Big or small, young or old, dogs need to be exercised daily. While some breeds have special needs that have to be taken into account, and dogs do slow down as they age, they still need to take part in some form of daily physical activity. Without activity, you dog will become bored, frustrated and unhealthy. Exercise tones the muscles, helps the body and metabolic system to function properly, and engages the mind. Anyone who has had a dog that suffers from lack of physical activity and mental stimulation will tell you that they will often turn to destructive behaviours – behaviours that magically disappear once the dog is getting out everyday.
Physically, dogs will also become obese if they are not allowed to burn off the calories they take in during the day. This is especially true if they are being given a lot of treats in compensation for lack of attention.
How much is too much exercise?
Though exercise needs are based on a dog’s age, breed, size and overall health, your dog should spend between 30 minutes to two hours on an activity every day. Breeds in the hunting, working, or herding groups will need the most exercise. If your dog is in on of these groups and is in good health, they should be getting at least 30 minutes of rigorous exercise along with there 1-2 hours of daily activity.
Requirements aren’t as easily established for every other dog. Because most dogs are of mixed heritage, their needs will be different depending on the breed they are descended from. If you dog is a short nosed breed, like a Bulldog, for example, they will not need a lot of daily exercise. A casual walk around the neighbourhood will be sufficient. Pay attention to your dog’s signals. If they are restless or pacing, they are probably itching to get out for nice long walk. If, or the other hand, your dog is content to just lie around, there may not be such a great need for exercise. A short walk will be enough to keep everything in order.
Dogs that are less active or older may have conditions that are slowing them down. Whether it is because of too much weight, achy joints and muscles, or they just like to mellow out most of the time, they still need some activity to keep the body working as it should.
If you have any concerns about whether your dog can handle a long walk or whether you should implement an exercise plan for them, talk to your vet. You don’t want to pressure your dog into doing things that are too strenuous or you could end up with bigger problems, and observe how they respond, adding more activities or more mileage as they get stronger. Your dog should be happy tired, not exhausted, when you have done exercising them for the day.