You’ve added a brand new member to your family and a furry one at that. Congratulations! Now what? Puppies come with their fair share of cuteness, accidents, cuddles, and training faux pas, but what about keeping them active and healthy?
Knowing how much exercise a dog needs at each stage of their lives can be what makes or breaks your new relationship with your canine friend.
Safe Exercises for All Dogs
There are many ways to keep your dog active and healthy; the most common activity is going for regular walks. While walking is a great way to get exercise, it can get boring and may not get rid of your dog’s excess energy or stimulate them enough.
Alternatives and additions to daily walks include playing with toys, taking them to a dog park for exercise and socialization, and dog obedience training. Some more options include:
- Short walks
- Playing Tug-of-war
- Playdates with other dogs
- Games like fetch
- Flat hiking trails
- Obstacle course
- Running together
- Mountain hikes
- Agility training
- Strength training
- Obedience classes
- Exploring new areas together
Puppies vs. Adults
All dogs are fantastic in every stage of their growth, but it’s no secret that puppies and adult dogs have very different needs. Being in tune with their needs at every stage is necessary for your dog’s safety and happiness.
Types of Exercise for Puppies
Puppies need more exercise than adult dogs due to their growing bodies and their inherent energy levels. A bored puppy is a destructive puppy. Playing with toys, attending obedience classes, and daily walks are all equally important for young dogs. This routine gives you a chance to build a relationship of trust and authority with the puppy while also saving your throw pillows!
Building a trusting relationship with your puppy is one of the first steps to maintaining a healthy and robust relationship throughout your dog’s life. Any activity that allows you to maintain contact with your dog while keeping them active is beneficial. Puppies enjoy contact with their humans, and it shows them that they’re loved.
What’s Age Appropriate for Puppies?
Taking your puppy for a walk in the neighborhood or to a dog park to make new friends are both excellent ways to get their energy under control and help them stay active. Puppies have more health needs, though, and shouldn’t have exposure to other dogs until they have received all of their vaccinations. Once that’s complete, keeping track of your dog’s behaviors around new dogs will help keep your puppy safe, too.
Adult dogs don’t need as much exercise as their younger counterparts, but that doesn’t mean they can lie around the house all day either! A well-trained dog can spend time running with other dogs at the dog park, hiking on a trail, or playing with toys.
If your household has multiple dogs, they often entertain themselves! As long as they are up-to-date on their vaccinations, they can be around other dogs for less structured exercise options.
Even though it can be challenging for senior-aged dogs to get around, due to joint issues, exercise is still essential. Always exercise your dog to their limits and not push too hard. When your dog starts to show signs of slowing down or pain with exercise, have your vet check them out and approve or recommend changes to their exercise plan.
How Much Do They Need?
As with the intensity level of the exercise, the quantity is different for dogs at various ages in their lives. It is important not to overwork your dog, nor allow them to lie dormant all the time. Some breeds are lovingly referred to as “rugs” as adults, but they still need some exercise!
How Much Exercise Does a Puppy Need?
Puppies will let you know when they need more exercise. They can go from zero to sixty with no warning. They often find themselves running circles throughout the house, jumping across furniture, digging through loose items and garbage cans, and so much more. When your puppy starts to get restless, it is time for more training and exercise!
Rest is also essential for your growing pup, so it is best to exercise them for short periods, alternated with rest time. This routine is more accessible because you can rotate various play and exercise options with slower activities like training them for basic commands.
The more training you can give your puppy, the easier it will be to know what kind of exercise they need, too. Boredom is never a good option for a young puppy!
Spreading out exercises for puppies throughout the day is a great option. Like older dogs, listening to your dog’s cues and discussing options with your vet will be necessary.
Dogs need anywhere from 30 minutes of walking to two hours. Don’t let that scare you, though; the walking doesn’t need to be done all at once. Dogs that need more exercise typically benefit from multiple walks as opposed to one long walk.
Taking a walk several times a day can be enough for many puppies. Breaking it out into a schedule can help your dog with routine and predictability, which both help build trust.
- Morning walk before breakfast
- A short walk over your lunch break
- Longer walk before or after dinner
- A short walk before bed
One bonus to all these extra walks is helping to build potty routines for your dog, too!
How Much Exercise Does a Dog Need?
Adult dogs will give cues about how much exercise they need, just like puppies, though they tend to be much less destructive! In a multi-dog household, dogs will begin to play with each other when their energy has built up enough. That is often the first clue it’s exercise time but keep in mind that they need different amounts of exercise based on their breed.
Some dogs, bred to be work dogs like shepherds, Huskies, and Labradors, will need more exercise throughout the day. They do best when they get frequent exercise. These dogs enjoy a rigorous 30-minute exercise plan along with several hours of activity time, which can be achieved through less structured activities like playing with other dogs.
Larger breeds require less exercise because they have more need for rest. Great Danes, Saint Bernards, and other large breeds have slower metabolisms than smaller dogs, and they tire more easily. Therefore, they need less activity in their day.
Smaller breeds seem to have never-ending battery power, and they seem unstoppable. Smaller breeds need a great deal more exercise and less rest time. Chihuahuas, terriers, and other toy dogs can’t keep up with some of the same activities as larger breeds, though. Training your chihuahua to run a marathon is unrealistic. In contrast, a labrador would be jubilant when invited to join your long runs. Exercises for dogs can be varied and fun.
Keep in mind, too, that dog breeds with shorter noses like boxers and bulldogs will have difficulty breathing for vigorous exercise. Maintaining safe practice for these dogs means being aware of their breathing needs and limiting them to a brief walk around the block.
Ultimately, discussing your dog’s needs based on age, breed, and health will be an important conversation to have with your family veterinarian.
Signs of Too Much Exertion
Dogs display a variety of clues to let us know when they’ve been overworked. Some things to keep an eye on include:
- If their tongue is hanging out and droopy
- Excessive panting
- Changes in their gait or pacing
- Refusal or disinterest in the exercise
If you encounter any of these concerns with your dog, take them home and get them adequate rest and hydration right away. If all they’re doing is stopping every few minutes to sniff the latest fire hydrant, they’re just exhibiting curiosity about their surroundings. This curiosity makes an excellent opportunity to add some brain workouts and tests their obedience skills.
Keeping a close watch on your dog’s cues will help remind them that you notice them and value their needs.
Exercise for Overweight Dogs
When a dog becomes obese, their exercise plan needs to change. Alongside dietary changes, implementing a more active exercise regimen will be fundamental to your dog’s health. As you gently increase activity based on your dog’s specific health and needs, you’ll be able to see the changes in its weight.
If the dog has any health issues like hypothyroidism or Cushing’s, this will affect their ability to exercise and lose weight. That doesn’t mean they can’t exercise, just to take more care in their routine.
Final Thoughts on Safe Exercise
When exercising your dog, no matter the age or breed, it is essential to pay attention to the clues your dog is giving you. When we listen, our dogs communicate with us about their needs. Providing safe places to explore and exercise, keeping them vaccinated, and regular veterinary check-ups will be key to a long and healthy life for your dog.