How Much Exercise Does a Dog Need? Know Everything

Relationship between the dog and the owner
Image by Sven Lachmann from Pixabay

A good dog is happy and healthy. Not only humans but dogs also need some good exercise to stay fit. The sign of an active dog is the amount of physical activity, including dog sports, dog walking, dog exercise, and physical workout. A dog will rely on his owner to keep him in good health. Fit dogs are less likely to suffer from heart disease, obesity and arthritis problems. So, the question is “How much exercise does a dog need?”

Signs of Good Health :

A dog’s health depends on factors such as:

1. Coat

The general condition of a dog’s coat & skin is a good indicator of his health. Whether long or short, a healthy coat is lustrous and pliable, without bald spots, dandruff or excessive oil. It should not be coarse, brittle, flaky, greasy or bumpy. Nutrition and health influence the texture and shine of your dog’s coat from the inside.

Skincare and regular grooming from the outside will also help in keeping your dog’s coat clean and free of tangles. The breeds of dogs whose hair grows continuously and does not shed require regular visits to the “dog salons” for shampoo and a haircut.

2. Skin

Healthy skin ranges from pale pink to black or brown depending on the dog breed. It should not have ticks, lice, fleas, or other external parasites. A healthy skin should be clear and supple. Regular brushing of your dog’s coat removes dead skin cells and helps to redistribute and stimulate natural skin oils. A sufficient amount of all nutrients is crucial for healthy skin.

3. Nose

A dog’s nose can be pink, black or self-coloured. It is usually moist and cool. Nasal discharge should be clear. The pet’s nose may appear to be dry because of insufficient blood flow in the body.

A moist nose is an indication of adequate hydration in the body. The nose should be of the same size on both the left and the right side. It shouldn’t show signs of textural or pigmentary changes. Consistent inwards and outwards flow of air should be noticed from both nostrils.

4. Ears

A large amount of wax or crust in a dog’s ear is abnormal. Some brownish or yellow wax is okay. The internals should be clean & light pink in colour. The ears should not be smelly. Scratching or pawing excessively at his ear, tilting his head to the side or repeatedly flipping his head may be a sign of discomfort due to some ear problems. If your pet is turning around in circles or appears a little off-balance, then there might be some serious inner or middle ear infection.

5. Eyes

A minimal amount of mucus and clear watery tears is normal. The whites of the eyes should be white, not red or yellow in colour. Eyelashes should not touch the eyeball. Healthy eyes are shiny & bright.

Eyes should be free from any kind of dust, dirt or inflammation. A dull eye surface, excessive tearing, unusual discharges or cloudiness within the eyeball might be a symptom of an eye problem.

Healthy Dog Eyes
Image by Doris Metternich from Pixabay

6. Gums

Healthy gums are firm and black or pink in colour. Sometimes, it may be spotted as well, just like the dog’s skin. They should be moist and smooth to the touch. Cherry red gums might be painful for your pet as they might bleed easily.

Infection, toxicity or poisoning may be a reason for the red gums. Growth in the gums is not always a cause of concern, but sometimes it may be cancerous or painful.

7. Teeth

A young dog has 23 baby teeth and an adult dog has around 42 permanent teeth, depending on the dog’s breed. The teeth should be firm, boney and yellowish-white or off-white. You should brush their teeth with dog-safe toothpaste using either a finger brush or a soft-bristled toothbrush. You might even purchase a doggy dental kit to care for their oral hygiene.

8. Mouth

Make sure that the breath is not foul-smelling. Special attention needs to be given to the dog’s teeth and mouth to prevent serious infections. You can give your doggy rubber toys or a natural bone to chew on, which will help strengthen their teeth and help remove plaque or food from their teeth.

9. Temperature

The normal temperature range of a dog’s body is 38.3 to 39.2 degrees Celsius, which is hotter than a normal human body temperature. You will need a rectal thermometer to measure your dog’s temperature. Their body temperature can increase when they become excited or stressed.

A clinical thermometer
Image by Adriano Gadini from Pixabay

10. Heartbeat & Pulse

Heartbeats vary for dogs of a particular breed because of a wide range of sizes. A healthy heart beats from 50 to 130 times per minute in a resting dog. Small dogs have faster heartbeats as compared to adult dogs.

11. Weight

The weight management of a dog depends on daily exercise. The optimal weight results from a balanced diet and enough exercise. If a dog is getting proper exercise and nutritious food and is still underweight or overweight, he may suffer from some health risks.

Why Is a Dog’s Exercise Routine Important

1. For the Stability of Their Physical Health

Dogs benefit from exercising daily as it helps them to stay healthy and in shape. Exercise results in healthy body weight and toned muscles, besides an active metabolism. It maintains the dog’s physical energy. Exercise is essential for a dog’s mind as well as physical energy.

2. For Their Mental Stimulation

Physical activities play a huge part in the dog’s mental stimulation. Exercising builds confidence and trust among young puppies and helps them to socialize with people and other dogs. It also helps the owner to form a strong bond with his/her pet.

3. To Reduce Unwanted Behaviors and Bolster Positive Ones

Besides affecting the dog’s physical and mental well-being, exercising also impacts their behaviours. It keeps the dog healthy and reduces behavioural problems such as unnecessary barking related to separation anxiety, chewing, digging the garbage, predatory behaviour, biting and other anxiety-related problems.

4. To Find a Balance

Regular exercise helps a shy dog to become more “outgoing and happy”. Socialization means introducing our dog to the world so that he is comfortable around different people and other dogs. It brings confidence and positivity to a dog and he becomes more friendly and accustomed to his surroundings. Exercising also reduces undesirable behaviours in a dog.

How Much Exercise Does a Dog Need Daily

1. Puppy

Puppies usually have more energy as compared to adult dogs. And so they require more exercise in short bursts. They have a huge amount of energy but not the stamina to cope.

General Guidelines:

i) Short Play Sessions :

Puppies are little furballs of energy. Their playing period is followed by a long time of rest and napping. The owner should hold a few short walks and play sessions to also give them an introduction to the world. Dog sports will become a heavy workout for them, which is not appropriate.

ii) Make Sure You’re the One to Introduce Exercising and Playing Sessions :

This will make your puppies less demanding. Start slow first.

iii) Do Not Overwork Your Pup :

Over-exercising can be a damaging factor for your new friend’s developing mind and body. Let them sleep if they’re sleeping. You should wait for at least one year before making them your running partner so that their joints and bones are fully developed and they do not strain their cartilages. This is important, especially for large breed dogs.

iv) Keep Their Safety in Mind :

Do not overexpose your puppy to the outside world if they’re not fully vaccinated or if its immune system is unstable. They could easily catch infections which could further lead to serious diseases. Daily walks on non slippery surfaces will keep their paws and limbs rigid and in full health.

v) Learn Your Pup’s Breed :

Regardless of their phase in life, some dog breeds are genetically and physically built to exercise more than others.

How much exercise does a dog need?
Image by minka2507 from Pixabay

2. Adult Dog

How much an adult dog needs exercise is highly influenced by his breed. High-energy dog breeds require a lot more exercise than low-energy breeds.

i) Smaller Breeds

Small breeds such as poodles, Javanese and Chihuahuas are less active.

Chihuahua - A small breed dog
Image by Herbert from Pixabay

ii) Giant Breeds

Despite their massive size and strength, giant dog breeds like Great Dane, St. Bernard, Scent hounds, geriatric dogs and Irish Wolfhound are known to be lethargic.

A giant breed dog - Great Dane
Image by Martin Tajmr from Pixabay

iv) Active Breeds

Active dogs such as Retrievers, German Shephards and Dobermann flourish under plenty of exercise and action. They should be given 60-90 minutes of exercise for their body and brain to remain healthy and in active condition.

v) Flat-Nosed Breeds

Brachycephalic breeds or flat-nosed breeds such as Boxer, Pug and Shih Tzu suffer from breathing and respiratory issues. They should not be engaged in strenuous exercise that can tax their breathing. Over-exercising can cause them to slow down and can also lead to respiratory disease. You may exercise your dog for short times. A slow walk is preferred for them.

3. Senior Dog

Age-appropriate exercises should be kept in mind for ageing senior dogs. The dogs might not be able to run as fast as they once could, so you’ll have to restrict their running to walking. The dog’s age should be given priority.

Exercises such as power posing, building up the rear and lateral walking can be performed in the comfort of the home. A tired dog should be allowed to have a proper resting time to replenish his energy.

Tips on Dog Exercise 

Taking your dog around the block for a walk is a great outdoors exercise start. Many dogs, even the couch potato ones love short exercise sessions once in a while. Supply your dog with treats and toys to make him feel like an achievement.

The answer to the question “How much exercise does a dog need?” depends on various factors. But one thing that can be said for sure is – every dog needs exercise whether it be a long walk or a brisk walk, once in two days or twice a day. No matter the dog’s behavior, size, age or breed, keeping him engaged and happy will lead to a healthy and long life.

1. Spaces and Places for Dogs to Exercise

Make your dog’s walk time more enjoyable by taking him to a dog park, national forest, beach or local park where they can feel the freedom and beauty of the outside world and enjoy themselves to the fullest.

Taking them outdoors will make their walk time less monotonous and more entertaining. Most dogs love it more when they are outdoors as compared to indoors. Outdoor exercise is a great way to make your dog love nature.

A park
Image by Peter H from Pixabay

2. Giving Them the Proper Attention

Working parents can also leave their dogs at the doggy daycare, where the volunteers will exercise your dog, take care of the dog, feed them the proper amount of food required by them for a balanced meal and also engage them in various physical activities such as games including hide and seek, playing and chasing after a tennis ball.

A dog needs love and attention from his owner as much as an infant needs from his parents. A dog should not be left alone in the home for a long period as it will sadden him and won’t even benefit his physical and mental activity. Mental activity may include: Treat hunt, Puzzle toys, Obstacle course, Stuffed kong and many more.

3. Going Out With You While You’re Cycling

When you cycle on a safe bike path with no dangers, you can take your dog for a walk to accompany you. Remember that your dog is away from all the dangerous road elements like a speeding vehicles. Going along cycling with your dog will get your dog moving and give strength to his limbs and muscles. Walking is a great exercise for both humans and dogs.


Swimming exercise will improve your dog’s muscular strength and tone due to the resistance of the water which will make it harder for him to swim as compared to walking or jogging on the land. 1-minute of swimming for a dog is equal to 4 minutes of running. Swimming also helps strengthen the dog’s cardiovascular and respiratory systems.

A swimming dog
Image by Thomas from Pixabay

5. Obedience Training Exercise for Dogs

The two common methods for training a dog are:

Aversive-based Method –

An aversive-based or discipline-based method is when you use negative reinforcement and positive punishment to get your dog to act the way you want them to. This training uses techniques like – harsh scoldings, loud and unpleasant noises and physical corrections.

Reward-based Method –

Reward-based training includes rewards like belly rubs, your dog’s favourite food, treats and other dog-pleasing activities. Rewards are awarded to the dog when he behaves in the way he was supposed to. It is used for behaviors you want your dog to follow.

6. Indoor Dog Exercise

Some indoor dog exercises include – walking up and down the stairs, hiding and seeking, fetching the ball, using the treadmill and playing games of tug.

Final Note 

Dogs are lovable and reliable creatures. You’ll be very happy with the outcome if you give them the right amount of care and affection with the necessary exercises and meals.

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