your dog inside. Encouraging them to run up and down your stairs is a great game; just make sure the stairs are clear and check for snagged carpet or other hazards to ensure they can’t trip or hurt themselves. If you live in a block of flats you could also walk them up and down the communal stairs.
Even if you live in a bungalow, there’s still plenty of exercise oppawtunities. Fetch can be played in the rooms where you don’t keep your priceless ornaments and you can create obstacle courses with cushions, boxes and blankets for your hound to race around. Dogs love playing with toys and they can also burn calories playing games with you like hide and seek. You can even train your dog to help you with tasks around the house, like bringing dirty clothes to you ready for washing. Or closing cupboard doors – this dog is my hero!
Taking your furball for a walk around your local large pet store is a chance for them to enjoy a leisurely stroll that has endless amusements to sniff and discover.
How to get enough exercise for your dog when you work
Fitting in dog exercise when you work full time can be a challenge. For the time poor pet pawrent thankfully there are options.
It’s important for your pooch’s health and wellbeing that they aren’t bored and although they can be left alone, this should be for as short a time as possible i.e. less than 4 hours.
Are you an early riser? And like to exercise in the morning? Morning walkies and play with your dog is a great stress reliever to ease you in and out of the working day.
For most of Smudge’s life we’ve had jobs where she could join us at work and play with our colleagues or other dogs but when we weren’t able to, we used a doggy day care. These can vary significantly in cost and quality so shop around. And there’s also the option of a dog walker although we found it wasn’t much more expensive to have Smudge looked after for the whole day at our local doggy day care and we’d get pupdates with photos of her on her walks.
These things can add up, so it’s worth checking with your friendly neighbours if they’re happy to look after your pooch whilst you’re at work.
This might be a stretch depending on your workplace but what if Bring Your Dog to Work Day was every day? If your employer can be persuaded that productivity will soar with the addition of a friendly fluffball in the office this is a great get around. If you have an option to work from home, even just once a week, this is another avenue to explore.