As our veterinary expert Brian Faulkner explains, exercise is important for the physical and mental wellbeing of dogs. Check out our visual guide to dog exercise needs by breed to see if your pet is getting enough daily activity.
One of the most important responsibilities we have as dog owners is to make sure our pets are getting enough exercise. Daily activity is important for their physical wellbeing, including maintaining a healthy weight, staying fit and reducing the risk of arthritis. But it is also absolutely crucial for our dogs’ mental wellbeing, too.
Engaging in exercise helps keep your dog’s brain active and relieves stress. Burning off all that energy also helps to ward off doggy behavioural issues such as overexcited barking, aggression or destructive rampages around the house. Plus, it’s also a chance for you and your dog to spend some quality time together.
So, what’s not to like? Well, fitting dog exercise into busy days can sometimes be challenging. But the good news is, you don’t have to hit your dog’s exercise target in one go. Shorter sessions of activity throughout the day will add variety, and prevent your dog (or you!) getting over-tired.
Why is dog walking so important?
Every healthy dog should be doing some walking, each day. And it doesn’t have to be a route march: remember that for your dog, one of the most stimulating things about their walks is sniffing out all those intriguing scents along the way! Try not to rush them, but give them time to enjoy this natural behaviour. A dog walk is also a great time to carry out some simple training with your pet, or play games. Vary your routes, too, so that you and your dog don’t get stuck in a rut!
How much exercise should my dog get?
Which requires more of a daily workout, a Staffie or a Springer? How much exercise does a Cockapoo need? And when could a Westie do with more walkies? We’ve put together a dog breed exercise chart for 20 of the most popular breeds, so you can see at a glance how much exercise your dog needs.
Bear in mind, however, that the chart only contains rough minimum exercise guidelines for each breed. The amount of exercise your dog needs will not only depend on their breed, but also on their individual state of health, preferences and age. Puppies and senior dogs, for example, will have less stamina than an adult of the same breed.
How much exercise does your dog need (at a minimum)? View our fun infographic to find out!
Dog exercise ideas
Walking isn’t the only way to give your dog a workout, so think about other types of activity. Many dogs love nothing better than a classic game of fetch with a tennis ball or Frisbee. (Just avoid throwing sticks – it’s easy for dogs to hurt themselves on sharp or splintered pieces of wood.)
A rope game of tug-of-war taps into dogs’ natural instincts to wrestle and chew. High-energy dogs may particularly enjoy trying their hand at agility and obstacle courses and trails. And swimming is a very effective dog exercise that’s also easy on the joints – so a great choice for senior dogs. Rainy days or cold weather don’t mean you need to give up on dog exercise – just adapt your routine.
As well as needing varying amounts of exercise, different dog breeds may suit certain activities, or have particular exercise needs. Think about the activities your breed was traditionally known for. Most terriers, for example, are great at ferreting out hidden treats! High-endurance dog breeds, such as Border Collies, make great hiking companions. Greyhounds and other hounds that traditionally hunted by sight are likely to enjoy short-distance sprints, if you fancy running with your dog. On the other hand, flat-faced breeds, such as Pugs, will struggle with any strenuous aerobic activity that interferes with their breathing. But light exercise – such as walking or a very brief game of fetch – is important to keep them in shape.
View our dog breeds exercise chart to find out how much exercise your pet should be getting.