How Much Exercise Does Your Dog Need?
17 April, 2012

My friend, Tracy, likes to take her dogs on long walks and hikes with her.  While they love the exercise, she said they were worn out after a few days in the mountains.  In fact, after all the hiking, they were so exhausted that she was giving them a break and taking them only on short walks.   It got me thinking, how much exercise does your dog need?

As it turns out, not all dogs require the same amount of exercise. Exercise needs have very little to do with size. Instead breed tends to count the most. For example Jack Russell Terriers and Shelties often begin to misbehave when given too few walks or hikes. On the other hand, a mastiff, and many other large dogs may be happy with a couple of daily walks in the park or a short game of Frisbee.

Surprisingly, little dogs require more exercise than larger dogs.  And most of their exercise needs can be easily satisfied in an apartment or back yard. If your small dog has enough toys, or a dog or cat companion, he or she can generally meet all of his exercise needs. However, try to walk your dog on a daily basis too; dogs love to go outside and a walk is healthy for both the dog and its owner.

Mid-size breeds can also vary in their need for exercise. Dogs that are natural hunters or herders require more exercise. Beagles, hounds, border collies, Alaskan sled dogs, and Australian shepherds tend to be restless if cooped up. They need time to run around, catch and chase things, and to walk or jog.

Since many dogs are mixed breeds, it can be hard to know how much exercise this type of dog requires. If you get a mixed breed dog, you can watch his or her behavior. If your dog enjoys relaxing in the sun most of the day, he or she probably does not need as much exercise. On the other hand, if your dog seems restless and wanders around the house, he or she needs more exercise.   And, of course, older dogs tend to need less daily exercise than do younger dogs.
Most dogs also require mental exercise. Dogs, like people, can get bored. Certain dogs get bored enough to become distracted and destroy your plants or eat your shoes!  Toys that require some work or effort to reap the rewards are a great way to challenge your dog mentally. Further, daily interaction with your dog will help satisfy some of his or her mental exercise needs.
I always say that dogs, like people, can only benefit from daily exercise.  But, some dogs (like some people) can be happy and healthy with a lesser amount of exercise.  Look to your dog for signs as to whether he is satisfied with the exercise that you are giving him or her.   But do remember that the more your dogs exercise during the day, the better they (and you) will sleep through the night.

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