Why dogs need exercise
Exercise brings so many benefits to your dog. First, there are the obvious ones - regular exercise will improve and maintain your dog's overall fitness and keep them healthy, and ward off obesity (in fact, it can be a good idea to reward your dog with a walk or a game rather than food). But there are other benefits to dogs from regular exercise as well – it reduces stress and stimulates brain activity. And, like lots of people, most dogs like the opportunity to be out and about, exploring the neighbourhood, meeting other dogs and just generally enjoying life.
How much exercise does a dog need?
How much exercise a dog needs depends very much on the individual dog. The breed, age, health, and even the individual dog's personality all need to be considered. A puppy, for example, will want to exercise and play but will require regular rest breaks. Still, intensive exercise is bad for their bones and joints, so it needs to be avoided. In contrast, an older dog may have mobility issues or problems with hearing or vision that means sticking to shorter, familiar routes or, in some cases adopting an exercise routine that they can do indoors. For most dogs, though, the key is making sure they get regular exercise interspersed with rest breaks and going at the dog's own pace.
What counts as exercise for a dog?
Remember that when we talk about exercise for a dog, we're not just talking about walks. Of course, your dog will need regular, daily walks, but there are other ways to give them the exercise they need to keep them at the peak of health. Time spent playing with your dog – throwing and fetching a ball, for example – is still a form of exercise as well as being an enjoyable way for you and your dog to bond. You can even find yoga classes to do with your dog if you like!
Training also counts as exercise, and the brain-based challenges it presents are suitable for your dog's mental wellbeing as well. And sometimes, your dog will need some doggy time to themself, off their lead, chasing their tail, and letting off steam in a secure, dog-friendly area. A tracker device, such as the Safer Pet dog tracking app, can help you be sure your dog is getting enough exercise through its step tracking feature. In addition, its activity history function will show you how this activity has been distributed over seven days in an easy-to-read graph.
How much exercise does my dog need?
An important consideration for responsible dog owners when choosing a dog is to think about how much exercise the dog is likely to need and how much exercise they, as an owner, can provide. There are some rough guidelines set out below, but it's worth checking with your local vet if you're unsure about which dog is right for you and your lifestyle.
If you are a cyclist or a runner, you may find that, provided you build up your dog's stamina gradually and ensure proper hydration (for both you and the dog!), they enjoy keeping you company when you go out.
You may have limited mobility yourself, in which case, you'll want to get your dog used to walking alongside whatever mobility aid you use, or you may want to hire a dog walker to take care of that side of your dog's exercise needs. At the same time, you concentrate on less strenuous activities with your dog. Again, if you're worried that your dog isn't getting as much exercise as he should, the Safer pet tracker app can help you monitor this and ensure you're getting it right.
Which dogs need the most exercise?
Generally speaking, the bigger the dog, the more exercise it will need. Working dogs such as Collies and Huskies and gun dogs such as Springer Spaniels and Labradors tend to need the most exercise, probably at least a couple of hours a day. Bear in mind, though, that this exercise can take the form of training or games; it doesn't have to be just one long walk.
It's often better to split it up into a few shorter walks, so your dog doesn't wear themselves out, and using a tracking app can help you to work out how much you've done in total. Above all, take your cue from your dog – if they're still full of energy at the end of the day, they probably need a long walk. If they've had enough, they'll be fast asleep at your feet.
Which dogs don't need much exercise?
The smaller toy breeds such as the Bichon Frise or the chihuahua will need less exercise than a larger dog, but less doesn't mean any - you'll still need to ensure they get a minimum of at least half an hour's physical exercise a day. And don't be fooled by Terriers – they're small, and they're cute, but they were initially bred as working dogs; although they might not need as much exercise as a sheepdog, they still need a fair amount to keep them on top form.
Using the steps function on a tracker app with these dogs will help you to see how much exercise they're getting when you're not around as well. But, again, your vet should be able to give you advice before you decide which dog is for you, and your dog will tell you in their way if they're getting the exercise they need.