In school, teachers always reminded us that the best recipe for health is a balanced diet and exercising. And it’s pretty much the same for our pets. Dog exercise is a must.

Unlike many of us who would rather skip the exercising part, dogs are almost always into it. Whenever I say to my Beagle: “Ava, let’s go for a walk,” she instantly wags her tail and waits for me at the door impatiently.

As pet owners, we must do what’s best for our furballs, even if we have no desire to go on a walk in winter. So, how much exercise does my dog need to stay healthy? 

Read on to find out:

Why Do Dogs Need Exercise?

Exercise keeps dogs in shape, prolongs their life, and maintains their cardiovascular and immune systems. But there’s more to it than that. Unlike our work and social activities, all our pooches have is the home they share with us and the activities we’re taking them to.

As much as we need socializing, dogs need it, too. To burn all that energy down, dogs need physical and mental stimulation daily. Otherwise, they become bored, destructive and start chewing everything they can get.

But dog exercise isn’t only about killing boredom. It helps them reduce obesity, control weight, and reach ideal body composition. Not to mention the bond you and your dog build by playing fetch or enjoying a walk in the park. 

What Are the Benefits of Dog Exercise?

The benefits are countless — building a stronger heart, denser bones, keeping dogs in shape, and preserving their brain activity.

A brisk walk in the park or around the neighborhood can do magic for your dog’s physical and mental health. Now, imagine the benefits of a daily exercise routine. 

Here’s a list of what your dog will gain if you keep it physically and mentally active:

  • Burn calories
  • Reduce the risk of obesity
  • Decrease the likelihood of health issues, like arthritis, or hip and elbow dysplasia
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improve endurance
  • Strengthen the lungs and heart

According to a Royal Veterinary College study, obesity and arthritis are among the 10 most common diseases that develop in dogs regardless of the breed. So imagine how much you can improve your pet’s health with daily dog exercise.

Here are some of the mental benefits:

  • Low risk of depression
  • Decreased anxiety
  • Helps dogs feel a natural high and feel happier
  • Reduced common behavior problems
  • Stress relief
  • Keeps the brain active

Unless a dog is teething, the only time when it becomes destructive or misbehaves is when boredom hits. That’s when dogs engage in activities like chewing, digging, excessive barking, and even get aggressive. 

According to a recent study, stress and health issues reflect on your dog’s behavior and aggression. Hence, it’s crucial to keep your dog physically and mentally stimulated. One way to deal with that is by offering some indestructible dog toys.  

How Much Exercise Does a Dog Need Everyday?

The amount of exercise your dog needs mostly depends on its age, breed, and health.

When dogs are still puppies, it’s best if they get no more than five minutes of exercise for each month of their age. They should receive that two times per day. To make things clearer, let’s be your dog exercise calculator. If your dog is five months old, it needs 25 min, two times a day, or 50 minutes in total.

So how much exercise does my dog need? Once a dog gets older, its exercise needs will mostly depend on the breed. Larger puppies will likely need more activities, but that isn’t always the case.

According to the AKC, the most active breeds include:

  • Pembroke Welsh Corgi
  • Shetland Sheepdog
  • Dalmatian
  • Russell Terrier
  • Siberian Husky
  • Golden Retriever
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Border Collie
  • Australian Shepherd
  • Beagle

These breeds need a dog exercise program of at least two hours per day. Aside from physical stimulation, they also need mental play.

If you’re wondering what the least active dog breeds are, some of them include:

  • Basset Hound
  • Havanese
  • English Bulldog
  • Shih Tzu
  • Chow Chow
  • Pug
  • Maltese

They’ll do fine with indoor activities. Still, we recommend taking them outside occasionally for a short walk in the park or around your home. 

Exercise for older dogs needs to happen at a calmer and leisurely pace. 

Bichon Frise dog running

Tips to Have in Mind

No matter the breed, it’s crucial for every dog to get plenty of physical and mental activities. So when you’re buying or adopting a dog, look for a breed that suits your lifestyle. After all, in most cases, you’re the one who chooses the dog and not the other way around. To be a happy pet owner, select wisely and be honest with yourself about the amount of activities you’ll want to do with your pet.

If you’re an active and outdoor person, look for more energetic dog breeds. In contrast, laid-back people should search for a dog that needs moderate physical activity. In any case, keep the following tips on dogs and exercise in mind:

  • Once you take your dog home, incorporate exercise activities slowly and on a lead. Let your dog get used to the environment, and take your time to make the walks and exercises a daily routine.
  • If you’re confident that you can exercise with your dog off-leash, ensure you’ve established good recall training. Treats can be helpful at the beginning, but some breeds need training with a professional.
  • For dogs with medical issues, always consult your vet on how to exercise your dog. If you are a first-time dog owner, consult your vet no matter how healthy your dog is.

Ways to Exercise Your Dog

Exercising your dog mostly depends on the mood and activities you prefer. Still, you can stimulate your dog physically outside, as well as inside. The crucial part is to do it daily and get into the habit. Dogs work better with a routine rather than doing things sporadically.

Let’s explore some of the activities you can do with your dog. 

Walking

Walking is the universal form of dog exercise. It strengthens the heart, lowers blood pressure, and reduces the risk of depression. Also, it can help dogs behave properly. Plus, the benefits are fantastic not only for the dog but for you, too. 

Hiking

Hiking is another awesome activity you can do with dogs. It’s incredible to finally reach that mountain peak with your faithful fluff companion by your side. But before you take your pooch hiking, consider the breed and its capability. Labrador, Husky, and Australian Shepherd are among the best dog breeds for hiking. If you’re not sure whether your dog can handle it, always ask your vet.

Swimming

Swimming is also a recommended exercise for dogs. It improves endurance and strengthens the heart and lungs. Some breeds love swimming, but others aren’t that much into it. If your dog falls into the latter category, start the exercise slowly and patiently. You can add toys to make your dog dive into the water. English Setter, Poodle, and Irish Water Spaniel are a few of the many breeds that love to swim.

Cycling and Skating

An alternative to enjoy your time and exercise is to skate or bike with your dog. Just make sure that your dog won’t wander away and take it on a leash. You can even find a special dog leash for biking.

Fetch

It’s hard to find a dog breed that isn’t up to play fetch. Dogs will wag their tail at home or outside any time you toss a ball or play with a frisbee. It’s an excellent game that you can do while you sit. It’s a good alternative for a laidback person that still wants to bond with their fluff. 

Other dog exercise ideas include: 

  • Obedience training — You can either look for easy tricks to teach the dog yourself or enroll your pet in a dog kindergarten.
  • Tug of war —  It was one of our favorite games when we were children. And dogs enjoy it just as much. We recommend XiaZ Retractable Rope Tug of War Toy on Amazon for extra durability.
  • Dog sports — Running and swimming are just the tip of the iceberg. Check what sports the pet centers nearby are offering and sign up for indoor dog training. 
  • Agility training — It provides excellent physical and mental stimulation for dogs. You can start with the XiaZ Dog Agility Course Equipment on Amazon.

No matter what exercises you choose, practice them with your dog daily.  If you’re one of those people that’s always busy, a weekly plan with assigned exercises per day can ease the stress. 

brown dog with tongue sticking out on a background of trees covered in snow

How to Exercise a Dog in Winter?

Exercising your dog in winter is a challenge, especially for pet owners that prefer staying indoors. Luckily, you can find more awesome ways to keep your dog active and stay consistent with exercising.

Here are a few activities you can do with your pet in winter.

Doga

Have you heard about yoga for dogs? You can take your dog to yoga classes, or you can add it to the many exercises to do with your dog at home. All you’ll need is a yoga mat and doga classes on your TV. If your dog isn’t into it, you can try the YINXUE Large Dog Snuffle Mat on Amazon. It’s awesome for physical and mental exercise. 

Indoor Swimming pools

If you have a Labrador or Poodle, they’ll appreciate a dog swimming pool. And if you love swimming, that could be a jackpot. You’ll both enjoy the time in water spent together. Who wouldn’t want to stay in a warm pool when the weather is cold?

Indoor Pet Center

If you live in a place where the weather is mostly rainy and chill, chances are there’s an indoor pet center you can use. They offer various activities you can engage your dog in. Running, with or without obstacles, or just socializing are ways for your dog to participate and meet new friends.

How to Exercise a Dog Indoors

Sometimes we’re way too tired, especially if it’s rainy or cold outside. Here are a few indoor activities that you can do with your dog to help it stay active.

Use the Stairs

Whether you live in an apartment or house, there are probably stairs you and your dog can use. You can encourage your pet to march up and down by using a treat or a favorite toy, or you can race with your pet. That way, it’s fun for both of you.

Take Turns on the Treadmill 

To engage your dog in working out, you can put treats at the end of the treadmill. But be aware of the speed. Adjust it to your dog’s breed and health condition. If you’re not a treadmill person, you can research dog treadmills. It’s among the best dog exercise equipment. 

Hide and Seek

Here’s an awesome physical and mental exercise. You can use treats, toys, or hide yourself. It’s an excellent form of entertainment and a way to bond with your dog.

Conclusion

Now that you know all about the benefits of dog exercise, you understand how crucial it is to keep your pet in shape. Plus, by walking your dog, you get to burn some calories, too. Studies show that pet owners get more frequent activity compared to others. Dog owners spend nearly 300 minutes a week walking their dogs. That’s 200 more minutes than people without a dog. So dog exercise benefits everyone.

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