How often do dogs need to be walked?
All dogs need to move around! It’s just one of the hard facts of responsible dog ownership. While all dogs need some time outside to stretch their legs and do their business, different dogs have different exercise demands.
A variety of factors influence a dog’s physical needs. Between age, breed, and size, it’s sometimes difficult to determine how often and how long walks should be. Here’s some specific advice for coming to those conclusions.
Different dog breeds need different amounts of exercise and time outside.
Some dogs, like retired racing greyhounds, are couch potatoes. They’ll live happily with a couple of pee breaks and a short walk a day. Other dogs, like Huskies, need to move a lot. A happy and mentally healthy lifestyle for active breeds may require 2 or more hours of outside time a day. If you know your dog’s breed, take the time to read about their eccentricities and typical behaviors, and accommodate whenever possible!
A dog’s age affects their exercise needs.
Older dogs may move less readily. Once a pet reaches 7 or 8 years old, consult a vet to determine their updated exercise schedule.
Adult dogs in good physical shape should be exercised as much as recommended for their breed. Consult breed-specific information to determine the exact needs of your pet.
Puppies require plenty of exercise, but given a fragile physical state, exercise should be capped to preserve their health and safety. The Kennel Club sets this cap at 5 minutes for every month of age. In other words, a four month old puppy should be limited to 20 minutes of exercise per session. The amount of sessions per day is up to you and your dog. Pay attention to their energy level, and if they are bouncing off the walls, an exercise session may be in order!
Size is a factor in your dog’s activity level.
While your dog’s breed is the most accurate tell of their exercise needs, there are rules of thumb for dogs of different sizes:
- Very small dogs (Chihuahuas, French Bulldogs) and very large dogs (Great Danes, Mastiffs) are
usually couch potatoes.
- Flat-nosed dogs (bulldogs, pugs) have trouble breathing, and do worse with long exercise
sessions because of this!
- Mid-sized dogs (hounds, retrievers) usually require the most exercise, but again, research the
specific breed before creating a walk schedule.
Notes on safe walks
While it is important to get a dog outside, an unsafe walk is worse than no walk at all! Make sure to bring water along for long walks or walks on hot days. If weather is cold, wet, or both, keep your dog inside or provide them with proper weather coverage. If your dog is sick, or seems hesitant to continue on a walk, take it seriously and give them some rest!
Exercise is healthy for a dog’s body and mind. Use this information as a springboard and give your dog the active time they need:
|Type of Dog||Examples||Amount of Exercise/Day|
|Large||Mastiff, Great Dane||20-60 Minutes|
|Mid-Sized||Labs, Hounds||60-90 Minutes|
|Flat-Nosed||Huskies, Shepherds||90-120 Minutes|
|Elderly||7+ Years||Consult Vet|
|Young||Less than 1 Year||As needed, but no more than 5 minutes per month of age, per session|