Most of you have heard the phrase “a tired dog is a good dog,” but what does that mean for you and for your home? What does it look like?
Simply put: a tired dog is less prone to boredom and destructive behaviours. If you take them out to play and exercise, they won’t be looking for indoor activities like chewing up shoes and furniture.
However, you can do more than just walk your dog. There’s all sorts of options when it comes to exercise.
Activities that make your dog think can be just as tiring, if not more so, than physical play. This includes utilising things like puzzle bowls and snuffle mats.
Learning new tricks and practising commands also counts towards exercise.
So, if you feel like you're struggling to exercise your dog enough, switch up your routine and do something new. It’ll keep things engaging for you and your canine companion.
Your dog’s needs will change as they age. A puppy’s needs are very different from that of a senior. Your puppy will want to play frequently while an older dog may be content with a walk in the morning.
We’ll take a dive into how much exercise is right for your dog and what you can do to help keep them active.
There is no one size fits all when it comes to how often and what type of exercise your dog will need.
Their needs depend on all sorts of factors like breed, age, health, diet and personality. A German Shepherd’s needs are very different from that of a chihuahua.
The basics are the same no matter what age and breed of dog you have though. You’ll need to consider what type of exercise will benefit your dog, how much playtime they need and what you’re looking to accomplish with your dog’s routine.
Are you looking to tire out your puppy or are you trying to help your elderly dog lose weight? Those are two very different regimens.
If you’re ever in doubt, you can always consult your veterinarian and come up with an exercise regimen that works for you and your dog.
Exercise for Puppies
How often should you walk your puppy? This is a question a lot of new owners have, so you aren’t alone.
A good rule of thumb is that they shouldn’t be walked for more than 5 minutes for every month of age, and you can do this twice a day. If your puppy is six months old; two 30 minute walks should be a good amount for them.
This should be cut back for large breeds that grow more slowly. Too much exercise can cause joint damage.
Playtime also counts as exercise. You can let them play at home with their favourite toys or let them out supervised into an enclosed space. It’s important to let them run around and explore.
It’s also helpful that puppies tire quickly and will just lay down and nap when they get too tired. There isn’t too much risk of them overdoing it.
It might feel like they tire too quickly and aren’t getting the work out they need, but don’t worry. They’re young and need a lot of rest to grow properly.
Exercise for Adult Dogs
Exercise for your dog is going to heavily depend on their breed, personality, and energy level. There is no one size fits all answer to exercising an adult dog.
In general, a dog in good condition will be happy with two 20-30 minute walks per day. This will give them almost a full hour of exercise a day. It will help keep them mentally stimulated as well as they explore the outside world.
If you have a small breed such as a chihuahua or a pomeranian, they may only need 30 minutes of walking a day that can be broken down into two 15 minute sessions.
If you have a working breed that is high energy and high drive, you may be looking at a total of 2 hours or more of walking every day. It can be a very big commitment.
Exercise for Senior Dogs
Your dog will start to slow down as they age, but you should still aim for at least thirty minutes of exercise a day.
You can do two fifteen minute walks or play with some of their favourite toys. The key for senior dogs is going to be finding low impact exercises that are easy on the joints. We will discuss a few examples later in this blog.
This is especially important for larger breeds that can suffer from hip dysplasia and slip kneecaps.
If your dog was once your running buddy, you may have to switch to walking instead of running. It will be much easier on their hips and knees.
Hiking may no longer be a good choice, but you can still go for walks at the park. It will all depend on your dog’s health at this age.
This is what most of us think of when we think of exercise. Taking your dog on walks is the most common and well known way to exercise them, but you have options.
You can play with their favourite toys or go for a swim. It’s important to keep your routine fresh and exciting so that your dog stays engaged.
Toys are a great way to make playtime more interactive.
Your dog loves to play, but what could be even better? Playing with you. This is an excellent time for you and your dog to bond.
Fetch is a great option. It’ll allow your dog to run around and it’s a great time to work on them coming back to you.
Something like the Fenrir Hammer is great for this game. Due to the shape it’ll bounce more erratically than a tennis ball or something similar.
This keeps your dog guessing and makes fetch more engaging than it normally may be.
Tug-O-War is another great interactive game to play with your dog. This one really gets you involved and promotes bonding.
Our Jute Tug Toy is amazing for this type of game. The material doesn’t get slippery when it’s wet and it’ll stand up to even the toughest of dogs.
Swimming is a great, low impact exercise. It’s easy on the joints which is great for senior dogs.
It will help keep them active and the resistance from the water adds an extra layer to the activity.
It’s also amazing in the summer months when it may be too hot to go for your regular walks or hikes. Be mindful though! Your dog can overheat just like you do.
Make sure you take plenty of water and take breaks as needed.
Hiking, running or just a regular walk are great forms of exercise and considered the “standard.” It’s what you hear about everyone taking their dog out to do.
It’s a good way to let them explore the world while they get in their steps.
There will be plenty of new sights, sounds and smells for them. Don’t be afraid to stop and let them sniff a little. It’s important mental exercise for them.
Switch It Up!
Make sure you change where you take your walks or play from time to time. It’ll help keep things fun without too much extra effort.
Try a new park or a different neighbourhood. It doesn’t have to be anything drastic or far away from home.
If you haven’t hung out in your backyard for a while, even that counts.
Did you know that mental stimulation can be more exhausting than physical exercise? Using their nose or brain is a lot of extra work.
There are a lot of options when it comes to this and they often involve physical activity as well.
You don’t need a lot of fancy equipment to get the job done. You have toys at home already and you’ve been working on training.
We’ll take a look at what you can do to help your dog get a mental workout.
Heel Walking is an invaluable skill for you and your dog to have. It’ll make going for walks so much nicer and much more calm.
It’s one of the basics for obedience training. Any good dog should be able to walk at your side without tugging on the lead or trying to run ahead.
This skill is also a great form of mental stimulation for your dog. They’ll have to pay attention to you for cues and listen for instructions. That’s a lot of work.
We highly recommend teaching heel walking from a young age. Your dog will have a chance to become a pro and it’ll make life easier overall.
A good game of ‘go find it’ is the perfect way to keep your dog mentally sharp. You’ll tell them to go find a toy and they need to bring you the correct one.
Before that though, they need to learn the names of all their toys. This is going to be a slow process for some as they need to learn new words and associations.
Set a toy in front of them and say what it is. When they touch it with their nose or pick it up, be sure to praise them.
You are the biggest play asset that your dog has. Engage with your dog and get them focused on you and what you’re doing.
As we said before, toys make for a great way to physically play, but they also make for great mental stimulation!
With fetch, your dog will need to be paying attention in order to chase down whatever toy is being thrown.
Tug-O-War makes them have all eyes on you. They need to focus on tugging on the toy without playing too roughly.
You could even try something like hide and seek where they need to sniff you out. This is amazing for working on their impulse control.
Puzzle Toys and Foraging Mats
These are both excellent options as your dog will have to work for their food. A foraging mat will make them dig out the food while a puzzle toy will make them find the place the food is hidden.
This is especially useful for dogs who eat too quickly. It forces them to slow down and can help avoid things like stomach upset while also being fun.
No matter how much exercise your dog needs, you’ll be able to provide it. The possibilities are endless.
You can spend fifteen minutes with your new puppy until they need a nap or take your working dog out for a proper hike in the forest. The only thing that limits playtime is your imagination.
What are your favourite games to play with your dog and how much exercise do they need?
We’d love to hear all about it, so come over to our social media pages and drop us a line.