You can tell when your dog hasn’t gotten enough exercise. Maybe it was 30 degrees outside, and you skipped the long exercise walk in place of a quick potty outing. Now, your dog is playing tug-of-war with your blanket, begging for playtime at midnight when all you want to do is sleep.
As a dog-owner, I too have done the lazy 5-minute walk, only to be harassed by my dog for the rest of the evening. She paws at my legs, slaps me with her toys, and plays musical chairs with my lap. I want to a quiet snuggle companion on a cold night, but she’s too energetic to calm down.
A Lack of Proper Exercise Leads to Anxiety and Problem Behaviors
Happy, healthy dogs require both physical and mental stimulation. After eight hours of waiting in a quiet house while you’re at work, is it any wonder your pup expects a long walk, coupled with a few games of fetch? In fact, a lack of regular exercise can cause anxiety and boredom, leading to “problem behaviors,” like chewing on furniture, digging into the couch, and other destructive issues caused by your dog trying to release excessive energy. Regular fitness and mental exercises can dramatically change your dog’s behavior — from wild and hyper, to a perfect household companion.
Exercise Your Dog’s Mind and Body
An average dog needs at least one hour of exercise and mental stimulation per day, which can include things like:
- A long walk
- Playing fetch
- Playing tug-of-war
- Hiding small, healthy treats around the house or yard, and letting your dog find them
- Playing hide and go seek
- Taking your dog for a car ride
- Visiting a dog park
- Solving dog puzzles
- Practicing tricks and skills
- Hiring a professional dog walker
- Swimming and hiking
- Visiting a doggy day camp
- Socializing with a friend
Your dog needs a mixture of physical exercise and mental exertion. If you’re too tired to take a long walk, some stores sell quiet dog puzzles that provide fun and mental stimulation for your dog, while you rest. Items like snuffle rugs, treat dispenser puzzles, or burrowing toys are great for exercising your pup’s brain when the weather isn’t ideal for a long walk or trip to the dog park. A tricky brain activity helps burn energy, and keeps your pup happy and focused.
Benefits of Exercise for Dogs
Just as a lack of exercise leads to restlessness and anxiety, an increase in exercise will lead to a more stable and happy dog! Dogs who receive regular physical and mental exercise often become even better companions for their humans, and get benefits such as:
- Increased focus during training time
- Decreased anxiety and restlessness
- Increased ability to understand commands
- Healthier skin, fur, muscles, and mind
- Helps doggo maintain a healthy weight
- Increased life expectancy
- More shared memories
- Deeper bond with human companion
Plus, dogs love exercise and games, so your pup will likely enjoy every moment of playtime, park-time, and walk-time with you!
So, How Much Exercise Does Your Dog Need?
While exercise is good for dogs, there can always be too much of a good thing! The goal is to have a relaxed, happy pup at the end of the day — not a completely exhausted dog that can’t get off the couch.
The right amount of exercise for your dog depends on many factors, such as breed, age, size, and physical health. It’s always good to check with your veterinarian before starting a new exercise program with your doggo!
Before selecting a new furry best friend, it’s a good idea to consider your own activity level. If you’re an all-star athlete who runs daily, you may want a larger, active dog like a Lab. But if you prefer couch-snuggles and pizza, you might consider getting a smaller, less energetic dog like a Pekingese.
Large, Active Dogs: More active pups require more intensive exercise! These dogs should be getting between 60-90 minutes of exercise, including some high-energy play time! Take this dog for your morning run or a long afternoon hike. If you don’t have the energy for a long walk, try taking this dog to a park where they can run around freely. Or, hire a dog walker to let your dog exercise and play during the day when you’re at work!
Large, Low-Energy Dogs: If you’re seeking a large, furry, calm snuggle-dog, there are some large breeds who are low energy. Scottish Deerhound, Great Pyrenees, Greyhounds, Great Danes, and Saint Bernards are all furry cuddle-lumps. Saint Bernards, for example, will actually become easily exhausted if taken for lengthy or strenuous walks. For these breeds, a 15-20 minute stroll is just fine. But be careful, as these more “lazy” breeds are at risk of weight gain. Consider taking them for a 15-minute walk twice a day, rather than just once, so that these dogs can get a recommended 30-minutes of exercise to maintain healthy bodies.
Small, Energetic Dogs: Despite their small stature, some small dogs, like Miniature Poodles or Terriers, still require a lot of exercise. Otherwise, you’ll come home to de-stuffed feather pillows and a wild dog with a spring in his bottom! These dogs could use a 45 minute walk, followed by 20 minutes of fast-paced playtime and socialization.
Small, Low-Energy Dogs: Pekingese, King Charles Spaniels, French Bulldogs, and Pugs are usually calm dogs who enjoy snuggling on the couch and eating treats. If you’re looking for a belly to rub while watching movies, these breeds are for you! However, they still do need some exercise — but a casual 20 minute stroll around the block, followed by 15 minutes of fetch, tug-of-war, or some other game will probably be fine for these pups!
Puppies: Puppies may seem to need a lot of exercise, but be cautious — puppies don’t always recognize their own exhaustion. The AKC shares, “Since puppies are constantly growing, including several short walks or play sessions throughout the day is a safer choice than going for one really long walk, as this can be too hard on your puppy’s developing body.” For puppies, it’s recommended to add 5 minutes of play for every month of a pup’s age (until they reach one year). So a two month old puppy may want to play for 2 hours, but you should only play for 10 minutes before taking a break.
Most of all, listen to your pet’s personal signals and the advice of PetMD: “If he is restless or pacing, he is probably itching to get out for a nice long walk. If, on the other hand, your dog is content to just lie around, there may not be such a great need for exercise. A short walk will be enough to keep everything in order.”
Tips to Ensure Your Dog Gets Proper Exercise
Especially after an eight to ten hour work day, it can be hard to find the energy to take your dog for an hour-long walk, followed by a rousing game of fetch and brain puzzles. But you feel guilty kicking back with a movie when your dog is gazing at you with sad, playful eyes.
If you lack the time or energy to get your dog enough exercise and stimulation, it may be time to hire a professional dog walker. A professional can ensure your dog gets a long walk, even on a cold day. Instead of laying around waiting for you to get home, your pup can look forward to a playdate with fetch, tug-of-war, and hide-and-go-treat
At the end of the day, WoofPack’s goal is to leave your pet well-fed, happy, and tired — so when you get home, you can just enjoy spending time with your dog.
Our Local Dog Walkers Exercise in Cary, Apex, & Holly Springs
Let your pup stretch his legs and get some exercise while you’re at work! Schedule an appointment with a professional dog-walker from WoofPack Pet Care, and we’ll come visit you and your pup for a free consultation and socialization visit!
Want to hear a few testimonials first? Look at who’s been wagging their tails from the extra fun an exercise our team provides!