How Much Exercise Does My Dog Really Need?

How much exercise does my dog really need?

You may have always wanted a workout buddy! And concurrently there is no better companion than a dog to achieve both your fitness goals. Needless to say there are a multitude of benefits for the same. Dogs are the most fervent and stoked workout pal you can ever find and best of all they can be your trainer too in their capacity. So, here is how you can exercise your dog!  

Benefits of exercise for dogs 

Remember that regardless of the size, breed, age or gender of your dog, you need to get your dog to workout. But as a dog lover, you may be aware of how much dogs love going on walks. These are some benefits your dog may be rewarded with regular physical activity:

  • Helps to maintain a healthy weight – Regular exercise helps burn off excess calories and helps maintain a steady weight or even aids in weight loss in dogs on the heavier side.

  • It is a source of mental stimulation –  Dogs are very intelligent and love mental challenges. This can help reduce any signs of boredom, anxiety and destructive behaviours. 

  • Helps with behaviour improvement – Dogs who are exercised regularly are more calmer and less prone to aggression. 

  • Improves social skills – Being in the outdoors increases the opportunity to socialise with other pets and humans alike. 

  • Boosts heart health – Physical activity can improve blood flow and oxygen levels in the body which improves cardiovascular health. 

  • Strengthens bones, muscles and joints – Regular exercise and movement of joints can help improve the flexibility, strength and range of motion of muscles and bones too. 

  • Improves longevity – Exercise supplemented with a wholesome and nutritious diet can boost immunity and improve the quality of life. 


The duration of exercise is completely dependent on your pet. Even dogs of the same breed, age and gender require different levels of physical activity.

Though the majority of breeds such as working breeds or an active dog breed require high levels of activity, there is a vast difference in the activity level requirement of toy breeds comparatively. This must be a serious factor to keep in mind when choosing a puppy. It is necessary to not have unrealistic expectations from your pet. It is not fair to expect a Shih Tzu to participate in a sporting marathon. 

Let us see the activity requirement based on your dog’s age group:

Puppyhood 

The activity needs of a puppy are quite distinctive and are the highest in this stage of life. They may have frequent zoomies (frantic activity out of the blue like sugar highs and collapse as a very tired puppy) in a day. Puppies are in the growing phase and require a lot of energy for this purpose. It is a smart decision to have small play sessions throughout the day. Keep these pointers in mind-

  • Ensure you initiate playtime

  • Do not overexert your puppy

  • Research your puppy’s breed requirement    

  • Always play safely

  • Do not wake them up from sleep to play

  • Do not play in the outdoors unless completely vaccinated

Adulthood

Adult dogs are more versatile in terms of energy requirement and expenditure. This is the best phase to have fun with your furry friend without any limitations. Adult dogs require a minimum of 30 minutes workouts per day but it depends on the breed as well. 

  • Flat-faced dog breeds require fewer workouts and extra caution needs to be taken especially during summer.

  • Toy breeds do well with small periods of workout per day.

  • Giant breeds and large breeds are at risk of getting hip dysplasia, heart and respiratory issues.

  • Sporting breeds like Pointers, Setters, Spaniels etc. enjoy swimming, hiking and running.

  • Herding breeds like Collies, Shepherd and Sheepdogs are very intelligent and do well with activities which require hide and seek.  

  • Working breeds like Huskies, Boxers and Rottweilers etc. require intense and consistent exercise.

Senior dogs

Senior dogs require constant attention and careful observation of their behaviour and activities.

Mobility limitation is a characteristic feature of this stage. Practising physical activity from puppyhood can improve their chances of good muscle power and memory during old age. Here are some tips – 

  • Choose low-intensity exercises

  • Keep a check on your dog’s weight

  • Take your pet for physical therapy

  • Practise small intervals of activity 

 Special cases

  • Dogs with medical conditions like arthritis, joint pain and other health conditions will do well with other forms of physical activity like swimming since they are less intense and do not stress the joints or hips.

  • Certain dog breeds like stub-faced breeds (Shih Tzu, Pekingese, Pug), Chihuahua, Dachshund, Mastiffs, and Basset hounds are not built for strenuous activity and are relatively low maintenance.


Here are some ideas to exercise your dog 

Outdoor exercises

Go get some fresh air with these fun ideas:

  • Go on a hike with your dog in the mountains or a park.

  • Cycle with your dog but avoid the main roads for safety reasons.

  • Go rollerblade skating with your dog.

  • Go for a swim.

  • Play fetch.

  • Practise obedience training for some mental stimulation.

  • Enroll your dog in some dog sports (scent work, agility training, obedience training etc.)

Indoor exercises

With the weather and our mood being unpredictable, here are some interesting at-home activities –

  • Play running and catching on the staircase

  • Play hide and seek

  • Invest in a doggy treadmill

  • Play tug of war

  • Practise at-home agility training


Exercising your dog while you are busy

You may have a tightly packed schedule, but ensure providing activity to your pet is a top priority with these ideas:

  • Blend your exercise time with your pet’s

  • Get a dog walker to provide activities to your pet

  • Get a playmate for your dog

  • Enroll your dog at the doggy daycare

  • Check if your office is pet-friendly and take your dog along

  • Play hide and seek

If you are still perplexed as to how to exercise your dog and the duration they require, you may consult a veterinarian who may give you a precise amount of the activity your furry buddy requires after a careful analysis of their specific requirements.

A daily exercise calculator available in Google will need you to put in some personal details of your dog and will calculate the workout time required for your pet with some pointers.

It is not only important to make your dog work but also carefully at the same time:

  • Do not leave your pet unleashed in unfenced or unsafe areas

  • Supervise your dog’s play time with other dogs

  • Make sure your pet is always in sight when outdoors

  • Be proactive in finding any signs of aggression or exhaustion

A mantra of trial and error should be adopted to identify a harmonious exercise schedule to suit both your dog and your lifestyle, requirements and needs. Start slow and let your furry friend get used to the schedule at their pace. It is a very rewarding process after all to see your dog lead a healthy and happy life. 

Mayuri, 
Clinical Dietitian, Simplyweight

The London Obesity & Endocrine Clinic specialises in Weight Loss and Endocrine disorders at the Specialist Weight Loss Centre in Chennai, India. We offer face to face and virtual consultations with our specialist clinical lead, Dr Rajeswaran, who has 25+ years experience in this field. We support people with Obesity related medical conditions including Type 2 Diabetes, Fatty Liver, Infertility, Erectile Dysfunction, and Endocrine disorders like Hypothyroidism, Hyperthyroidism, PCOS, Hirsutism, Adrenal Dysfunction, Menopause, Pituitary problems and Sexual Dysfunction. Our services predominantly cover major cities in India including New Delhi, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai and PuneWe also offer aesthetic treatments, metabolic master health checkups, bespoke weight management plans and an unique online weight loss plan for wellness and weight management. Get in touch to transform your life!

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