Dogs want to be in motion! Especially when they're young. This becomes increasingly obvious the longer you own a young doggy. But it might not be as obvious how much they need. If you're a puppy owner, we're here to help you figure out how much exercise your dog needs. But if you're an owner of an adult dog (or dogs), we're still here to help.….especially if they've gotten a little extra "fluffy" lately. So, how much exercise do you need to give your dog, and how do you go about starting?
How Much Exercise Dogs Absolutely Need
To figure out how much activity to give your dog, you need to know the minimum requirements for keeping them healthy. Many smaller dogs, especially toy dogs, need less exercise. Some smaller dogs need only 30 minutes! Chihuahua puppies will only need 2 sessions of 15 minutes to be utterly exhausted. While others need a bit of strenuous exercise, like the Greyhound. They need room to sprint because they can run an impressive 45 mph! Those muscles and limbs need a little extra stretch. Generally, dogs will need 45 - 60 minutes of physical activity, which gradually decreases as they get older.
However, don't think of these activity requirements as a hard and fast rule. 45 minutes is a lot for a little dog or even for a bigger dog if the activity is strenuous. It can be (usually be) better for you to give your dog separate exercise sessions. For example, if you're giving your dog 30 minutes that day for a walk or running around outside, split the activity into 15-minute walks.
One of the best options for starting a routine with your dog is splitting the exercise into manageable activities. 2 sessions of 15-minute walks is one example. Another is coming outside periodically throughout the day to play fetch. Whenever you split your exercises into segments, you get your dog and you used to the new exercise. Because a small start is not just for your dog, it's for you. Starting slow allows you to take on the responsibility of exercising a dog, especially if you're not exactly a fan of exercise yourself.
Another good reason to start small is if you have a brachycephalic dog. That's a big word for having a smushed face. When these kinds of dogs go on runs, walks, chase a stick, or do any physical activity, they will struggle to breathe as well as other dogs. So, slowly ramping up physical activity will ensure these breeds will have the ability to breathe effectively. Pugs are a good example of brachycephalic dogs. Just listen to them run and you’ll see why starting slow is a good idea.
What to Do About Extra….Fluffy….. Dogs
The exercise routine looks slightly different if your dog has gained a few extra pounds. The unhealthy excess weight has a few adverse health consequences that change the routine. For example, your dog's joints help your dog move but also act as shock absorbers. Every step with that extra weight adds even more physical force on its body. The damage won't be noticeable at first, but it can begin to take a toll over time. So exercising those extra pounds is essential for your dog's health, but you need to switch its exercise routines around.
Whereas an energized dog will be able to play -tug-of-war, play with other dogs, wrestle, and run with you on a bike, an unhealthy dog needs to be more careful. Shorter walks that you would have for a smaller dog will be a good start. If it's incredibly fluffy, you may need to go to a vet to discuss special accommodations for an exercise routine.
But generally, your dog should be super excited to exercise, so its fluffiness should be kept to a minimum naturally. Just don't give in too much to those puppy dog eyes.
How Much Exercise Your Dog is Capable of
Your situation might differ from figuring out what your dog needs. If you're an athlete yourself, you might be wondering what dogs are capable of.
Some dogs are little (or not so little) Olympic athletes, and they can get after it. If you're looking at doing some intensive exercise with your dog, we can help you with where to start!
One of the more common intensive exercises to do with a dog is to ride a bike while it runs. It's very intensive for your dog, who's right with you on foot. Even if you are an athlete, some dogs can run faster and longer than you. Most dogs are faster than you think and some are faster than the fastest athletes. We already mentioned how fast Greyhounds are. But the popular German Shepherd can fly too! German Shepherds can run up to 30 mph!
So, some dogs can handle running with you on a bike for a while. It's worth trying out if you've never done it before as it gives your athletic dog time to run, and it even gives you exercise! All without gassing yourself out.
Stick With It
Regular exercise for your dog doesn't have to be complicated. Make it something you can and are willing to do consistently. And keep in mind your specific dog's health. Your dog might do more or less what other dogs of a similar breed can do. And you can use your dog to get your own exercise on that day! So get your steps in, or toss that frisbee for your furry friend. Maybe find a good dog park for it to exercise in.
Whatever physical activity you choose, don't forget to have fun! You can always transition to activities that allow you to play with your dog if you find them to be too dull.