Little Known Facts About How Much Exercise a Dog Actually Needs

how much exercise does a dog need

Lazy Dog or ?

Our dogs rely on us to give them the exercise they need to keep them engaged, fit and healthy. Physically, dogs will become obese if they are not allowed to burn off the calories they take in during the day. This is especially true if they are being given a lot of treats in compensation for lack of attention.

Dog behavior experts generally agree that too little exercise is causing unwanted behavioral problems in dogs as well as an epidemic of dog obesity.

“There are so many under-exercised and under-entertained dogs and that’s resulting in medical and destructive behavioral problems,” says Dr. Kat Miller, a North Carolina-based animal behaviorist and director of anti-cruelty behavior research for the ASPCA.

Big or small, young or old, dogs need to exercise daily. While some breeds have special needs that have to be taken into account, and dogs do slow down as they age, they still need to take part in some form of daily physical activity. Without activity, your dog will become bored, frustrated and unhealthy. Exercise tones the muscles, helps the body and metabolic system to function properly, and engages the mind.

It’s a wake-up call to dog owners who think their dog is active.


So How Much Exercise Does a Dog Need?




How much exercise a dog needs varies depending on their age, size, breed or breed mix, sex, level of health and individual traits. The level of physical activity your adult dog needs is largely influenced by his breed so you should spend some time researching this.

Clearly an older dog or an adult dog with a medical condition shouldn’t be exercised to the same level as a healthy dog. As the owner, you know your dog best and are the best judge of how much exercise your dog can comfortably handle. When in doubt, talk to your vet about what is appropriate for your dog.

No matter your dog’s age, exercise provides all dogs with mental stimulation and keeps them active, which can help prolong their lives and reduce the risk of obesity.

Exercise should raise your dog’s breathing rate so that he is panting but not cause discomfort or is detrimental in any way. It is recommended that your dog needs to be worn out or at least worn down at the end of the exercise period.

The best form of exercise for most dogs is walking. Walking should form part of an overall exercise program with additional activities to engage your dog so that he has constructive ways to spend his time. This will effectively prevent your dog from engaging in destructive and unwanted behavior to overcome boredom or seek attention.

Your dog should spend between 30 minutes to two hours on an activity every day.


Dog Exercise Accessories

Whether its chasing, pulling, throwing, running, or playing fetch your dog is sure to have some fun! And you’ll know you are contributing to the long term health benefits of your dog by providing physical and mental stimulation with these great affordable exercise accessories.

Dog Jumps and Agility

So for the more active dog (and dog owners), how about really getting into that workout. Your dog is going to love any of these that will put their mental and physical stamina to the test.

High Tech Dog Exercise

Add gadgets and gizmos to your dog’s exercise time with this high tech gear designed for dogs. We’re not sure who will have more fun with these tech gadgets – your dog or you as a spectator!


The Benefits of Exercise for Your Dog

The aim of your dog’s daily exercise program is to keep your dog healthy, happy and out of trouble. Dogs are active animals and can become bored if left alone without any activity or stimulation which manifests itself in unwanted behavior. Exercise provides a lot of fun and benefits you and your dog.

Exercise, including mentally stimulating play, will help to reduce or eliminate common unwanted behavior such as excessive barking, chewing inappropriate or dangerous household items, and digging.



Regular exercise will avoid obesity and help to keep your dog’s weight under control.

Dogs who are scared of everything will build confidence by ‘normalising’ social activities resulting from exercise.

After exercise your dog will be physically and mentally tired and that will help him settle at bedtime, providing him (and you) with a better night’s sleep. You will be surprised to know just How Much Dogs Sleep.

With regular exercise your dog will be healthier in mind and in body.

Fun Mind Game Exercises For Dogs


Problems That May Result from A Lack of Exercise and Play

The problems that may result from a lack of exercise and play generally manifest themselves in unwanted behavior.

Destructive chewing, digging or scratching

Investigative behaviors, like raiding the rubbish bin

Hyperactivity, excitability and restlessness during night-time when they should be sleeping

Unruliness including jumping up on people

Potentially dangerous play biting and rough play

Attention seeking behaviors like whining and barking

But how do we know whether we are providing our dog with enough exercise?

how much exercise does a dog need


It just got easier with the clever use of technology. Read our recent review on the FitBark Dog Activity & Sleep Monitor to learn about this breakthrough that takes the guesswork out of determining how much exercise your dog is really getting and whether it is in fact enough!



Exercise Ideas

Most dogs benefit enormously from daily aerobic exercise that makes them pant as well as at least one half-hour walk. Choose activities that suit your dog’s individual personality and natural interests. Experiment with the ideas below to see what’s most practical and enjoyable for your dog and for you.

For healthy young or middle-aged dogs, leashed walks alone probably won’t provide enough exercise. But you can make a walk be more exciting when you experiment with different routes or combine the walk with bursts of high level interval training like fetch. If you didn’t catch it before here is a link to the FitBark Dog Activity & Sleep Monitor that will take the guesswork out of determining if your dog is getting enough exercise from leashed walks alone.

Leashed Walks

how much exercise does a dog need

Leashed walks should not look like this


Teaching your dog how to walk without pulling on the leash is the first step to creating a safe and enjoyable time for you both.  Dogs are curious explorers by nature so all exercise should be supervised and you need to keep your dog within calling distance and under control at all times. Read our recent article How to Stop a Dog Pulling on the Leash where you can learn how to make your daily walk enjoyable for both you and your dog.

In safe spaces and places, you can use an extendable leash to give your dog more freedom to explore. Be aware of The One Dog Leash You Must Avoid

Its a good idea to vary your usual route every other week or on weekends to give your dog new smells and sights to enjoy.

Walk your dog at a normal walking pace and stop to rest if your dog sits or lies down during the walk, and then continue walking when they are ready to get up again. If your dog seems too tired then stop walking and go home.


Dog Collars

These collars all come in a range of sizes. It’s important to have a collar that fits your dog properly.

Dog Harnesses

Dog harnesses need to fit correctly or they can chafe or apply pressure to the wrong places. The models below all have multiple adjustment points so you can fit them properly to your dog.

Dog Leads

One of these should fit your needs. Remember there’s a dog leash to avoid!



Off Leash Activities

Teaching your dog to respond quickly and consistently when you call (recall) is a prerequisite to any activity. Even if you don’t intend to have your dog off leash, accidents can happen and a reliable recall could save your dog’s life. Doggy Dan the Online Dog Trainer teaches this important command in a gentle and effective way. Take a look at this snippet of a video.



Off leash activities in public are a privilege that your dog earns once he is fully trained to respond and return to you on every occasion.

Off-leash walking, running, hiking or bicycling in a large, safe fenced backyard, or a designated dog park or in a forest are ideal activities. This way your dog can regulate his own pace and the amount of exercise he gets, and when he becomes tired he can just sit or lie down and rest before running off again. But again, only once your dog is 100% responsive to recall.

Obedience training under full supervision and in a safe area.


Fetching with a ball or a frisbee

how much exercise does a dog need

Got it!

Frisbees Designed For Dogs


Catching bubbles (using a toy made for dogs)

how much exercise does a dog need

Here it comes!


Chase with other dogs – but only once you have trained your dog for perfect recall.

how much exercise do dogs need

Playing chase off leash


Dog exercise balls made for soccer-style play with your dog using their paws and nose to play soccer-with you. You can join in.

how much exercise do dogs need

Lets play ball with a soccer ball

Exercise Balls for Dogs


Swimming is a non-joint stressing exercise for dogs, just as it is for people. It is a great option during the hot summer months when heat exhaustion is a concern.

how much exercise does a dog need

How refreshing and fun!


Jumps. These can be DIY using household items like cardboard boxes and a broomstick. An obstacle course provides a fun mental and physical workout. For safety, keep the jumps at or below your dog’s elbow level to avoid stressing her bones and joints.  Avoid encouraging your dog to keep jumping if he appears tired or stops.

how much exercise does a dog need

Small jumps suitable for the size of dog


And let’s not forget about organised dog sports like agility, flyball, and obedience training which can give you and your dog a whole new world of fun exercise and competition to explore.

Dog Jumps and Agility

So for the more active dog (and dog owners), how about really getting into that workout. Your dog is going to love any of these that will put their mental and physical stamina to the test.


Indoor Active Games

Tug of war

how much exercise does a dog need

Dog Tug Of War Toys


Interactive Feeding Toys

Using interactive feeding toys is a great way to make your dog burn some extra calories to get their meal. Don’t feed your dog out of a bowl, says ASPCA’s Dr. Kat Miller. “For at least one meal a day, stuff a food puzzle toy with kibble and, to taste, wet food. You’ll satisfy his hunger and teach him patience.” Read our recent article on the Do’s and Don’ts of Dog Toys to avoid common mistakes and make sure your dog is safe and always watch your dog while he’s playing with these toys.

how much exercise does a dog need

Yum. Play and food!

Interactive Dog Toys


Command training

how much exercise do dogs need



More Active Indoor Games

Jumping.  For more mobile (and smaller) dogs you can use a plastic hula hoop held upright, just off the ground and get your dog to walk through it. Give lots of praise once they jump through and gradually increase the height off the floor to get them jumping higher.

Stairs. You can use a flight of stairs for any dog who is mobile. Stand at the top of stairs with your dog at the bottom. Call your dog to you and reward them with some fuss or a game with their favourite toy. You can repeat this a few times but stop if they seem tired or out of breath.

Hide and seek (letting the winner find his well-hidden treat).

And we’ve left the latest in fun exercises for your dog to last. This one you don’t even need to be home for!  



We didn’t even know this existed until we reviewed Petcube Camera and Petcube Play. This is like the 21st century, remote control, virtual, indoor version of fetch! You need to see it to believe it – click here to watch it in action now.



High Tech Dog Exercise

Add gadgets and gizmos to your dog’s exercise time with this high tech gear designed for dogs. We’re not sure who will have more fun with these tech gadgets – your dog or you as a spectator!


What to Watch Out For Before, During and After Exercise


All exercise should be supervised and you need to keep your dog within calling distance and under control at all times.

Giving your dog the run of the backyard isn’t enoughAerobic exercise should be continuous with few breaks. It may be sufficient if your dog has another dog it can run around with outside but don’t rely on that as it may not be long periods of continuous play.

Talk to your vet if you have any concerns about whether your dog can handle a long walk. Don’t pressure your dog into doing things that are too strenuous as you could end up with bigger problems.

Before Exercise

Do some research about your dog’s particular breed, and remember that age, lifestyle, and personality are all factors.

Ideally, dogs should get out twice daily for exercise. Times may vary from 15-60 minutes, depending on your individual dog.

Make sure your dog will sit and stay on command, and has perfect recall. This will make the exercises easier to do, and more effective.

A general rule of thumb don’t feed dogs an hour before or after exercising.

Make sure your dog has a collar and dog tag and consider micro-chipping as things can happen and tags will get lost.

If you have recently brought your dog into your home ensure he is up to date on vaccinations.

Don’t forget to allow for a warm-up period and cool-down time at the end of your session.

You should plan to ask a friend, or maybe a professional dog-walker, to walk your dog if for some reason you have to miss a session.

Dress your dog for the outside environment.

how much exercise does a dog need


During Exercise

Keep your dog hydrated by offering them some water to drink at regular intervals during exercise.

how much exercise does a dog need


It is recommended that you don’t throw sticks for your dog to chase, as they can splinter and injure your dog’s mouth and throat.

When you see signs of fatigue, such as your dog panting, slowing their pace, or lagging behind you or stopping, let your dog rest until he is ready to resume.

Watch for overheating, such as your dog panting excessively, drooling, showing signs of agitation or confusion or vomiting.

Avoid roads that have been treated with salt when you take your dog for a walk in the snow, as its can sting your dog’s feet.

Walks and games are much better treats for dogs than food. Read our recent article for more about DIY Dog Treats.

Don’t overestimate your dog’s ability to jog or run with you for long periods at a time. Dogs tend to move in short, intense bursts of speed with intermittent stops. They like to stop to sniff around and investigate their surroundings or just to relieve themselves.

Watch your dog and see what it is they tend to enjoy more and adapt to suit. Does a walk in the morning and evening when it’s cool get him breathing hard? Or should the two of you go jogging instead? Does your dog like to retrieve toys or would he rather go swimming? Just as exercise for you should be enjoyable, so should his exercise.

After Exercise

Make sure there are no foreign objects stuck in your dog’s paws an check for blisters too.  Regular brushing will help to remove any debris your dog may have picked up while outside. Learn more about the importance of brushing in our recent article on DIY Dog Grooming.

Don’t forget to allow for a warm-up period and cool-down time at the end of your session.

And finally, assess whether you have given your dog enough exercise using the handy FitBark Dog Activity & Sleep Monitor.

Dog Care After Exercise

Dog Brushes

Shampoo For Dogs

DIY Dog Shampoo Ingredients

Here are all the ingredients you will need to make your own Dog Shampoo. Click through for the recipe and full instructions to make DIY Dog Shampoo.

P.S. You probably already have the water but if your dog has any skin irritations or conditions, distilled water won’t at least aggravate them further.


Exercising with your dog is a great way for the two of you to strengthen your bond and be active together!

For more ideas on activities you can do with your dog, read our article 15 Fun Things to do With Your Dog.


Training is Always the Answer

At DIY Dog Projects we think that teaching your dog good behavior is the most important and most rewarding project you can do for, and with, your dog. We hope this article has explained your dog’s exercise needs and how important it is that you have control of your dog during exercise. Click on the Doggy Dan the Online Dog Trainer link below and let him be your guide.


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