There is no simple answer to the question of how much exercise a dog needs to maintain his physical and mental health, but there are several factors that can help come up with an exercise plan for each pet.
Exercising with a dog seems to be a simple task, it is supposed to be enough to walk it two or three times a day. However, each dog is wonderfully unique across a wide range of variables. And as such, the best exercise plan will take into account his age, his race and his health status.
The amount of exercise a dog needs and the types of activities he will enjoy depends on four main factors: his age, breed, health status, and personality.
Puppies will likely need several 10- to 15-minute bouts of activity throughout the day. However, repetitive high-impact exercise is not recommended for young dogs before their bones and joints are fully developed, which is between 12 and 24 months, depending on the breed.
In general, as puppies get older, they need longer times of activity, but the frequency decreases. Canine adolescence, which spans between 1 and 3 years of age, is when most dogs experience their greatest exercise needs, but this can obviously vary significantly by breed.
After this peak in adolescence, the dog’s exercise needs will slowly decline, but it is still important that adult dogs and even older dogs receive adequate mental and physical stimulation. Low-impact exercise, like daily walks around the neighborhood, is a great way to help keep a senior dog’s brain and body active and healthy.
Researching and understanding a dog’s specific breed and corresponding traits is the best way to ensure that inherent exercise and enrichment needs are being met. A Labrador is more likely to want to play with other dogs compared to a Border Collie who may prefer to walk in a group but not interact directly with the other dogs.
Likewise, some dogs are more content to spend their days lounging on their owner’s lap, while others are much happier living as walking, cycling, and running companions.
Underlying medical conditions, especially orthopedic conditions, affect the type of exercise plan that is recommended, so it is important to consult a veterinarian if you are unsure which exercise is most appropriate. Breed can also come into play in this category, as some breeds are predisposed to certain medical conditions.
Brachycephalic or snub-nosed breeds are prone to overheating, so long bouts of intense exercise are not recommended, especially in hot, humid climates.
Obviously, there can also be many individual traits in a dog that change the type of exercise they prefer, so there’s no one-size-fits-all formula.