One of the best things about owning a dog is spending time exercising with them. Dogs delight in getting outside for fresh air and a sniff around the neighborhood.
They love going for a walk or running with their canine friends at the dog park. Even indoors, they’re often ready for a game of hide and seek or to try an obstacle course.
As dog owners know, exercising with a canine has definite health benefits for people as well. You get a good physical workout and it’s just plain fun. Read on to learn more about what exercise does for dogs, and how to plan the best exercise program for your favorite pooch.
Why do Dogs need Exercise?
Just like their dog owners, canines need regular exercise to stay in shape and help avoid health issues. It’s common knowledge that a daily cardio workout on an exercise bike, or participating in a group fitness program, can protect people from heart disease and too much weight gain.
Essentially, the rewards of exercise are the same for our dogs. An exercise routine gives your dog an opportunity to move their muscles, and it keeps their heart strong and supports optimal lung function.
Not only does regular exercise keep a dog’s body in shape, but it also helps their mind stay sharp. In addition, a pet that’s engaged with enough physical activity is less likely to become bored or lethargic.
How Much Exercise Does a Dog Need Daily?
As your veterinarian will tell you, the amount of dog exercise needed depends on a few factors − your dog’s age, their health and their breed. Having said that, most canines need about one or two hours of exercise daily.
When exercising with your dog, watch for signs that they’ve had enough. If your dog shows symptoms of exhaustion like slowing down, panting heavily or wheezing, back off the exercise plan. Make sure they have access to fresh water and there’s a shady spot where they can rest if it’s a warm day.
Give your dog time to recuperate and if their interest and energy level picks up again you can, try a little low impact exercise. Generally, a schedule that splits exercises into two periods during the day works well.
Having a puppy is a great adventure. These youngsters are either exploding with energy or sleeping – there’s no middle ground. Make sure that your pup is getting the right amount of exercise by working with this behavior. When they’re up and ready, it’s important to exercise your dog.
Whether it’s a walk outside or playtime indoors, offer activities in short amounts. A puppy doesn’t understand their own limits, so you need to really pay attention to how much exercise they’re getting.
Their body is still growing. Joints and limbs are developing and it’s easy for a pup to overdo things. Ask your vet about dog exercise if you’re unsure how much your puppy needs.
The main influence in how much exercise Max or Molly needs is their breed. Certain dog breeds need more exercise than others. For example, some dogs are bred for hunting or sporting exercises. These include Spaniels, Collies, Retrievers, German Shepherds, and Pointers.
Other breeds like Basset Hounds, Chihuahuas, Bulldogs, Pomeranians, and Pugs are often content with a few short daily walks and some indoor playtime. Of course, dogs are individuals too so keep in mind that there’ll be some variation in exercise requirements.
The other considerations in activity level are your dog’s age and health. Since a dog is more prone to health issues as they age, the two often go hand in hand.
A senior dog should be watched for things like weight gain and joint issues. Not being active enough can lead to health risks such as obesity and further exacerbate joint problems.
If your dog has a problem like hip dysplasia or has less energy due to their age, get advice from your veterinarian before embarking on a new exercise routine. Your canine may not be as agile as they once were or may tire more easily, so you want an exercise plan that suits them. If your doggo has been part of the family for a while, you’ll likely understand how much exercise they typically need.
What Kind of Exercise is Best for Dogs?
There are so many terrific ways to exercise your dog. Pet parents and their pups both appreciate a little variety sometimes in the usual exercise routine. Focus first on anything that gets the two of you outside regularly for some fresh air and socializing with other dog owners and their canines.
Then, supplement this with a range of indoor activities for those rainy days, or just to enjoy one another’s company. Take a look at the suggestions below.
Outdoor Exercise Ideas
Dogs absolutely love to be outside – so many interesting sights and smells! Here are a few tips for outdoor activities.
Joining you for a cycle is a great way for your dog to get a good cardio workout. Be sure to pick a safe place to ride, like a bike path. This exercise should be introduced slowly so your dog learns how to keep up with you while not getting in the way. Remember to have them leashed during this activity.
Signing your doggo up for agility classes or obedience school is one way to involve them in dog sports. This form of exercise offers mental stimulation for your canine as well.
These days there are more and more new options all the time. For instance, dog sports can include scent work, flyball, lure coursing, dock diving and canine freestyle.
Read up on what these activities are all about and how you can experiment with some of them to exercise your canine. You never know, your pup may become good enough to enter a competition!
Hiking usually means exploring new landscapes, so it’s no wonder your dog will be all in for this outdoor exercise. Trails offer different types of terrain, from easy walks through woods to rugged hikes over hills.
Take into account the length of the trail and your dog’s fitness level before you head out. Many places will have a trail map so you can see what you’re in for and plan your exercise accordingly.
Most dogs are quick to learn a game of fetch. Some like running after balls while others are happy retrieving a Frisbee after a mid-air catch. Mix it up for this dog exercise with a new toy to throw or pitching a floating ball into water.
Take your doggo with you when you exercise on rollerblades, inline skates or even with a skateboard. You’ll want to have your dog on a leash for safety – just as you would for cycling. Who knows, your dog might want their own skateboard and be the next pet sensation on social media?
Almost every canine loves the water, and swimming is great low impact exercise. It might come naturally to your pooch or you may have to give them a few swimming lessons. Regardless, a doggie life jacket will help them stay afloat and remain in the water longer without tiring as much. If you’re teaching your dog to swim, start slowly in shallow water and help them learn to like the feeling of it first.
This is the ‘go to’ exercise for most pet parents and their pooches. Most residential neighborhoods are walk-friendly for dogs and people. While out walking, let you dog stop and sniff when they want to. This is how they find out what’s going on outside and which of their doggie friends have taken the same route.
Going for a run or a jog with you is another approach. Not every dog takes to this activity; exercises like this could be too strenuous for some. If you’re going to take your dog running, begin slowly, bring water for your pooch and take regular breaks to make sure they’re doing okay.
Indoor Exercise Ideas
You might not think there’s much to do indoors with your dog, other than to be a couch potato, when the weather is bad. Indoor exercises simply require a little imagination. Here are some tips for dog exercises to get you started:
Make an agility course inside by using what you have on hand. Teach your dog to jump over a low ottoman or through a Hula-Hoop.
Train them to walk around obstacles you’ve placed down a hallway or crawl under a blanket laid over the backs of two kitchen chairs. With a little encouragement and lots of praise your dog will enjoy the physical and mental stimulation from these dog exercises.
Try getting your canine up and moving by placing morsels of their dry food around your home and having them hunt for them. With your dog’s strong sense of smell, this won’t take very long and they’ll appreciate the mental and physical stimulation.
Dogs are like kids when it comes to having fun with hide-and-seek. Tell them to stay while you find a hiding place. Then call them to come and find you. It may take a little while for them to understand how the game is played, but it will certainly keep them engaged.
Playing Tug of War
Tug of war is a dog exercise that many canines take to. There’s such a variety of tug products in pet stores, that you can tell it’s a popular way for dogs to get some exercise. Be aware, that this game can bring out a predator instinct in some canines, so play with care.
Keep your dog’s muscles strong with a little running up and down the stairs. You can incorporate a game of indoor fetch by throwing their ball down the stairs and telling them to run down and bring it back to you.
Show some excitement to get them in the mood and offer praise to keep things going. This training can give your dog quite a workout, so take note if they seem to be getting too tired. Smaller breeds may tire more quickly.
It’s not every canine that has the legs to run on a treadmill. Larger breeds that need lots of exercise may find this easier. No matter what breed of dog you have, begin slowly. Turn the machine on to let them hear the sound it makes and see how the platform moves.
Next, have your dog stand on the treadmill and reward them with a treat. Gradually, start the treadmill moving on its slowest speed. Remain at the front where your pooch can see you as you encourage them with treats to walk towards you.
Our Final Thoughts
No one wants to see their canine friend develop obesity or other health problems. And, there are so many options for keeping Sammy or Sadie active and healthy.
Would you believe there are even products like exercise balls for dogs? Once you’ve cleared any concerns with your vet, experiment with a few new ideas and watch how your doggie thrives!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a dog get too much exercise?
Yes, watch for signs that they’ve had enough like panting or lying down so they don’t overdo it.
How can I make sure my senior dog gets enough exercise?
Walking is great for a senior dog’s overall exercise needs.
How much exercise does a puppy need?
A puppy needs lots of exercise to support their growing body. But they need close monitoring, since they haven’t learned their limits.