Dogs are very active creatures and, just like humans, need daily exercise to ensure they stay healthy. The best, and most straightforward way to do this is by taking them on a dog walk.
But less experienced, or first-time dog owners, may struggle to determine how much exercise their pet needs.
Reasons why dogs need adequate exercise
Interestingly, dogs have a higher metabolism than humans, which means they have much more energy to burn and require lots of mental stimulation. Not having an outlet for this energy can cause them to be anxious or destructive, potentially leading to bad habits.
If you notice destructive behaviours, such as chewing or scratching, after a walk, this could mean your pet still has energy to burn. Owners might wonder if a short walk, or a run around the garden would suffice, and really, this depends on the dog. But generally, dogs enjoy longer walks because it gives them a chance to explore.
How often should you walk your dog?
The government advises one 30 minute dog walk each day, while the Kennel Club suggests at least one or two. But the ideal amount of exercise varies, especially for different dog breeds. Older dogs and puppies may benefit from one or two shorter walks to avoid over exertion, while adult dogs in their prime could require much more.
Dog walking is just one of the aspects of pet ownership that requires long periods of trial and error. With this in mind, the team at Go Walkies have put together some helpful advice for those asking the question, how often should I walk my dog?
While all dogs need exercise, their age can determine the right amount that they need. It sounds counterintuitive, but too much exercise can actually have a negative impact on your pet, depending on what stage they’re at in life.
Puppies need much less exercise than adult dogs, and overwalking a growing puppy can tire them out and damage their developing joints, potentially leading to early arthritis.
A good rule of thumb to abide by is a ratio of five minutes exercise per month of age, up to twice a day until the puppy has reached adulthood. For example, if your dog is four months old, walk them for 20 minutes, twice a day.
Once they’re fully grown, owners will notice their dogs can walk for much longer, and the twenty-minute walk they had at four months old will no longer suffice.
Like humans, dogs slow down as they reach their senior years, and their ability to walk for long periods will decrease. In addition, they are more likely to develop a chronic health condition which will potentially affect their ability to finish a longer walk.
Daily, shorter walks are more beneficial to senior dogs. Staying active keeps their bones and muscles strong, as well as maintaining a healthy body weight.
The takeaway here is that it’s important for dog owners to take cues from their dog and modify their activities and daily walks to meet their needs.
Type of breed
When deciding how often to walk their dog, owners should also take into account their dog’s breed.
Higher energy dog breeds, such as terriers, huskies, golden retrievers, and herding breeds, can benefit from more frequent, longer walks. On the other hand, less active dog breeds, such as bulldogs and mastiffs, might benefit from one or two shorter walks a day.
Dogs with a ‘flat’ face, such as pugs and boxers, are a brachycephalic breed. This means their wide skulls and flat faces require special attention and can determine how and when they should be walked.
Hot or humid weather can cause dogs to pant too much and overheat, and in flat faced breeds, a fast walk or slow jog in this weather can potentially trigger breathing difficulties.
In summer months, dogs will benefit from a walk in cooler temperatures, ideally early in the morning or late in the evening, and it’s best to take them on flatter routes that won’t be so strenuous.
It’s important to remember that a walk doesn’t have to be limited to a stroll around the block. A 30-minute walk is a good starting point for both pet and owner, particularly if both have been sedentary for a while, but adding a game of fetch, or some play time with other dogs can make the outing more interesting – encouraging even the laziest of dogs.
Considerations to be made when walking your dog
When taking your dog for a walk, it’s important to understand what it means to be a responsible owner, what scenarios you may encounter and what you need as a result:
Unlike humans, dogs don’t have access to free public healthcare, and before collecting a puppy, or adopting a dog, owners should consider the best pet insurance for their furry friend.
An owner can’t possibly be prepared for everything when they leave the house with their dog, and if they get injured or pick up something they shouldn’t, the final vet bill could be very expensive. This is where pet insurance is ideal, as it exists to protect owners against unexpected costs related to their pets.
There are policies that help owners cover the cost of veterinary treatment and medical expenses when a pet gets injured or becomes ill, and more comprehensive policies could also include dental costs or if your dog causes damage or harm to property or another person.
The right accessories
Venturing from the quiet comfort of their home to the hustle and bustle of the outside world can be overwhelming for dogs. Fear can cause them to act out and become defensive, so an important part of being a responsible owner is ensuring a dog is well-socialised, certainly with other people, and ideally with other dogs.
When leaving the house, it’s also important for a dog to feel secure, which means choosing the right lead and collar. A dog that tends to pull won’t benefit from a thin lead or low-quality collar, and the possibility of breakage puts dogs at risk of running away.
If you’re not sure what collar and lead would be best, consult with a vet or professional. Just remember, they need to be well-fitted and comfortable, complete with a dog tag showing the correct details – which is now a legal requirement.
A dog may not be initially receptive to wearing a collar and lead, particularly puppies, and this can make walking difficult. Before walking, owners should put in the groundwork as part of a dog’s training, introducing the lead with rewards and praise so that they become comfortable.
Over time, owners might feel brave enough to remove the lead while walking, but it’s important to only do this when you are both in safe and non-populated areas. If they have a tendency to run away, keep dogs on a lead at all times, as this is crucial for the safety of other dog walkers and their pets.
Regular walks ensure a regular bathroom routine and avoid little accidents around the house.
With that in mind, it’s impossible to predict whether or not your dog will do more than pee while on a walk, so owners should always carry poo bags just in case.
If you’re caught not cleaning up after your dog, you could be faced with a Fixed Penalty Notice of up to £100. If the case goes to court, this could cost the owner or person in charge of the animal up to £1,000.
Consider hiring a dog walker
Dogs need exercise to stay in shape, both physically and mentally – but how many times you should walk your dog each day depends on their individual needs.
If you struggle to fit in dog walks between work and life demands, owners should consider using the GoWalkies dog walking app to find a dog walker that will ensure their dog gets the physical activity they need.
Remember, a simple walk contributes to improving your dog’s social behaviour as well as strengthening the bond that ties you two together.