Published: September 2020 | Updated: September 2022
My mom has a saying that she has been beating into me since I was a kid. “Gotta keep moving.”
Both of my parents recognize the value of an active lifestyle, which is part of the reason (along with a healthy diet and lifestyle) that they look and act much younger than their physical age.
I’ve always thought the same to be true of our pets. As the saying goes, “A body in motion stays in motion.”
Sometimes it is a little bit more challenging to know what our pets need in terms of exercise simply because they cannot speak up and tell us how they are feeling on a daily basis.
So how much exercise should a dog get? And what are some creative ways to exercise your dog when the weather or air quality is not cooperating?
Here are some of our best tips and tricks for keeping your pup in motion.
How Much Exercise Does a Dog Need Everyday?
The answer to this question depends on a few factors, including:
- Age (senior dogs have different exercise needs than puppies)
- Medical condition (i.e. does your pooch have hip dysplasia, heart disease or respiratory issues?)
It’s important to factor in mental stimulation as well. Dogs require physical and mental activity, just as we do. Practicing obedience work can be helpful for keeping boredom levels low. And it’s important to mix up your dog’s exercise routine to keep their brain engaged.
If your dog has a medical condition, make sure you discuss exercise options with your vet. And don’t forget that you never want to overdo it if it is an extremely hot day. Overheating is a very real concern for our canine friends.
If it is the middle of summer, take your pooch out during the coolest part of the day, and pay attention to symptoms of heat fatigue: excessive panting, disorientation, collapsing, vomiting, and bright red or blue gums, to name a few.
Brachycephalic dogs (such as pugs, bulldogs, and Boston terriers) have short snouts that can be prone to heatstroke, so they are particularly at risk. Try to avoid exercising your brachycephalic dog in the middle of the day when it's hottest outside. Instead, try early morning or late evening walks, or even indoor exercise!
Reduce Behavioral Issues with Exercise
Dogs that are provided with regular exercise tend to be relaxed and less stressed. When a dog is stressed, he or she will often exhibit destructive behavior such as chewing on furniture or other household items.
Regular exercise can help prevent these problems because it helps dogs relax and reduces their stress levels.
Regular exercise also provides mental stimulation for your dog which can prevent boredom-induced problem behaviors like digging, chewing objects around the house, barking excessively and so on. By providing your pup with toys that keep him or her busy when you're not available to play together (or even when you are), you're helping provide some "mental breaks" during the day while keeping them entertained so they won't have time to get into trouble!
Different Ways to Exercise Your Dog
If you use your imagination, you’ll be able to think of a million different ways to fulfill your pup’s daily exercise requirement! Here’s a few ideas to add in some variety to your normal walks around the neighborhood:
- Go on a hike
- Swimming (also a great low impact exercise option for dogs with joint issues)
- Play fetch
- Agility work
- Draft work (dog sledding, pulling a cart, etc.)
- Play frisbee
- Go to the dog park (just be sure to take the necessary precautions)
As you are exercising your pooch every day, recognize that while physical activity is necessary for maintaining a healthy weight and overall well being, your dog’s joints will simultaneously be experiencing more stress.
Check out the #1 hip and joint supplement for dogs here to protect your dog’s joint health and keep your pup active longer!
How to Exercise Your Dog Indoors
Ok, so what do you do when it is the middle of winter and there’s 3 feet of snow on the ground? Or is it summer in Texas and there is literally no time of day cool enough for your pup to go outside and not overheat?
If you live in an apartment or an area with a lot of cold weather, you may not be able to take your pup outside as often as you would like. This can be a problem if your dog is not getting enough exercise.
If this is the case, there are many things that you can do to make sure that your dog gets enough exercise while indoors.
Indoor exercise for dogs may require you to flex your creativity muscle; here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Teach your pooch how to use a treadmill. Sounds radical, but some high energy breeds really enjoy this and if you already have a treadmill for yourself, why not? As always, take it slow and be safe in the training process.
- Play hide-and-seek with your dog. Might give you a laugh too!
- Teach them a new trick (think: mental stimulation).
- Run up & down the stairs with your furry friend. Again, don’t overdo it and be cognizant of your dog’s size and conformation. For example, this might not be the best exercise idea for a Corgi or Dachshund.
- Indoor agility or obstacle courses. Kids make forts out of couch pillows. You can be innovative with this!
- Play indoor fetch or tug-of-war.
- Buy a canine puzzle toy or a slow feeder that your pup has to figure out.
Exercising Your Dog is a Win-Win
Make exercise a daily routine and modify it based on what your pup needs on that particular day. Your dog is a master communicator, and he will always find a way to get your attention. Pay attention to the cues and language your dog uses to fill you in on what he is thinking and how he is feeling.
And don’t forget that in the process of exercising your best friend, you are also on your way to aging gracefully! It’s a win-win.
Stay in motion, protect your dogs’ joints, and reap the benefits of a healthy, well-adjusted dog!