Dog-walking is, forgive the pun, a two-way street: They get to exercise and you do, too.
By Malcolm Mayhew
Dogs need exercise to maintain muscle tone as well as an appropriate weight for their age and breed. But walking your dog isn’t only a physical activity, says Dr. Genna Mize, a Consulting and Reporting Veterinarian at Virbac. “It provides mental stimulation as well,” she says. “Walks can help your dog gain exposure to new surroundings, building confidence and potentially minimizing the risk of anxiety-related behavioral issues.”
But how do you know how often to walk your dog? You’re not alone! Many dog-owners, especially first-time dog owners, aren’t necessarily sure.
There are several factors to consider when deciding how often you should walk your dog, including breed, weather, your dog’s exercise tolerance, age and your schedule.
High-energy dogs, such as terriers, golden retrievers and Australian shepherds, require more leash time than low-energy dogs, such as bulldogs and mastiffs. Exceptions exist: Particularly rambunctious dogs, no matter the breed, could always benefit from more time outdoors and, likewise, couch potato dogs may not be as eager to exercise.
Avoid walking your dog in extreme weather conditions. In the summer, it’s tempting to take your dog on long walks. But dogs should avoid going on walks in the heat of the day. They could get dehydrated and, if they’re walking on concrete, the heat of the sun could burn their paws.
A dog in good shape can easily stroll around for 20-30 minutes, while dogs in great physical condition can tolerate walks up to two hours or go hiking for hours at a time. Less conditioned dogs may start to pant or become more interested in their surroundings after about 10-15 minutes of walking.
Monitor your dog’s energy levels. If they start to slow down after a few minutes, head home and keep an eye on their behavior. If they immediately crash on the couch or drink an unusual amount of water, they may have exercised too much.
A dog’s tolerance for exercise can be increased, as long as they’re in good health. Week by week, introduce walks that last a few minutes longer, building up their stamina and appropriately conditioning their bodies.
Also, talk with your veterinarian about how your dog could benefit from hip and joint support products such as MOVOFLEX® Advanced Soft Chews. Our supplement is for dogs at all life stages and supports hip and joint structure and flexibility, as well as bone health.
A dog’s age plays a major factor in their exercise needs. A younger dog may have more energy than a middle-aged (5-8 years old) or senior dog (9 years and older). Middle-age and senior dogs may also have health conditions that prevent them from walking more than 20-30 minutes. Mentally, they’re ready to roll but physically, a long walk could be too taxing. Talk to your veterinarian!
If you lead a busy life and can’t always walk your dog as much as you’d like, consider an alternative, such as hiring a dog walker or substituting walks for playing in your yard or a nearby park.
PetMD recommends your dog receive at least 10-15 minutes of continuous exercise per day, whether it’s a walk or playtime.