Caring for a dog is a big responsibility, as they rely on their owners for all of their needs. Exercise is an integral part of keeping your dog healthy and happy. Not only does exercise help to build muscle, it can also improve overall health, reduce stress levels, decrease the risk of injury, and even help to prevent or alleviate destructive behaviours.
However, how do you know how much exercise your dog needs? The answer varies depending on a number of factors that may be specific to your dog or to their breed. Doing a little bit of research and some work with your dog can help you determine their exact needs.
How Much Exercise to Give Your Dog
When it comes to puppies, it’s important to remember that their bones are still growing and they cannot handle long periods of strenuous activity.
For puppies between the ages of 8–12 weeks, a couple of 5-minute exercise sessions a day should be enough to keep them active and healthy. As they grow older (up to 6 months), you can start increasing the duration and intensity of their exercise sessions.
After 6 months of age, most puppies can handle 30-minutes or more per day of moderate physical activity such as walking or playing fetch. Experiment with your dog to find out what engages them and keeps them the happiest.
For adult dogs with moderate exercise needs such as Corgis, Beagles, and Cavoodles, 30 minutes to 2 hours per day is recommended for optimal health. This amount can be divided up throughout the day or done all in one session – whatever works best for you and your pup.
Of course, as with any rule there are exceptions; some breeds may require less or more depending on their size and energy levels.
High-energy breeds such as Australian Shepherds, Jack Russell Terriers, Greyhounds, and Border Collies will require more frequent and intense activities than average breeds like Cocker Spaniels or Newfoundlands do – sometimes up to four hours per day.
Be sure to consult with your veterinarian before introducing any rigorous activity into your dog’s routine to make sure they are healthy enough to participate.
Generally speaking, larger, more muscular dogs such as German Shorthaired Pointers need more exercise than smaller breeds like Chihuahuas. Additionally, certain breeds may be genetically predisposed towards certain activities so it is important to know what types of exercises are best suited for your breed’s individual needs before embarking on an exercise regime with them.
For example, herding breeds like Australian Cattle Dogs may enjoy running off leash in wide open spaces while Labrador Retrievers may prefer swimming or fetching games instead.
Dogs with existing medical conditions may need to have their exercise routine modified accordingly in order to prevent further complications from arising due to overexertion.
If your dog has been diagnosed with arthritis or hip dysplasia, then they should not engage in any high-impact activities such as running or jumping which could further aggravate these conditions. Instead, focus on low-impact exercises such as swimming or leisurely walks around the block. These types of activities will allow them to remain active without putting too much strain on their joints and limbs.
Even normal daily activities may be compromised depending on the health concern – for example, Dachshunds are prone to intervertebral disc disease or IVDD, which can make it difficult for them to walk up and down stairs. For these types of special cases, consult with your veterinarian to determine what types of exercises would suit your dog.
Finally keep in mind that every dog is unique, especially when it comes to their activity levels, so it is important to recognize when your pup has had enough exercise for the day by looking out for signs such as excessive panting or slowing down during a walk or run. This means that it’s time for them (and you) to take a break!
Additionally, if you notice any signs of distress during an exercise session then stop immediately and call your vet for further advice. Some dogs, such as brachycephalic dog breeds, will also have to take more frequent breaks simply due to their physiques, even if they still have energy to spare.
In conclusion, although there are no hard and fast rules when it comes down to figuring out how much exercise is right for your pooch, ultimately it’s up to you as a pet parent to use common sense and your own discretion when determining a suitable level of physical activity.
Remember that too little or too much exercise can both have harmful effects on your pet’s well-being, so always err on the side of caution when exercising with your dog.