How Much, How Often, and Age Limits for Walking Your Dog
Walking your dog is one of the easiest ways to exercise your dog (and yourself). It’s low impact, meaning it’s not hard on the joints, like running, but still works the cardiovascular system, aids in bowel function and helps your pet burn excess energy. But, can you walk a dog too much? What about your pet’s age or breed, do those make a difference? If you’re asking these questions, you’ve come to the right place because this guide will answer these and more about walking your dog.
Q: How Long Should I Walk My Dog?
Like humans, dogs need exercise to stay healthy physically and emotionally. Walking is one of the most popular ways to get moving and give your pet a potty break. While a quick trek outside might relieve your dog’s bathroom needs, a longer walk can improve your pet’s health in several ways. Walking helps your dog maintain a healthy weight, regulates digestive and urinary functions, and keeps the joints limber.
The general recommendation is dogs should get 30 minutes to two hours of physical exercise every day. If you have health concerns about your dog, talk to your veterinarian.
Q: How Far Should I Walk My Dog?
Your pace will mostly determine how far you walk your dog. When going the distance, most dogs are content with a one- to three-mile walk. However, if your pet covers ground when walking, you may end up walking many more miles than average. Factor in the weather, terrain, and inclines when you determine distance. If you keep your pet next to you as you walk, your dog will walk the same distance as you. On the other hand, if you have your pet on a long leash, they increase their mileage every time they go off the path, go back and forth, and circle you.
Q: Should I Walk My Dog Every Day?
Yes, if your pet is healthy and active, you should plan on walking your dog a minimum of 10 to 15 minutes every day. If you’re short on time, break up that 15 minutes into a couple shorter walks. Don’t have time to walk your pet each day? Shoot for at least two to three times a week, or ask a family member, friend, or a dog walker to walk your pet. If your dog is in poor condition and unable to walk, ensure they participate in other physical and mental activities like playing with chew toys or puzzle toys.
Q: Can You Walk a Dog Too Much?
While walking is good for your pet’s overall well-being, you can over exercise your pet. Your dog may suffer from joint injuries, sore muscles, damaged paw pads, heat exhaustion, or heat stroke. Too much physical strain can lead to a condition called exertional rhabdomyolysis, which is the breakdown of muscle that causes severe pain and kidney damage. If your dog is panting vigorously, slowing down, starting to limp, or refusing to move, it’s time to give your dog a break or stop activity.
Q: Do Size and Age Matter When Walking Dogs?
Size and age influence how much physical activity your dog needs. Fewer, shorter walks serve small breeds like Yorkshire terriers, Chihuahuas and poodles better than long treks. Because these little guys trot to keep with your pace, a casual stroll around the neighborhood should suffice.
Medium breeds like boxers, cocker spaniels, and whippets can keep up with you easier than smaller breeds. For this reason, they benefit from walking 40 to 80 minutes daily.
Large energetic and agile dogs, including hunting, working, and sporting canines cover a lot of ground, so a longer walk is better than a short stroll. High-energy dogs like Labrador retrievers, Siberian huskies, border collies, Dalmatians, and Irish setters, may need more than two hours daily walking.
Of course, the health of your pet further plays a role in how much and how far you should walk your dog. Short snout breeds like pugs and bulldogs are prone to respiratory issues and can easily overheat, so walks should be kept on the shorter side. Same holds for older dogs that may have arthritis or be overweight.
Q: How Fast Should You Walk With Your Dog?
Depends. If you’re walking for pleasure, a simple stroll works. Walking for fitness or weight loss, you need to get really moving. Maintaining an aerobic (fat-burning) pace is akin to a power walk, about 15 to 19 minutes per mile for most dogs. Your pet should be on a loose leash about two to three feet from you. Other signs your dog is moving at the right pace include a short step and rapid leg turnover rate. Although healthy, active dogs don’t require a warm-up before a fast-pace walk, following with a casual pace stroll can give your dog the time they need to smell the roses and relieve themselves. Always bring fresh, cold water (for you and your dog). At a faster pace, you should be lightly sweating. However, if you or your dog seem uncomfortable, slow down. Stop and check on your pet if you notice labored breathing or coughing.
Want information on running with dogs? We have a guide for that too: BarxBuddy’s Guide to Running With Dogs for Exercise