The American Bulldog also referred to as an Ambull, is a working and utility breed. They are generally a friendly and affectionate family dog. Due to their working background providing sufficient exercise to tire and occupy them is important.
How much exercise does an American Bulldog need
The American Bulldog is a strong, high energy athletic breed. They require between 1 to 2 hours of exercise and activity daily to maintain good health and to prevent boredom and too much pent up energy.
Boredom and too much energy are one of the main causes of behavior issues in dogs. This can include destructive behavior, nuisance barking, digging and even escaping.
The American Bulldog is also an intelligent breed. Therefore, it is important to provide mental stimulation and challenges to prevent boredom.
This exercise requirement is for a healthy adult American Bulldog. The exercise needs of an American Bulldog puppy will be different due to their growing and developing bodies. For more information on puppy exercise, see the bottom of this article.
For an older Ambull, exercise is still crucial to maintain good health and keep muscles and joints functioning well. However, the volume of exercise becomes a balancing act between enough to keep their joints mobile and manage weight, but too much can make them sore. See the bottom of the article for more on exercising a senior American Bulldog.
There are three main types of exercise and activity you must provide your American Bulldog every day.
- 1. Daily walk
- 2. Purposeful High-Intensity Activity (see American Bulldog exercise ideas below)
- 3. Mental stimulation
Over exercised dog symptoms
The American Bulldog can go hard and keep going, often not knowing when to stop. Due to their shorter muzzle and windpipe, they do have a propensity for breathing problems. This also makes them prone to overheating or even heat stroke.
With any dog, it is possible to over-exercise them, especially in hot weather. It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of a dog that has overdone it. Read “Overexercised dog symptoms” and “Dog exercise in hot weather” to learn more.
American Bulldog walking time
The daily walk is essential for an American Bulldog not only to release some pent-up energy. The walk allows your Ambull to stimulate the mind with the sights, sounds and smells they come across.
The length of the walk is only limited by your time and energy as an American Bulldog can go for long distances. Ideally, the minimum should be 30 to 45 minutes daily.
This can be just once a day, or two walks a day would be better if your schedule allows. This should be at a moderate pace rather than a high-intensity workout to avoid over-exercise.
Dogs also like routine, so try to schedule the walk for around the same time each day. Daily walks are much better than nothing all week and a big walk at the weekend.
If your American Bulldog has good recall and comes on command, walks at the park off the leash are ideal. Alternatively, you can use a retractable leash or long line to allow them more freedom while maintaining control. In general, American Bulldogs are obedient and usually have good recall if trained.
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.
American Bulldog Exercise Ideas
In addition to the daily walk, it is important to provide other purposeful activity to further tire and occupy them. This can include short higher intensity activities or muscle building and strength exercises.
Toys are a great way to provide exercise for your American Bulldog. For the best exercise toys for dogs see here.
These are some of the recommended activities and exercise ideas to play with your American Bulldog.
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 an American Bulldog as it works the whole body and strengthens their muscles. It also burns energy and tires them quickly. Be sure they are warmed up first and have a good “leave it” command and don’t allow them to destroy the toy. It is important that this be a controlled exercise. For a full guide to flirt pole exercise for dogs see here.
View Flirt Poles on Amazon
Playing Fetch with your Ambull is another fantastic way to burn pent-up energy. American Bulldogs are generally ball or toy crazy 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. As the Ambull is smart and highly trainable as long as you focus their attention they learn to use this quickly. For more information check out “Automatic Ball Launchers for Dogs”
Most dogs can chase and catch a ball. But a Frisbee requires a little bit more skill, coordination, and timing. American Bulldogs look spectacular playing this due to their agility and power.
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.
A Jolly Ball is a nearly indestructible ball for dogs that they push and chase around. As the Jolly ball is impossible to bite they have to push it around.
They come in a variety of sizes, styles and are also available with a handle or rope attached for tug of war. With this type of Jolly Ball they can pick it up. You can put water in the ball to make it heavier making it a good strengthening exercise.
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.
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 American Bulldog could destroy these type of toys. See “Dog toys that move on their own” to learn more.
There are countless more activities you can do with your American Bulldog to burn pent-up energy quickly and condition their muscles. For more ideas, check out “How to tire a hyper high energy dog” and “Tire a dog quickly”. You may also like “50 Boredom Busters and games for dogs”.
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;
Puzzle toys are ideal for dogs like an American Bulldogto challenge their minds and test their problem-solving skills. Due to their high intelligence, try to find puzzle toys that are a bit more challenging as they tend to work these out quite quickly. Check out “Top puzzle toys for dogs” for my top picks.
.In addition to puzzle toys, Kongs for dogs are another great way to get your American Bulldog to solve a problem and challenge the mind. Read “How to use a Kong for dogs“.
Scenting and nose games
American Bulldogs can have a keen nose. Playing scenting and nose games helps to provide mental stimulation. Read “12 Scenting and nose games for dogs” for some ideas.
Provide your American Bulldog 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.
American Bulldogs are a power chewer. For the best chew toys for aggressive chewers see here.
Teaching new commands and tricks is also excellent to provide mental enrichment. American Bulldogs are smart and keen to please and easy to train.
A popular game that involves learning is to teach them the names of their toys. Dogs can learn hundreds of words and names.
Turn mealtimes into an opportunity for your American Bulldog to get a mental challenge and enrichment. Instead of feeding them from a bowl, give them activities that require them to work for their food. To learn more about feeding enrichment for dogs see here.
Enrich their environment
Environmental enrichment is the process of making a dog’s living space more engaging and interesting. To learn more about environmental enrichment for dogs see here.
How to exercise an American Bulldog puppy
The exercise suggestions above relate to a healthy adult American Bulldog. The exercise needs of a puppy are quite different. With puppies, their bones, muscle, and joints are still growing and developing.
Overly strenuous walks are not necessary and in fact, could possibly cause harm. An activity that is high impact on the joints should also be avoided.
The best exercise for a young puppy is free play with age-appropriate toys.
Socializing with other puppies or friendly adult dogs is a great way to burn some of that puppy energy along with teaching them the social skills they need.
As your Ambull puppy gets older you can take them for short informal walks allowing them to sniff and explore and get used to being on a leash. 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 to venture out to the park or street.
The general rule of thumb for walking a puppy is around 5 minutes for every month of age. For example, for a 4-month-old puppy, a walk of 15 minutes to 20 minutes is enough. Monitor your American Bulldog puppy on the walk for signs such as lagging behind, lying down or panting. End the walk if they seem too tired.
Mental stimulation is important for puppies and can tire them just as much as physical activity. For more on mental stimulation for puppies see here.
For more on exercise for your puppy read “How to exercise your puppy”
How much exercise does an older American Bulldog need
As a dog gets older they become less active and have lower energy levels. However, it is still important that they remain reasonably active to keep their joints and muscles mobile and to manage their weight. Read ” Dog exercise for a senior dog” to learn more.
Many dogs develop arthritis as they age. Exercise for them becomes a balancing act. It is important to keep their joints mobile and manage weight, but too much can make them sore. Read “How to exercise an arthritic dog” to learn more.
American Bulldogs are also a breed that is prone to hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is hereditary and common among many large breed dogs but often doesn’t show itself until they are older. Read “Exercise for a dog with hip dysplasia” to learn more.
Summary – American Bulldog Exercise Requirements
The American Bulldog is a strong and high energy dog that requires between 1 to 2 hours of exercise a day. This should include a daily walk at a moderate pace or off-leash for at least 30 to 45 minutes.
In addition, they need other purposeful high-intensity activity and play to tone their muscles and tire them further.
The American Bulldog is also an intelligent dog that requires mental stimulation and enrichment to challenge their minds. Mental exercise can tire a dog as much as physical activity.
Let us know in the comments how much and what type of exercise your American Bulldog gets daily.