How Much Exercise Does Your Dog Really Need?

Getting enough physical activity is crucial for our dogs’ health and happiness. But with varying breeds, ages, and temperaments, it can be confusing to know just how much exercise your furry friend really needs.

Striking the right balance is important to keep your dog fit, stimulated, and well-behaved. In this article, we’ll look at the key factors determining your dog’s exercise requirements as well as provide general recommendations by age group.

You’ll also learn about different fun types of exercise for dogs and signs that your pup is getting adequate activity. Let’s explore how much exercise is ideal to keep your canine companion active and enriched.

Factors That Determine Your Dog’s Exercise Needs

There are several factors that determine how much exercise your dog requires:


Some dog breeds have more energy and stamina than others. High energy breeds like border collies, huskies, and Labrador retrievers need more exercise than low energy breeds like bulldogs, pugs, and Chihuahuas.


Puppies and younger dogs usually require more exercise and playtime. Senior dogs may need shorter, slower paced walks.


Dogs with medical conditions like arthritis may need lower impact exercise while obese dogs need more exercise to aid weight loss. Always consult your vet.


Even within the same breed, some dogs are naturally more active than others based on their individual personality and temperament.

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dog walking exercise

How Much Exercise is Recommended For Dogs?

Determining the right amount of exercise for your dog depends on factors like breed, age, health status, and personality. Here are some general guidelines on how much exercise dogs need:


Puppies require frequent exercise breaks throughout the day to expend their high energy levels. The general recommendation is around 5 minutes of structured exercise per month of age, up to twice per day.

For example, a 4 month old puppy needs about 20 minutes of exercise one to two times daily. This can include short walks, playing fetch, or free play with toys. Puppies have lower stamina, so exercise sessions should be kept short and positive.

As your puppy grows older, you can gradually increase the duration and intensity of exercise. But it’s important not to overdo it too soon while your puppy’s joints and muscles are still developing. Always provide plenty of rest periods.

Adult Dogs

The exercise needs of adult dogs depends largely on the breed and size. Some general recommendations per category are:

Low energy adult dogs like Bulldogs, Mastiffs, Saint Bernards: 30-60 minutes per day

This can be met through a few short walks around the block and some indoor play or training activities. Make sure to monitor lazier breeds for weight gain.

Medium energy adult dogs like Beagles, Schnauzers, Corgis: 45-60 minutes per day

These dogs do well with a morning or evening leash walk of 20-30 minutes, along with free play in a yard or dog park. Extra toys and training can provide mental exercise.

High energy adult dogs like Border Collies, Jack Russell Terriers, Australian Shepherds: 60-120 minutes per day

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High energy breeds thrive when provided vigorous exercise like running, hiking, playing fetch, or engaging in dog sports. They require longer walks, opportunities to run around off leash, plus mental stimulation through training.

The age, health, and personality of adult dogs can also impact ideal exercise times. Routine veterinary checkups can help you adjust their regimen as needed.

Senior Dogs

As dogs enter their senior years, their exercise capacity decreases and their needs change. Lower impact activities are best for aging joints and muscles. Recommended exercise includes:

  • Short, slower paced walks, about 10-20 minutes 1-2 times daily
  • Swimming or hydrotherapy which improves mobility without strain
  • Slow jogs for dogs who are able without joint pain
  • Light strength training and stretching exercises

The duration and intensity of exercise for senior dogs depends on their health. Work closely with your veterinarian to tailor an appropriate regimen. Prioritize low impact activities that keep them moving and enriched.

dog swimming in water with tennis ball in mouth

Types of Exercise For Dogs

Providing diverse physical and mental enrichment through different types of exercise is ideal for dogs. Consider these fun options:

Walks are great foundational exercise for all dogs. Tailor the duration and pace to your dog’s needs. Varying the route and letting them stop to sniff keeps it engaging.

Playing Fetch allows dogs to run at top speed and chase balls or frisbees, fulfilling their predatory instinct. Use balls with ball launchers for reduced effort.

Hiking provides physical exercise along with mental stimulation from new sights and smells. Dogs get to explore the outdoors. Start with shorter hikes and work up distance gradually.

Swimming is ideal low impact exercise for senior dogs or those with joint issues, as the water supports the body. Playing fetch in a pool or lake offers fun cardio.

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Agility Training combines physical activity with mental challenges as dogs navigate obstacles, tunnels, ramps and more. It builds confidence and bonding.

Dog Sports like flyball, disc dog, dock diving, and more allow dogs to participate in fun, engaging physical competitions and activities.

Mix up activities daily or weekly to prevent boredom. Consider your dog’s needs and preferences when planning their exercise routine.

How To Know If Your Dog Is Getting Enough Exercise

Signs that your dog may need more exercise include:

  • High levels of energy and hyperactivity – inability to settle down
  • Excessive barking, whining, pacing
  • Destructive behaviors like chewing, digging, tearing up objects
  • Jumping up on people, furniture
  • Poor leash manners like pulling constantly

An exercised dog will display opposite behaviors like:

  • Calm, relaxed demeanor in the home
  • Eager and excited, but controlled on walks
  • Able to settle down in the house more easily
  • Less problematic behavioral issues overall
  • Good leash walking skills

Pay close attention to your individual dog. Gradually increase duration and intensity of exercise if energy levels or behaviors suggest insufficient activity. An exercised dog will seem fulfilled and content. The right amount of activity benefits them physically and mentally.

The Takeaway

Determining the proper amount of exercise for your dog depends on breed, age, health, and personality. Use general recommendations as a starting point, then adjust according to your dog’s unique needs which may change over time.

Provide a mix of activities like walks, play, hikes, swimming, sports, and training to keep your dog engaged physically and mentally.

Pay attention for signs of insufficient activity, and increase duration as needed. With the right exercise routine tailored to your furry friend, they’ll stay happy, healthy, and well-behaved.Learn here more about pets health and wellness tips and guidance.