We all know the benefits of exercise for ourselves and our dogs. But if you’ve recently become a dog parent, you may be wondering “How long should I walk my dog?”. It’s a legit question – some people may think you’ve got to get out and run a marathon with their dogs and others may think sending them out to the yard to pee is enough.
First, it’s important to realize that daily exercise is extremely important in your dog’s life. It doesn’t always have to be a walk, but they need daily activity just like we do.
If we sit around all day with no activity, no interaction, and no stimulation, we become lumps of tissue. No one wants to become a lump of tissue and neither does your dog.
Benefits of Taking Your Dog For Walks
- You both get moving! Get out and see the world. Go new places, experience new sights and smells, and see new people.
- It’s good for their joints and muscles. Walking has many of the same benefits for our dogs as it does for us. It strengthens muscles, increases flexibility, it’s low impact on your joints, and it increases stamina.
- It’s a free activity you can use to bond with your dog and train your dog. Teaching them how to walk with or without a leash (whichever route you decide to go) is a perfect opportunity for together time and also learning.
- Walking is good mental stimulation for your dog. And good mental stimulation can help to keep your dog from searching for other ways to get stimulated such as chewing up all your stuff or excessive barking.
So there’s no doubt that walking your dog is beneficial (provided your dog is physically able), but how long and how often?
How Long Do I Need To Walk My Dog?
There is no one size fits all when it comes to answering that question. It largely depends on the age and breed of your dog. If you have a brand new puppy, the answer is not long. Generally, five minutes for every month of age is the standard recommendation.
Example: 6-month-old puppy = 30 minute walk
Or if you have a senior dog (over 7 years old), the exercise needs may decrease. They still need to keep moving, but he or she may not be able to get out there for five miles anymore.
But if your dog is out of the puppy stage and not geriatric, a lot of the answer depends on your schedule and the breed. Can you do one long walk or several short walks? Both!
Keep in mind – Any exercise is better than none
Most dogs will thrive with between 30 minutes and two hours of exercise each day.
You might be thinking – there’s no way I can spend two hours exercising every day because I don’t even do that for myself. This is why it’s very important to choose the right breed of dog for your family and your lifestyle.
Maybe you can plan on a minimum of 30 minutes walking and 30 minutes of playing fetch or other training exercises. The types of exercise that get you to the 30 minutes to 2-hour goal will vary with every dog.
How to Know How Long To Walk Your Dog
Pay attention to your dog and any cues they are giving that the walk is too long or too short. Dogs are like us in that we all have different needs and abilities. Your vet can guide you on how much is typical for your dog, but often you need some trial and error.
We could always tell when the walks were either too short or too long with our dog because he would either pull away when we got close to our house or willingly walk on towards the house.
Dogs are excellent at giving signals. Pay attention to them.
Just because someone says you’ll need to walk for at least an hour, let your dog guide you in their ability and needs.
There are high energy dogs that you could walk for an hour and they won’t even be close to being tired out as opposed to some lower energy dogs that might be perfect with 15 minute walks twice a day.
When to Stop Walking Your Dog
- If your dog has an injury – stop immediately
- If the weather conditions are going to cause pain for your dog
- Hot pavement – before you think about taking your dog out in high temperatures, put your hand down on the pavement. If it burns your hand and is uncomfortable, it’s too hot for dog paws. They are walking in bare paws, not fancy tennis shoes like us. Their pads can burn from hot pavement.
- If your dog is lagging behind or struggling to keep up, it’s far enough
High Energy Breeds
There are certain breeds of dogs that are more high energy than others. But remember – it’s not a guarantee. Dogs are individuals, just like us. But typically, you can expect for these breeds to require more exercise and/or longer walks:
- Border Collie
- German Shepherd
- Australian Shepherd
- Siberian Husky
- Rat Terrier
- Yorkshire Terrier
Clearly, that’s not an exhaustive list and you could wind up with the laziest Boxer on the planet. There are no guarantees.
One good way to see if you’re a match for your dog as far as activity and walks go is to foster a dog. Volunteer at a shelter or rescue group and see what breeds or sizes of dogs are a match for you. See if you can take a dog for a walk and maybe you’ll find the perfect match of energy for you.
If you know you absolutely won’t walk for more than 15 minutes, it might be best to skip the super high energy dogs. Or if you’re an avid runner and you’re looking for a partner dog to run with you, make sure you find a good match for running such as a high energy breed.
Easy Answer for How Long To Walk Your Dog:
Well – there’s not an easy answer as all dogs have varying needs and abilities.
But. The general rule of thumb is between 30 minutes and 2 hours of exercise daily. That doesn’t necessarily mean a 2-hour walk at one time.
Trial and error will be your friend. You’ll be able to tell if your dog is getting enough exercise. Are they tired out or are they constantly looking for trouble in your house? The latter suggests that your dog is bored.
If they aren’t getting mental and physical stimulation, they will be more likely to cause trouble. And that doesn’t make for a happy household with your new dog baby.
Walking your dog is part of being a responsible dog mom or dad. It’s a necessary part of their health and happiness.