Pugs do not require a great deal of exercise and are exercise intolerant to some degree. However, they do need more than you would think.
Pug health issues and limitations
To understand your Pugs exercise needs and requirements it is important to know a little about them and their limitations. Pugs are not the most active dogs in the world. On a scale of 1 to 10, they would be a 2 where 1 is least active. This is one of the reasons why Pugs are susceptible to obesity.
They have a hard time breathing because of their short nose and compromised air passages. Any exercise that increases the demand for oxygen should not be overdone since they will struggle to get sufficient air to meet the demands being placed on them.
They are also very susceptible to heat so avoid exercising when the temperature is too hot or humid. Any signs of exhaustion are a cue to stop the exercise and allow them to cool off. Read “Exercising a dog in hot weather” and also “How to keep a dog cool in hot weather” for helpful advise.
Some Pugs love to swim but they are not good swimmers and will have a hard time staying afloat. Swimming is also a very strenuous activity so if you do take your Pug swimming keep it to short bursts with lots of rest between. Dogs can still overheat, even in the water.
Why exercise is important for Pugs
Pugs would rather lay around with the occasional play with their owners. This is not because they are lazy, but rather because of their exercise intolerance due to the fact that they tire easily. However, it is important that they do get exercise due to some common health problems with the breed and the fact that they are prone to obesity.
Keep exercise fun and not too strenuous as they may become reluctant to do it.
Exercise is important for a Pug because it helps strengthen their circulatory and respiratory system, keeps their joints flexible and muscles toned, and helps improve their sleep and digestion. It is also helpful to manage their weight along with a healthy diet.
Exercise for Pugs should be mild and not too physically demanding.
Their exercise needs can be broken down into three groups
- 1. a daily walk
- 2. free play and toys
- 3. mental stimulation
We will look at each of these three categories along with suggested activities and type of exercise you can incorporate into their daily routine.
Pug walking distance
A Pug requires a daily walk of between 20 – 25 minutes at a comfortable pace for them. This can be a walk on a leash around the block or can be on leash exploring at the local park.
The daily walk is not only a good way to release some pent up energy, but is also a good opportunity for training and is great for building your bond with each other. It also provides mental stimulation by way of the sights, sounds and smells they come across and social interaction with other dogs you meet along the way.
A short daily walk is more beneficial that nothing all week with a long walk at the weekend. If you prefer you can take your Pug for two shorter walks instead.
Obviously, every dog is an individual, even of the same breed.
By observing your Pug you can assess how long of a walk they need. If they are panting excessively or falling behind they have probably had enough. It is probably a good idea to end the walk. If they are happily trotting along you can choose to walk a bit further.
Pug over exercised symptoms
Due to how easily a Pug can overheat it is important to not overdo the walk, especially in warmer weather. Walk them a little earlier in the morning, and later in the evening.
Always keep a close eye on your Pug during walks to ensure they are breathing easily and are not getting overheated. Pugs will rarely give up on a walk and will struggle to keep up with you.
Get them used to longer walks gradually, building up their stamina. You can buy travel water bowls and bottles so you always have water available for them.
Read “Over exercised dog symptoms” to learn about the signs and symptoms to be aware of to prevent overheating or even heat stroke or exhaustion.
Free play and toys
The Pug is a playful little dog. They enjoy a good game with people, other dogs and often by themselves. Provide the opportunity for them to play whenever possible. This will help burn energy, stimulate their mind and strengthen their bond with you. Some suggestions for free play include;
The Pug is most cases is what we term a light or moderate chewer. This means they tend not to be overly destructive with their toys. Dogs like this quite often favor Plush Toys. To learn more about the benefits and uses of your dog’s toys read “Not all dog toys are created equal”
Play with other dogs
Provide the opportunity for your Pug to play with other dogs. This is not only great to burn energy and stimulate their mind, but teaches them important social skills.
There are countless fun games that you can play with your dog. Check out “47 Boredom Busters and games for dogs” for ideas.
Dog toys that move on their own
There are many dog toys available that shake, rattle, roll and move on their own. These are fantastic for encouraging your Pug to play and get moving. 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 a game of fetch with their favorite toys. An alternative to fetch if you find that your pug is reluctant to play is to attach a toy to a stick and run in front of your pug. The move will encourage them to run after you for a short while.
Make sure you allow your Pug to catch the toy once every 10 to 20 seconds depending on their health. Pugs are not very energetic and they cannot run for long periods of time. This is why it is important to perform such an exercise with breaks in between them.
Your Pug will get some mental stimulation and enrichment from their daily walk and time spent with free play. However, it is a good idea to provide other activities that stimulate the mind. Mental exercise can burn as much energy as physical exercise.
Many dog behavior problems are the direct result of boredom. Read “Mental enrichment and mind stimulation for dogs” to learn about the six categories of enrichment for dogs.
Some ideas to provide mental stimulation include;
Puzzle toys are a great way to test your dog’s intelligence and improve their problem-solving skills. Check out “Top 7 puzzle toys for dogs” for my top picks.
Kong toys which you stuff with food and treats work in much the same way. Read “How to use a Kong for dogs”.
Puzzle toys are great for times when your dog is home alone. If your dog is home alone while you are at work or out you may find some helpful information at “Leaving a dog alone while at work”
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.
Chewing is a natural instinct for dogs and has many benefits including keeping them busy and occupying and stimulating their minds. To learn more about the benefits of and the best chew toys see here.
Turn mealtimes into an opportunity for your Pug 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 much should you exercise a Pug puppy
The exercise suggestion above relates to a healthy adult Pug. 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. 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 Pug 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 Pug puppy is around 2 minutes for every month of age. So, for example for a 4-month-old puppy, a walk of 8 minutes is enough. Monitor you Pug 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 puppy exercise read “How to exercise a puppy”
How much exercise does an older Pug 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.
Pugs are also very prone to hip dysplasia so also read “How to exercise a dog with hip dysplasia” for suggestions.
So, how much exercise does a Pug need
Although Pugs don’t need a lot of exercise they need more than you may think. This is because they can be prone to obesity and other health issues such as hip dysplasia and luxating patella which is a slippage of the kneecap.
Exercise helps a Pug maintain muscle tone which helps maintain good posture and allows the muscles surrounding the hips and knees to be strong and supportive.
Exercise will also allow a release of pent-up energy, which in turn gives you a more well-behaved dog. Boredom is one of the major causes of behavior problems in dogs.
Most of all, keep exercise fun and not too strenuous as this may make them reluctant to do it.