Daily exercise for dogs helps dogs maintain a healthy weight, prevent many health problems, and even improve their mental health. How much exercise your dog needs, however, depends on a few factors including age, size, weight, and any health conditions they have. In this article, we’ll give you some guidelines and tips to make sure your dog is getting all the exercise it needs.
How to Calculate Your Dog’s Exercise Needs
The exact amount of exercise your dog needs will depend on a few different factors. In this section, we’ll talk about how those different factors affect your dog’s exercise needs and how to calculate how much exercise is ideal for your dog:
Adult dogs need the most exercise while small puppies and senior dogs need the least. An easy rule of thumb to use is five minutes per month. That is, add five minutes of daily exercise for each month of age, up until your dog is one year old. For example, a three-month-old puppy should get 15 minutes a day.
By the time they are 12 months old, their daily exercise should be 60 minutes a day. Once your dog reaches about eight years, start reducing their exercise by five minutes per year. Continue this pattern until you reach 30 minutes. Older dogs can also have difficulty playing due to joint issues. If your dog has trouble moving around, try giving them glucosamine supplements or senior dog hip and joint supplements to help ease any pain or discomfort they may be feeling.
Large dogs need at least a full hour of exercise and sometimes more. Medium dog breeds typically need between 45-60 minutes, and small dog breeds will need just 30-40 minutes per day. For the calculation provided in the previous section, you will adjust it up or down based on your dog’s size. So you would only add 2 ½ minutes of exercise per month of age for a small dog and only 3-4 minutes of exercise per month for a medium dog.
Weight and Health
Exercise can help treat some health conditions and reduce the symptoms of many others. However, dogs suffering from weight or health problems can’t exercise at the same intensity as other dogs of the same size and age.
There’s no exact formula to calculate exercise needs for dogs with special health needs but in general, start closer to 30 minutes or less and see how your dog responds. If they show signs of over-exercise, then cut back. If not, keep it up or add time. If your dog is having difficulties losing weight, you may want to try putting them on a weight loss dog food or adjust their diet in another way.
Signs of Over-Exercise
Here are some of the most common symptoms of over-exercise to look out for:
- Excessive panting
- Excessive thirst
- Limping or refusing to continue the exercise
- Fatigue or sleeping more than usual
If your dog is experiencing any of the above symptoms, give them a day or two of rest. When they appear to have recovered, go ahead and start returning to a scaled back version of your normal exercise routine.
Six Outdoor Dog Exercise Ideas
A simple walk through your neighborhood once or twice a day is usually enough to cover your dog’s basic exercise needs. If you want to change up your routine or try something new, here are a few fun ideas for outdoor exercise for your dog:
- Go to a dog park
- Take a day hike
- Play tug-of-war
- Go camping
- Swim in a lake
- Play Frisbee
Playing outside gives dogs a chance to get some fresh air and time to explore. These are both things that are important for a dog’s physical and mental health.
6 Indoor Dog Exercise Ideas
While outdoor exercise is usually more stimulating, your schedule may not always allow for you to get all of your dog’s exercise outside. So when you can’t get outside, here are some ways you can help your dog exercise indoors:
- Chase them up and down the stairs
- Play hide-and-seek
- Play tug of war
- Teach them to walk on a treadmill
- Set up obstacle courses
- Train your dog to do new tricks
Even if you can’t go on a walk, you still need to make sure your dog is properly stimulated and has an outlet for their energy.