Healthy dogs: How much exercise do they need?

Dog Health Oct 18, 2019

Daily exercise is vital for both you and your canine companion. And not only for physical health but for mental wellbeing as well.

So, it makes sense for you and your dog to get out in the fresh air, together (when possible) every day.

But let's face it. Sometimes life gets in the way.

For instance, dogs tend to get walked less in the winter months than in the summer. It's often colder and darker by the time many of us get home from work, and the thought of going outside is less appealing than in the warmer months.

But other things can happen too, from family commitments to ill health. Perhaps a new job is taking up much of your time. Or maybe you’re just too tired at the end of a long day to pound the pavement with your pooch.

It's times like this when you need to know who your local dog walker is or sign up for a dog walking service. Thankfully, getting a little help is more convenient than ever. Online dog walking services can provide you with peace of mind, matching your needs with reputable, experienced local walkers.

There are many reasons your dog needs daily physical activity. But the amount and type of exercise can vary from breed to age of your furbaby.

So, let's take a look at what that means and what you can do to make it work with your busy schedule.

Benefits of exercise for your dog

Generally speaking, regardless of size, age, or breed, all dogs need daily activity.

Even senior dogs and those with mobility issues need to keep moving. Just like humans, once we stop moving, our body begins to deteriorate.

However, do seek advice from your vet if you're concerned that your dog is experiencing pain during exercise.

How exercise benefits your dog:

  • Daily exercise helps maintain muscle tone and body strength.
  • Regular walks aid the body to function efficiently.
  • Whether it's a run, walk, swim or tug of war, the activity provides intellectual stimulation.

The consequences of no exercise

Boredom, frustration, and, of course, lousy health can result if you don't maintain a good exercise routine for your favourite furry friend.

This can result in:

  • Some dogs become destructive unless they are regularly exercised and mentally stimulated. This can present as but is not limited to, chewing your shoes or gnawing at the legs of your dining room table.
  • Your dog will lose muscle mass which can lead to serious health issues. In the worst cases, this can lead to muscle atrophy, meaning your dog will no longer be able to support its own weight efficiently.
  • One of the most apparent side effects is, of course, weight gain. Though this can be true of well-exercised dogs too. So keep an eye on how many treats your dog is consuming.

Exercise ideas

Every dog needs exercise but obviously, your chihuahua doesn't need the same level of activity as the staffy next door. If you're struggling to determine what type of training and how long, your vet will be able to advise you.

But a general guide would be:

  • Between 40 mins and a couple of hours of physical activity per day is sufficient for most dogs. That might sound like heaps but try breaking it up into morning and evening exercise. And trust us, your dog will love getting two walks per day.
  • Working dogs like kelpies or hunting dogs such as labradors will need the most exercise. That means making sure they get a good run, not just a brisk walk.
  • Even some bigger dogs can be happy with a fast-paced walk around the park. Bulldogs, for instance, need fresh air and stimulation but aren't particularly energetic.
  • Monitor your dog's behaviour. If they seem restless following a walk, then try more exercise next time. Similarly, if exhausted, work with less intensity in future.
  • Change your routine to keep boredom at bay. This could be as simple as exercising at a different park or taking an alternate route when strolling to the beach.
  • Try to find somewhere for your dog to swim. Most canines love the water, and for older dogs, it's a great way to alleviate sore joints.
  • Keep an eye on the weather. Particularly during the Australian summer, don't walk your pup during the hottest part of the day. Heat exhaustion and burnt paws are a real risk to your pooch. A good rule is if it's too hot for your palm, it's too hot for their paws.

The bottom line

Do what you can to keep your dog fit and well, regardless of the challenges.

In some cases, of course, you'll need to readjust the ideal scenario to suit your doggies specific needs.

For instance, your dog may have social issues and need to be on a leash at all times. In such cases, finding and regularly working with a qualified trainer, experienced with your pups particular requirements is a great way to keep your dog stimulated, exercised and hopefully develop the skills he needs to run with the pack.

The reality is that there are about 5 million dogs in Australia. All with a unique personality and individual wants and needs. So take time to bond and really get to know your furbaby.

Bottom line, whether you're lucky enough to live next to the local dog beach or your pooch is happy pottering around the suburb on lead with their human (or walker) by their side, your dog needs daily exercise to keep him happy and healthy, just like you.

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