Many people ask how long should I walk my dog each day? The answer is that it depends on a number of factors. Obviously, the type or breed of dog will make a difference. In addition, age, weight and overall health and fitness level of the dog must be taken into account.
The importance of walking your dog
The daily walk is far more to a dog than just an opportunity to get some exercise. It is important for the dog to leave their own property to explore and take in the sights, sounds, and smells. This provides mental stimulation for your dog. Mental enrichment and mind stimulation can burn as much energy as physical activity and has psychological benefits for your dog. It also provides a training opportunity and helps to build a strong bond with your dog.
Even if you have a large backyard this is not exercise for a dog. Dogs will generally not exercise themselves. This is true even if you have more than one dog. The majority of the time they will just lay around.
There is also the social interaction aspect of taking your dog for a walk. While out walking you are most likely going to meet other dogs. This is a great way for your dog to learn the correct ways of social interaction and communication with new dogs. It also helps your dog to build confidence. Well socialized dogs still enjoy playing with other dogs, but they will know when to stop.
How far should I walk my puppy
Puppies are different to adult dogs in that at the end of their long bones they have what are called growth plates. These contain rapidly dividing cells that allow the bone to grow until they reach puberty. At that time the bone ends calcify becoming a stable inactive part of the bone. Until the growth plate close they are vulnerable and prone to injury. In addition, their bone density is not fully developed and muscles and tendons are still growing. It is important to not over exercise a puppy for the above reasons.
As your puppy starts to get older you can take them for short informal walks allowing them to sniff and explore and to get used to being on a leash. The general rule of thumb for the length of these walks is 5 minutes for every month of age ie. up to 20 minutes for a four-month-old puppy.
Monitor your puppy on the walk and end the walk if they show signs of overtiring such as lagging behind, lying down or panting. Puppies under three months probably haven’t had all their vaccinations so shouldn’t be walked in public. Check with your vet when it is alright for them venture out to the park or street.
For more on this read “How to exercise a puppy”
How far should I walk my small dog
This again depends on the factors such as breed, age, and overall health. In general, for most small breeds 20 – 30 minutes daily is sufficient with other play and mentally stimulating activities added in to complete their exercise needs. The main exception would be the small terrier breeds which tend to be very high energy and highly intelligent. As a result, they would generally need a least a 30 minutes walk daily with lots of other activity and mental challenge thrown in.
You may also wish to read “How to tire a hyper high energy dog” and “mental enrichment and mind stimulation” for more information.
How far should I walk my dog each day – other breeds
For a guideline of how much exercise your particular dog requires read “How much exercise does my dog need calculator“. It is important to get the balance right when it comes to providing exercise for your dog. Insufficient exercise will result in a dog that has pent-up energy. This can cause a dog to be bored and frustrated. If you don’t provide a means for them to release this pent up energy they will find a way themselves. This often can be in ways that are destructive or even dangerous for them.
At the other end of the scale, it is possible to over-exercise a dog. This can result in injury and in extreme cases death. Take note of signs your dog is giving. If they are falling behind, panting excessively or simply lay down end the session. For more on this read “over exercised dog symptoms” to avoid this.
Also, for dogs that may have health-related issues exercise is still important. Dogs with arthritis or hip dysplasia it is important to keep moving to help keep the muscles strong and mobile. In addition, weight management is important to lessen the strain on the joints. Read “Exercise for an arthritic dog” and “Exercise for dogs with hip dysplasia” for more on this.
The daily walk is an important part of your dog’s exercise needs, both physically and psychologically. It allows them the opportunity to leave their own property and explore. It is also a great way to improve their social interaction skills, build confidence and strengthen their bond with you. The walk can also be a great training opportunity for your dog.
Take into account your dogs breed, age, and overall health when deciding how far and for how long to walk them. See the “How much exercise does my dog need calculator” for more details.
You may also be interested in other articles in the age/breed/size category. There are many articles on different breeds, and advice for young and old dogs exercise needs.
Also, the health/fitness category has great advice for exercising dogs with health-related issues and for dogs with very high energy.
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