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How much exercise does my dog need?

How Much Exercise Do Dogs Need?

One of the greatest and most admirable qualities of dogs is that it really is the little things that make them happy. Spending time with you on even a short walk is sure to get their tail wagging.

But even though a short walk might be enough to keep them happy, is it enough to keep them healthy? Every dog is different, but one thing is the same: Dogs need ample amounts of daily exercise to stay healthy and live a long life. 

So ask yourself: How often do you walk your dog? Here’s some guidance on how to keep your dog both happy and healthy.

Why do dogs need to exercise?

Just like humans, dogs need their fair share of exercise to both stay mentally stimulated and physically fit. That can come in the form of a walk around the block, an obstacle course set up in the yard, or a game of fetch. Most dogs don’t get enough daily exercise, which can have both short- and long-term health effects. In fact, 2 in 3 dogs in the U.S. are considered to be overweight!

The level of daily activity a dog needs varies on their breed, size, and other factors, but in the end the reasons for exercising your dog come down to these positive results.

Physical Health

To no one’s surprise, keeping your dog exercised is key to ensuring they stay in shape! This means a healthy weight, which lowers the likelihood of developing issues like obesity and joint pain, toned muscles, and a healthy metabolism.

Mental Stimulation

Did you know that getting physical exercise also helps stimulate them mentally? A well-exercised pup means a content pup: better mental health, less stress and anxiety, and less misbehaving.

Strike a Balance 

Remember: Every dog is different! It’s not as simple as asking, “how long should I walk my dog?” Both a lack of adequate exercise and an overabundance of physical activity can lead to health issues and/or bad habits. Experiment to figure out what’s best for you and your pup.

How much exercise does a puppy need?

As a dog person, you’ve likely heard the term “puppy energy.” It’s true that puppies have their own exercise needs. They’re excited and new to the world, and want to explore everything all at once! What puppies don’t know about themselves, though, is that while their energy to life is limitless, their actual stamina isn’t.

Keep them physically exercised and mentally stimulated with these tips:

  • Frequent, shorter play sessions followed up with a good nap throughout the day help puppies get out their energy without overdoing it.
  • Let ‘em rest. If your puppy is sleeping, don’t wake them for a play session or a walk. The restful moments are important for their physical and mental development.
  • Don’t do too much, too soon. Much like human babies, a puppy’s bones, joints, and muscles are still growing and changing. Try not to take them on adventures that are too physically strenuous until their bodies are ready for it.
  • Keep their immune systems in mind. As a puppy parent, you’re well aware of the importance of canine vaccinations. Follow your vet’s guidance on when it’s safe for you to bring them outside for their exercise.
  • Know thy breed. Do pomeranians need as much physical activity as border collies? Typically not! Research your dog’s breed and what is a normal amount of exercise for them.
  • Remember, you’re the boss! While training your young pup, it’s important to be the one to initiate play time and walks instead of following their lead.
  • Choose the right kibble to fuel your puppy’s muscle growth and brain development, like our puppy recipe made specifically to support their healthy growth!

How much exercise does an adult dog need?

In general, 30 minutes is the minimum amount of physical activity dogs should get in a day. Once a dog reaches adulthood, however, their breed plays a big role in how much exercise they need. Here are some general guidelines for various types of breeds:

  • Flat-faced breeds (like pugs and shih tzus): Because of their breathing challenges, brachycephalic breeds can handle less exercise than others. Easy walks around the neighborhood and a good play session can be enough to tire them out for the day. But be sure to keep physical activity to a minimum in hot weather since they’ll have more difficulty breathing.
  • Small breeds (like toy breeds): For smaller breeds, 30-60 minutes of varied physical activity each day might be enough.
  • Large breeds (like labradors and German shepherds): Hiking, fetch, running, a long walk. You might find yourself doing a bunch of different things during the week to keep your large breed well exercised. Keep in mind that larger breeds are more prone to joint and hip issues as they get older, so try to choose activities that aren’t straining in those areas. Swimming is a great option!

How much exercise does a senior dog need?

Your pup may slow down as they get older, but that definitely isn’t a reason to set their physical activity needs aside! They still need consistent exercise to stay healthy for their entire lives.

If your dog can’t handle too much at once, take a lesson out of the puppy book and break up activity into shorter bursts. And if you need to consider injuries or general joint issues, choose lower impact activities, like swimming and walking, over running or strenuous hikes.

Another great option for senior dogs is to add mental enrichment activities to their routine, so even if they can't be as active as before, they can still enjoy exercising their brains and natural instincts with things like snuffle mats and treat puzzles.

What are the best ways to make sure they’re getting enough exercise?

It’s all about variety! Switching up your dog’s exercise regime will not only keep them physically strong, but mentally strong too. Try fetch one day and agility the next, or even just walk a different route than you normally do. 

The change in surroundings, smells, and the challenge to keep up with a new activity will fulfill their needs even more than sticking with the same walk around the block.  Daily mental stimulation doesn’t only fight boredom, but also keeps the brain young by preventing the decline in cognitive abilities, like memory loss, confusion, and lack of awareness.

Meeting up with other dog’s is also a great way to change up your routine! Let them tire each other out, while also working on your dog’s socialization skills.

Try out an activity tracker

Keep in mind that your dog’s exercise needs will vary based on their age, breed, and any health concerns that they might be dealing with.

Using an activity tracking like Fi is a great way to get detailed insights on your dog’s daily activity and can help you adjust your goals accordingly. In the Fi app, you can set goals, increase them or decrease them as you see fit, and track their progress through the day, week, and month!

Your dog also needs proper nutrition to fuel all of their adventures, so feeding them high quality food, like Jinx, is a great way to ensure they’re getting the nutrients they need to keep up.

How many steps is enough?

The fact is most dogs in the U.S. aren’t getting enough physical activity. So how do you know what the right amount is for your pup? A good benchmark is to understand how much exercise their breed needs.

Let’s take a look at the daily average step count of the top 10 breeds in the U.S. according to Fi’s data:

  • Labrador Retriever: 15.2K
  • German Shepherd: 16.6K
  • Siberian Husky: 13.9K
  • Golden Retriever: 14.6K
  • Australian Shepherd: 17.5K
  • Goldendoodle: 17.6K
  • American Pit Bull Terrier: 14.1K
  • Border Collie: 17.3K
  • Beagle: 16.8K
  • Australian Cattle Dog: 17.8K

If you don’t have a dog activity tracker yet, it might be a little tough for you to determine just how long of a walk you’d need to go on with your dog for them to meet this average, but for reference, Fi dog Pharrell the Border Collie went on a 2.5 mile walk the other day and racked up 14,000 steps. 

If your dog is bigger or smaller, this may affect how much distance they’re able to cover in a single step, but hopefully this is a good starting point! It’s also important to remember that if you have a short-legged dog like a Corgi or Dachshund, they’ll cover a lot less ground per step. 

So this is the average amount of daily exercise for some of the most popular breeds in America, but are these dogs actually getting the right amount of exercise every single day? Fi’s data tells us… maybe not! 

Among all of these breeds, they’re only meeting their step goals 51% of the time. That’s like getting to the park, only to turn right around and head home - the fun is just beginning and there are so many more zoomies to be released! 

Of the breeds listed above, Beagles meet their step goals the most - on average, 66% of the time. Huskies on the other hand, are at the bottom of the list, meeting their goals only 40% of the time.  

Something that most dog owners don’t realize is that one walk around the block isn’t cutting it for their dogs physical or mental health like they think it is. Many of the most popular breeds in the US are the ones that require the most activity, so a good rule of thumb is to get in 2 decent walks per day, and maybe even a game of fetch if you have the time.

Our Final [Furry] Thoughts

Inspired to get out and start walking yet? You should be! Instead of asking, “how often should I walk my dog?” try asking “what else can I do to help my dog live their best life?” Being conscious of your dog’s daily activity is not only great for them, but it’s great for your well-being as well! 

It’s a proven fact that dog’s make our lives better, and one of those ways is keeping us active. So leash up, get outside, and reach those step goals, pups!

And after they’ve had their exercise, make sure to choose kibble that fuels healthy muscles and low-calorie training treats to perfect their leash manners.


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