How much exercise does a dog need everyday
People often ask how much exercise does a dog need everyday. We have created this dog exercise calculator as a guide to enable you to calculate how much exercise is best to meet your dog’s needs.
To use the “How much exercise does my dog need calculator” to calculate how much exercise your dog needs everyday there are several factors that need to be taken into account.
The breed of your dog and their energy levels is the first thing to consider. Select the category your dog fits into from below. This guide to exercise needs is for fully mature adult dogs only. The exercise needs of a puppy are different as they are still growing and developing. To learn more about this read “How to exercise a puppy”.
The next factor to consider is your dogs’ weight. If your dog is a normal healthy weight then follow the recommended amount of exercise. If your dog is overweight or even obese reduce this by around 20-30% or look for low weight-bearing exercise such as swimming. It may seem strange to recommend doing less exercise for an overweight dog, but this is to reduce the stress on their joints and tendons and heart and lungs due to the extra body weight. Exercise in itself has little effect on helping a dog to lose weight (around only 10%). The main contributing factor in a weight loss program is actually to reduce calories consumed. Logically it takes a lot of activity to burn relatively few calories so it is more efficient to consume fewer calories.
The third factor to take into consideration for your dog’s daily exercise needs is age. From around the age of 7 or 8 dogs are considered to be senior dogs.
This age can vary from breed to breed depending on the average lifespan expectancy for that breed. For a senior dog reduce the daily recommended amount by 20-30%. It is important for an older dog to still stay active to keep the muscles and joints strong but not to overdo it. It is about finding the right balance. Read “How to exercise a senior old dog” for more on this.
The final factor is any health issues the dog may have such as arthritis, hip dysplasia or an illness. In this case, it is best to discuss your dogs exercise needs with guidance from a vet. You may be interested in “How to exercise an arthritic dog” or “How to exercise a dog with hip dysplasia”
Over exercised dog symptoms
It is important to provide your dog with adequate exercise to keep them healthy, to prevent behavior problems caused by boredom and pent-up energy and make them feel happy. This not only includes physical exercise but should include mental enrichment. Mental stimulation can use as much energy as physical activity. To learn more about providing mental stimulation read “Mental enrichment and mind stimulation” and also “Top 7 Puzzle Toys for dogs”
It is also just as important to not over exercise a dog which can result in injury, heat stroke or worse. Read “over-exercised dog symptoms” to learn more
Symptoms of over exercise can include
Excessive panting during or after the exertion
Lagging behind when they are normally in front raring to go
Any lameness, limping or a reluctance to exercise or continuing to exercise
Confusion and lack of focus.
Appearing to be overtired after the exercise, or sleeping or laying down more than normal
Signs of overheating or heat stroke. As dogs can’t cool themselves in the same way humans do by sweating it is possible to overheat even if the weather isn’t that hot. For more on the signs of overheating or heat stroke read “Exercising your dog in hot weather”
Dog exercise needs by breed
Below are the various categories of breed and dog energy levels. This is for adult dogs only and should not be used in the case of puppies. Take the recommendation of quantity and type of exercise relative to your dog and make any adjustments to take into account age for senior dogs and weight factors for overweight dogs. Remember, this is only a guideline and every dog is an individual. Your individual dog’s needs may be more or less than another dog of the same breed. If you have a mixed breed they will have similar exercise needs to the breeds they are mixed with.
What dogs need the most exercise
The exercise needs of a dog are often based on what they were bred to do. Working, hunting or herding breeds are among the most high energy breeds and often very intelligent meaning they require as much mental enrichment as they do physical exercise.
For a guide to ways to exercise the more high energy breeds read “How to tire a high energy hyper dog”
The sporting breeds include pointers, retrievers, setters, and spaniels. These dogs were originally bred for a long day of work, many of them have been used as hunting companions for years. These breeds are naturally alert and active and require daily invigorating exercise of between one hour to two hours.
Examples of the sporting breeds are German Short Hair Pointer, Golden Retriever, Gordon Setter, and Springer Spaniel.
The recommended type of activity for these breeds is brisk walking or running, hiking, and high intensity play such as fetch. Many of these breeds are also natural swimmers so swimming is a good way to burn up their pent up energy while putting less stress on joints and bones. Read “Exercise for Retrievers” and “Exercise for Spaniels” for some ideas of the type of activity that suits the sporting breeds
Daily exercise time 60 – 120 minutes
The working breeds include Siberian Huskies, Rottweilers, Boxers, Doberman, and Bullmastiffs These breeds have their origins as farm and drafting dogs so are excellent at pulling weight such as carts or sleds. Read “Muscle building and strength exercise for dogs” for exercise ideas for these breeds.
These breeds also excel at longer, steady activities such as hiking rather than high-intensity short burst activities or running.
Exercise time 60 – 120 minutes
Herding breeds include sheepdogs, collies, and shepherds. This group also includes the Standard Poodle. These dogs need to be mentally and physically challenged due to their high intelligence and energy. The best type of exercise for these breeds include high-intensity activities that burn energy fast such as running or games such as fetch or frisbee or dog sports such as agility. They also need to be mentally challenged so scenting games and puzzle toys are highly recommended.
Read “How much exercise does a German Shepherd need” and “How much exercise does a Border Collie need” for exercise ideas for these type of dogs.
Daily exercise time 60 – 120 minutes
The Terrier breeds include bull terrier, Airedale terrier and the many smaller terrier breeds such as Jack Russells and Yorkshire terrier. They were originally bred to chase prey such as rodents. Recommended activities for the terrier breeds include moderate walking and high-intensity games such as fetch and Flirt Pole. They are also highly intelligent and have a keen nose so mentally challenging and scenting activities are also good. Check the list below for your particular terrier breeds exercise needs.
- Border Terrier
- Jack Russell
- Pitbull Terrier
- Staffordshire Bull Terrier (Staffy)
- Yorkshire Terrier
Exercise time 60 – 90 minutes
This group includes the beagle and bloodhounds. These breeds have similar exercise needs of the sporting breeds. They are also very driven by their nose so any scenting type activity will help to burn some energy while giving them much needed mental stimulation. An exception is the Basset Hound which would be considered more of a medium energy breed. For games that the scent hounds would love read “12 Scenting and Nose tracking games”
Daily exercise time 60 – 90 minutes
What dogs need little exercise
Brachycephalic dogs are dogs with a squashed face like a Bulldog (French and English) or Pug. Due to their pushed in faces they have compromised air passages and are prone to overheating. It is important that they still do get exercise as they are often prone to obesity. However, they are generally exercise intolerance and any activity should be moderate and exercise in hot weather should be avoided. For more on exercise for the Brachycephalic breeds read “French Bulldog exercise guide” or “How much exercise does a Pug need”
Daily Exercise 20 – 30 minutes
Medium energy dog breeds
Toy and Small Breed
This group includes dogs from the Chihuahua to the Bichon or Shih Tzu. They generally have only moderate exercise needs with a daily walk of 20 to 30 minutes and some free play being sufficient. The exception would be the toy and miniature poodle which are more active and also intelligent, so require a little more physical activity and plenty of mental stimulation. Read “How much exercise does a Cockapoo need” for a similar breed with needs matching a small Poodle.
Check the list below for your particular small breed dog. If your particular dog’s breed isn’t listed, select the breed most similar.
Daily exercise time 30 – 60 minutes
The sighthounds include the Greyhound, Whippet and the Wolfhound. Read “How much exercise does a Whippet need” to learn more. These hounds have lower exercise requirements than scent hounds. Even though the greyhound is a racing dog they are bred for sprinting and only need moderate exercise. A moderate pace walk of around 30 minutes a day and maybe some short sprints is enough to keep them healthy.
Daily exercise time 30 – 45 minutes
The Giant breeds include the Leonberger, Newfoundland, Great Dane, and Saint Bernard. These breeds only have moderate exercise needs as they are having to move such a large frame. However, it is important to still be moderately active to keep their joints and bones strong and for weight management. Many of the Giant breed dogs are keen swimmers, so swimming is a great exercise for them as it is low weight bearing. Read “Exercise for Giant Breeds” for more on types of exercise for giant breeds.
Daily exercise time 30 – 45 minutes
In Summary – How much exercise do dogs need
If your particular dog’s breed is not listed or you have a mixed breed, it is best to base your dog’s exercise needs on which group they are the most similar with, energy-wise. For example, a Dalmatian would be similar to a sporting breed.
The easiest way to keep track of how much exercise and activity your dog is getting is by using a dog activity monitor. To learn more about this read “9 reasons to use a dog activity monitor”
If you feel that you just don’t have the time or energy to provide the recommended amount of exercise each day for your particular dog read “No time to exercise your dog” and “Dog exercise for Lazy owners” for some ideas and tips.
I hope that you have found this “How much exercise does my dog need calculator” guide useful in calculating how much exercise your dog needs everyday. Remember that every dog is an individual so use this as a general guideline and adjust it to suit your own dogs exercise requirements.
Suggested ways to provide how much exercise a dog needs everyday
The daily walk
The daily walk is essential for all dogs not only to release some pent-up energy. The walk allows your dog to stimulate the mind with the sights, sounds and smells they come across. A dog can not spend their entire life without living their own property. This can be psychologically stressful for a dog.
If your dog has good recall and comes on command, walks at the park off the leash are ideal. Alternatively, you can use a retractable leash to allow them more freedom while maintaining control.
You can add extra resistance to the walk by using a weighted vest or dog backpack. It is recommended that no more than 10% of their body weight be added. This is more than sufficient to tire them and strengthen their muscles without overworking them. Other ways of increasing the resistance on the walk are to walk on sand or include uphill sections in the walk.
A Flirt pole is like a giant cat tickler for dogs. It has a long handle with a bungy type rope with a lure or toy attached to the end. You simply move the lure along the ground around in circles or in different directions as your dog chases it. This activity is ideal for a high energy dog as it works the whole body and strengthens their muscles. Be sure they have a good “leave it” command and don’t allow them to destroy the toy. It is important that this be a controlled exercise.
Playing Fetch with your dog is another fantastic way to burn pent-up energy. Most dogs love a good game of fetch and can play this for hundreds of throws. A great alternative is to use an Automatic Ball Launcher so your dog can play Fetch by themselves. For more information check out “Automatic Ball Launchers for Dogs”
A Jolly Ball is a nearly indestructible ball for dogs that they push and chase around. They come in a variety of sizes, styles and are also available with a handle or rope attached for tug of war. This is particularly suited to herding dogs as this is a great activity that caters to their natural herding instincts. Also a very popular game for breeds such as Pitbulls and Staffies. Check out the video to see what great exercise and fun they are for dogs.
Most dogs can chase and catch a ball. But a Frisbee requires a little bit more skill, coordination, and timing. Many dogs look spectacular playing this due to their agility. Roll the Frisbee on the ground towards your dog. They will instinctually want to grab it in his mouth. Once you’ve accomplished this, try tossing it at a very low level first to your dog. If you feel like your dog is ready to go to the next level, toss the disc a little higher and further. Great energy burner and you may be amazed at your dog’s agility and acrobatic skill.
Weight pulling is an actual dog sport but you can incorporate this type of exercise into your dog’s muscle building and strength programme. The most important thing is that you use a proper weight pulling harness. These are designed to distribute the weight evenly over your dog’s body.
Start with a light amount of weight and have your dog drag the weight 10 to 20 metres. Give them a rest for 2 minutes and repeat. As with conditioning your dog to run, start off easy and gradually increase the amount of weight and number of repetitions over time.
Set up an agility or obstacle course in your backyard. You can use items you have around the home, build your own agility or you can get reasonably priced agility sets on Amazon. You can include tasks such as the weave, hurdle jumps, tunnels or jumping through hoops or a platform to jump on and stay.
A good energy burner if you have stairs in your home. Start at the bottom of the stairs and have your dog “stay”. Throw the ball to the top of the stairs and then say, “Go!” Let your dog dash up the stairs as fast as they can. Have them return down the stairs at a slower pace to avoid injury.
Walking up stairs or a hill strengthens the rear legs as the full body weight of your dog is on each leg as the step. As they descend the stairs they are using the opposing muscles for stability.
Running, biking or skating with your dog
The faster your dog is moving the more energy they will release. Try running, biking or skating with your dog to really get them moving. If your dog has good levels of stamina and can go for long distances, they can make great running partners. Just be sure to build up the distance and intensity of the activity over time to prevent causing injury to your dog. Read “Running with your dog” for more on this.
Many dogs are keen swimmers. Swimming is a great exercise for a dog as it burns energy and uses all the muscles groups, in particular, the front legs and shoulders. Ensure that you use a dog lifejacket if your dog is not a confident swimmer. It is also a low impact activity so doesn’t put a strain on the joints and tendons. It is a good exercise for dogs recovering from injury. See “What is Canine Hydrotherapy” to learn more.
Tug of War
A firm favorite of all strong dogs. Make them crouch and pull back to use extra energy. Ensure that this is a controlled game and they release when you want them to. Also, a great way to build muscle and strength.
A spring pole is simply a spring connected to a rope that hangs from a tree branch or beam with a lure or toy attached to the end. This allows your dog to play tug of war with him or herself even if you are not there. Popular with a lot of dogs that love a good game of tug of war.
Dog toys that move on their own
There are many dog toys available that shake, rattle, roll and move about on their own. This activity would be best as a supervised and control game as a dog like the German Shepherd could destroy these type of toys. See “Dog toys that move on their own” to learn more.
Self Playing Dog Toys
There are a variety of dog toys that your dog can use to play by themselves. These are great for times when your dog is home alone, you don’t have the time or you are otherwise occupied. This way your dog can still get some physical activity and mental stimulation without your direct involvement. See “Self Playing Dog Toys” for some ideas.
Play with other dogs
Provide the opportunity for your dog to play and socialize with other dogs. This is not only great to burn energy and stimulate their mind, but teaches them important social skills. Not all dogs are dog-friendly, so ensure yours is to prevent the possibility of fighting.
There are many dog sports that your dog would enjoy including agility or fly ball. Consider enrolling your dog in a local club. You can enter as a serious competitor or simply for fun.
Provide a digging area or pit
Many dogs love to dig. If you have problems with your dog digging where they shouldn’t, giving them activities that cater to their natural digging instinct will help to eliminate the problem behavior. Provide an area or digging box for them so they can dig to their heart’s content. Just be aware that if the weather is warm and you use sand, it may get hot. You can wet it down with the hose if it is. See “Dog Toys for Diggers” for more ideas on catering to a dog’s natural digging instinct.
Mental stimulation and enrichment.
All dogs need an outlet for their minds. If they are not provided the opportunity to challenge their minds they will come up with their own ways to achieve this. This usually manifests itself in bad behavior such as excessive barking, digging, escaping and other destructive behaviors. Read “Mental stimulation and mind enrichment for dogs” to learn about the 6 types or categories of mind stimulation a mental enrichment and some great ideas to provide this.
Some ways to provide mental stimulation and enrichment include;
Teaching new commands and tricks is also excellent to provide mental enrichment. A popular game that involves learning is to teach them the names of their toys. Dogs can learn hundreds of words and names.
Puzzle toys are ideal for dogs that like to challenge their minds and test their problem-solving skills. With dogs that are highly intelligent try to find puzzle toys that are a bit more challenging as they tend to work these out quite quickly. Check out “Top 7 puzzle toys for dogs” for my top picks.
In addition to puzzle toys, Kongs for dogs are another great way to get your German Shepherd to solve a problem and challenge the mind. Read “How to use a Kong for dogs“.
Scenting and nose games
Dogs have a keen and powerful nose. Playing scenting and nose games helps to provide mental stimulation. Read “12 Scenting and nose games for dogs” for some ideas.
Provide your dog with good strong chew toys. Chewing is a great way to occupy them. In addition, chewing releases endorphins and helps to relax a dog. Many dogs hold stress in the jaw.
For more on the benefits of chewing and the best chew toys click here.
For even more ideas to provide daily exercise for your dog check out “50 Boredom Busters and Games for dogs”