Exercise and playtime are critical to a dog's physical and mental health and wellbeing. It is important to provide daily exercise based on your dog's age, breed, and underlying health issues. There are different ways to exercise your dog and the best way is to do something that both you and your dog enjoy. We will review why exercise is important and offer some ideas on how to exercise your dog.
Why Exercise is Important for Dogs
Exercise has benefits for both us and our canine companions. Some of the benefits include:
- Improved weight control. Dogs that exercise burn more calories and have better weight control.
- Less behavioral issues. Exercise is a great way to release pent-up energy and tension that can lead to behavioral problems. In addition, it can be fun! Dogs that get plenty of exercise have fewer behavioral issues including digging, excessive barking, chewing, tail chasing, lick granulomas, urine marking, and eating inappropriate objects.
- Improved mood. Mood-stabilizing chemicals called serotonin are released in the brain with exercise. Serotonin makes dogs feel content and “happy”.
- Improved muscle development. Exercise leads to increased muscle development, strength, and endurance.
- Improved housetraining. Puppies and dogs that exercise are often stimulated to urinate and/or defecate outside on a more regular basis. Exercise can improve your ability to housetrain your puppy.
How Much Exercise is Enough Exercise for Dogs?
Most young healthy dogs need about 30 minutes of exercise twice daily. Some dogs need more while others need less. For example, a 1-year-old Labrador retriever may just get started with 30 minutes while a small breed dog such as a miniature poodle or dachshund may have had enough after 10 minutes or less. There are also some breed considerations. Dogs with long noses and good airflow can generally tolerate more exercise than brachycephalic breeds such as bulldogs and pugs.
How do you know enough is enough? Your dog should feel a bit tired and content. Be careful during extreme weather events not to over-exercise your dog (see more below underdog exercise precautions).
Dog Exercise Precautions
Dogs with underlying health issues such as heart or lung disease, musculoskeletal problems, neurologic problems, and/or seniors may need much less exercise or only particular exercises. Check with your veterinarian for the specific recommendations based on your dog's age, weight, and underlying health problems.
Extremes in temperature can be dangerous to dogs. High temperatures and high humidity can lead to life-threatening heatstroke. Learn more about Heat Stroke in Dogs. The cold and wind can also be dangers causing Frostbite in dogs.
If your dog ever collapses, or appears weak or pale, stop your exercise immediately. If the weather and climate is hot, take your dog's temperature and begin cooling measures. Cooling measures include wetting your dog with water and call your veterinarian immediately.
Benefits of a Worn Out/Tired Dog
The biggest benefit of providing your dog with exercise is that dogs that exercise sleep better, are healthier, more content and happier. Simply put, a tired dog is… a happy dog.
Best Exercises You Can Do With Your Dog
The very best exercise for your dog is one that you enjoy doing together. You can provide exercise by doing things together or determine what kind of play your dog likes best. For example, some dogs love to fetch while others like to run.
Exercise can also be playtime. Provide toys and play that suits your dog's personality. This can differ from dog to dog but can be squeaky toys, fetch toys, chew toys, or puzzles. Learn more about Dog Toys: How to Figure Out What Your Dog Likes Best.
Here are some exercises you can do with your dog:
- Biking - If you are a biker, you can take your dog with you. Here are some great tips on how Dogs Make Good Bicycling Partners.
- Boating - If you are lucky enough to have a boat then boating with dogs can be a blast and swimming is great exercise. Not all dogs enjoy swimming or are good swimmers. Get tips in this article - Boating with Dogs. You can also take your dog swimming or even swim with your dog.
- Camping - Camping is fun and a great way to spend time with your dog. Camping can be combined with walking, hiking, running, and fetch time. Here are some tips about Going Camping with Your Dog.
- Hiking - Taking a hike with your dog is a great way to get exercise. Learn more about Hiking with Your Dog.
- Playtime - It is fun to watch dogs play. If your dog catches balls or Frisbee this can be as much fun for you as it is for him.
- Running or Jogging- Some dogs love to run with you as you exercise. This is a great way for dogs to release some pent up energy. Learn more about Running and Jogging with Your Dog.
- Swimming - Some dogs love to swim and it is possible to swim with your dog. There are some important safety tips for swimming with dogs. Learn more in this article - What You Should Know About Swimming with Dogs.
- Walking - Walking is an amazing way to get exercise and spend time with your dog. It is something you can do all year. It is important to walk when it is not too hot such as earlier in the day or later in the evening. Get some great walking tips with hits article The Pet Owner's Guide to Walking a Dog.
We hope these tips give you some ideas on how to spend time and exercise with your dog.