How Much Exercise Does a Dog Need?
You’ll hear us often recommend that a first step in calming a high-energy dog is to give him an outlet to burn off energy. A tired dog is a good dog. But, how much exercise do dogs need? How much exercise is too much?
The amount of exercise dogs need depends on your dog’s age, size, breed, and overall health. Younger dogs and puppies tend to require more physical activities; as dogs age, their activity levels lessen. If you’re trying to figure out the best exercise routine for your dog (and maybe for you too?), we’ve broken down experts’ recommendations for physical stimulation by breed types.
Always talk to your veterinarian about the best exercises for your specific dog, whether it’s walking, fetching, swimming, running or other healthy activities you can do together. Ask your veterinarian if your dog has any physical limitations, such as hip dysplasia, a condition that commonly affects larger dog breeds, as well as midsize dog breeds including pugs and bulldogs.
High Energy Dog Breeds
Some dog breeds tend to be innately more active than others. This can be traced back to their ancestry and the reasons they were bred — breeds like shepherds were bred to work on farms, so they tend to be higher energy. So, if you have one of these breeds or a mixed breed with ancestry that tracks back to one of these breeds, you’ll want to arrange a lot of exercise for them.
If you’re considering adopting a new dog and researching the best breeds for apartments or small spaces, the following list might not be the best match, especially if you don’t have a yard where they can run free and burn energy.
The American Kennel Club lists the following breeds among their list of high-energy dogs. You’ll note that a lot of them fall into the working, herding, and sporting groups of dog breeds.
- Australian cattle dog
- Border collie
- Doberman pinscher
- Dutch shepherd
- Finnish spitz
- Flat-coated retriever
- German pinscher and shorthair pinscher
- German wirehaired pointer
- Giant schnauzer
- Golden retriever
- Great Pyrenees
- Ibizan hound
- Irish setter
- Irish water spaniel
- Labrador retriever
- Russell terrier
High-energy dogs should get 60 to 90 minutes of rigorous exercise a day, and you can split this up into two or three separate play sessions. A 20-minute walk before you head off to work, followed by an afternoon tug-of-war session, might be enough to help these breeds burn pent-up energy.
While we’re talking about playtime for dogs, have you seen our dog toy that suctions to a hard floor? We designed it to challenge dogs and keep them busy while their owners focus on other things!
Low-Exercise Dog Breeds
Some dog breeds require less activity, which might include breeds that fall under the AKC label of “calm” dog breeds. Even though these dog breeds might be lower energy than herders, retrievers, and shepherds, all dogs need moderate exercise every day. Just like us, dogs need regular exercise to stay healthy.
Toy breeds and giant breeds tend to require less exercise, but again, check with your veterinarian for the best exercise plan for your dogs.
- Basset hound
- Bergamasco sheepdog
- Biewer terrier
- Cavalier King Charles spaniel
- French bulldog
- Pyrenean mastiff
- Slovensky Cuvac
- Romanian Mioritic shepherd dog
- Tibetan spaniel
Smaller breeds and older dogs benefit from about 60 minutes of play every day. Break it into two or three shorter sessions. Take a 20-minute walk in the morning, a mid-day round of ball chasing, and an early evening walk in the neighborhood.
How Much Exercise Do Puppies Need?
Puppies have a LOT of energy, much like toddlers and preschoolers. But just like their tiny human counterparts, they also need longer periods of rest throughout the day (Remember naps? We miss naps.).
Exercise your puppy for 5 to 10 minutes three or four times a day. Watch for signs that they’re tiring — slower response times, distracted attention, laying down — and don’t overdo it.
How Much Exercise Do Senior Dogs Require?
Older dogs are more prone to arthritis, heart disease, and other health disorders that can limit their activity. Always defer to your veterinarian’s recommendations about how much and what type of exercises are best for your older dogs.
Most older dogs still benefit from some form of physical activity at least 30 to 60 minutes every day, split into two or three separate shorter sessions. Strolls through your neighborhood are perfect for dogs that are older, as is low-impact exercise like swimming.
Senior dogs (and all dogs, to be honest) benefit from mental stimulation as well. Nosework games keep them moving, albeit slowly, while challenging their brains.