Our lives have shifted dramatically since the global pandemic struck. Most of us chose to stay indoors in fear of contracting the deadly COVID-19 virus. Home-based is now our new normal. Your dog who patiently waits for you to arrive every night after a long day at the office is now more than happy to be seeing you all day, every day at home. It’s been more than a year and this new lifestyle might be wearing us out, not to mention our dogs. Your dog following you everywhere in the house could mean that it’s bored and boredom can pose potential health problems to your dog in the future. Taking them out for a short walk might just be the quickest and easiest way to relieve pent-up energy, but do you know that walking your dog has a lot of other great benefits?
Why Walking Your Dog Is Important
Just like people, dogs need exercise too and lack of exercise can lead to obesity, which can be associated with other health issues like heart and kidney disease, arthritis, and diabetes. Walking and other dog training and activities not only have great health benefits but also create mental stimulation for your dog. Seeing and sniffing new things keeps them mentally alert. Socialization with other dogs and people also helps your dog adapt easily to a new environment.
How Much Exercise Does My Dog Need?
When we get a dog for the first time, we understand, or at least we’re advised that one of their basic needs is daily exercise starting from puppyhood. What we might not know is that the amount of exercise a dog needs depends on these conditions:
Age – As our dogs get older they become less interested in vigorous activities. Do not force your dog to go out and walk if they don’t want to as it will only stress them out. Try to be creative and motivate them to do some light workouts out in the yard for at least 15 minutes per day.
Personality – Dogs, much like people, have unique personalities too, and oddly enough, some dogs are uncomfortable outdoors. A fetch game can be done indoors as a quick daily exercise for your dog while you try to motivate him to play his favorite game of fetch outside.
Breed – Breed is the substantial factor in how much exercise your dog needs. Dogs are either from high-energy or low-energy groups. High-energy breeds might require exercise a couple or more times per day whereas low-energy dogs might need just one long walk.
Your Dog’s Exercise Tolerance
If your dog has been a couch potato for a while, you might want to start them with just a 10-15 minute short walk per day to give them enough motivation and not wear them out right off the bat. When you notice that they get excited, you can build your way up to 30 minutes to 1-hour walk every day depending on their breed.
How Far Should You Walk Your Dog?
Dog breeds come in different sizes and different energy levels. Your decision on how far you should be walking your dog doesn’t depend on distance, but rather on time. A one-mile walk for a Siberian Husky might be a breeze but could already be a long exhausting walk for a Chihuahua. Another factor is the weather – reduce your walking time if it’s a particularly hot day and add a few more minutes on your walking time on a cool day if your dog seems to be enjoying it.
How Frequently Should Your Dog Go Out?
Kansas State Veterinarian Dr. Susan Nelson said that a standard recommendation for exercise time for dogs can’t be determined because exercise needs can be different from one dog to another depending on several conditions like health, age, breed, and weather. Dr. Nelson said to consider the following guidelines :
- Generally, larger dogs are high-energy breeds and require more exercise than smaller dogs that are mostly low-energy breeds.
- Dogs should go out twice a day for exercise, varying from 15 to 60 minutes depending on your dog’s breed or personality.
High Energy Dog Breeds
Most large dogs belong to the high-energy dog breed category like the Siberian Husky, Rottweiler, German Shepherd, and Labrador Retriever. These are athletic dogs that love extra playtime and plenty of exercise. They can be the best companions for people who like long walks and can also be considered running buddies. There are also smaller dogs that belong to the high-energy dog breeds like the Yorkshire Terrier who is always full of energy, mischievous and playful.
Different Dogs Have Different Walking Needs
While high-energy dog breeds thrive on frequent strenuous exercises, low-energy dog breeds prefer short and easy romps. Each dog has its specific walking or exercise needs, with other factors also in play like personality and age. And with that, it is never the same approach to exercise for every dog.
Walking Is Good For Your Dog’s Health
Walking helps your dog to have stronger muscles and aids their digestive system to function properly. It also improves their joints and stimulates their minds, making them more balanced. However active your dog is inside the house, they still have to burn up their repressed energy. A well-exercised pooch also tends to behave better.
How Often Should I Walk My Dog
First, you have to set a schedule and make sure to stick to it every single day. Dogs are creatures of habit, and anticipating a certain schedule adds to their excitement. As a start, especially if it’s the first time you are taking your dog out for a walk, let them sniff around for a good 10-15 minutes. If they seem to like it, then you can gradually increase the length of your time outside. All the factors cited – dog breed, age, health, and personality, should be able to guide you in your decision until you reach the standard 30 minutes to an hour mark every day.
Best Time To Walk Your Dog
Mornings and afternoons are great for long walks with your dog if you are in the countryside. Indulgent walks at night are also soothing for your dog if you live in the city as it is the only time it’s quiet. Your dog can freely sniff around without the congestion and loud city noises. Weather is also another factor. Extreme weather conditions can be dangerous for your dog so it’s best to go with indoor play or activities in the meantime. If you can’t help it then make sure your dog is wearing the proper attire to keep them safe.
Taking your dog out for a walk every day is a very easy routine that you can do. It is much less laborious than driving to the gym or enrolling in aerobics classes. Your dog is also your training partner. You can get healthier together while forming a stronger bond with each other.