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June 2023

Dog Exercise Tips to Keep Them Healthy

CareHealth & Nutrition

Why Is It Important for Dogs to Exercise?

Just like humans, dogs need exercise for both their physical and mental wellbeing! It’s also important as it helps your dog maintain a healthy weight, which puts them in better stead to avoid all sorts of physical issues and ailments.

Physical Benefits of Exercise for Dogs

1. Helps Maintain Their Weight

As cute as a chonky bottom is, it’s not great for your dog’s wellbeing if they’re overweight. Regular exercise (coupled with a healthy diet) helps keep the pounds off!

2. Keeps Your Dog Fit (and it’s Great for Their Overall Health)

Did you know that dogs that exercise regularly have a longer lifespan on average than dogs that don’t? That’s reason enough for us!

3. Reduces the Risk of Health Issues

There’s a slew of diseases and health concerns that dogs are at a higher risk of developing if they’re not exercising properly. These include joint problems, insulin resistance, stiff limbs, osteoarthritis, cardiovascular disease, and liver disease – to name a few. Avoid these by keeping your pet physically active!

4. Promotes Healthy Digestion

Ever felt full, gone for a walk, and then felt better? It works for dogs too! Walking can help regulate your dog’s digestive system and keeps everything regular.

Mental Benefits of Exercise for Dogs

1. Reduces Boredom and Frustration

If your dog has energy to burn, this could manifest into undesirable behaviours like digging holes, chewing furniture, and barking incessantly. A frustrated dog is far more likely to engage in destructive behaviours – but regular exercise helps reduce excess energy! Even if you’re just undertaking a casual Sunday stroll, it’s still beneficial because your dog is engaging with new sights and smells.

2. Promotes Socialisation

Taking your dog for walks provides an excellent opportunity to work on their social skills and trains them to interact well with other dogs.

3. Builds Trust with Owners

Bonding time is quality time!

4. Keeps Them Happy

Dogs benefit from structure and routine – you’ll notice if you usually walk your dog at a certain time, they’ll come looking for you when that time rolls around because they’re itching to go. Being outside is also a huge mood boost for you dog.

+ It’s also good for YOU!

Exercise releases endorphins for dogs and humans alike – so incorporating it into both of your daily routines is a great idea.

Hot Tip

Did you know that, on average, dog owners walk 300 minutes per week – eclipsing people without dogs who walk just 160 minutes per week. Your dog is helping keep you in shape!

Dog Exercise Needs By Breed

While all dogs need exercise, they don’t all require the same amount: some dogs have boundless energy while others are content to do their best impression of a potato for the majority of the day. While every dog is different, your dog’s breed will give some indication of their energy needs.

Sporting and Hunting Dogs Exercise Needs

Sporting and hunting dogs were traditionally bred to be able to withstand hours of running long distances. These breeds are high energy and require strenuous exercise to keep them physically and mentally stimulated. Popular sporting and hunting breeds include German shorthaired pointers, golden retrievers and vizslas.

They need a minimum of one hour of exercise a day but would do better with two or even three hours when possible. Try strenuous activities like hiking, running, swimming or long walks which incorporate play.

Working and Herding Dogs Exercise Needs

Working and herding dogs were bred to (you guessed it!) work – traditionally they were used to herd livestock on farms, to pull sleds or for the purpose of rescue. These breeds are high energy – but they tend to prefer moderate exercise spread over long periods of time. Working dogs are highly intelligent so they need plenty of play and mental stimulation. Popular working breeds include Border collies, kelpies, Australian cattle dogs, Burmese mountain dogs and huskies.

They require a minimum of 1 hour exercise a day, though would do better with two hours of moderate exercise a day.

Mind the weather! If you’ve got a working breed designed to withstand freezing temperatures do not exercise them strenuously on hot days. Try brain games instead.

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Terrier Exercise Needs

Terriers are smaller dogs with big personalities! They were bred for hunting and tracking vermin and, despite their size, are relatively high-energy. Common terrier breeds include Airedale terriers, Irish terriers, Welsh terriers, Yorkshire terriers, Scottish terriers and West Highland white terriers.

They require a minimum of 1 hour of exercise a day (consisting of at least a 30-minute walk and 30 minutes of high-intensity play) but would do best with 1.5 hours of exercise per day.

Be sure to consider the individual breed. Airedale terriers and Yorkshire terriers both fall under the terrier family, but they’re vastly different sizes and have different exercise needs. If you’re unsure about your dog’s exercise requirements check with your vet or visit one of our friendly team instore.

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Hound Exercise Needs

The hound family comprises a variety of breeds with different needs.

Common hounds were bred for hunting, and they’re known for their boundless energy and stamina. This includes beagles, dachshunds, and basset hounds.

They do well on long walks and require 1 hour to 1.5 hours of exercise a day. They also benefit from brain games and mental stimulation – and are particularly responsive to games and activities that tap into scent training.

By contrast, sighthounds were bred to run. Common sighthound breeds include greyhounds, Irish wolfhounds, and whippets.

If you’ve got a sighthound, they benefit from short bursts of high-speed exercise coupled with low intensity walks. 20-30 minutes per day should satisfy them so long as you’re incorporating play into their day-to-day.

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Brachycephalic Breeds Exercise Needs

Brachycephalic breeds have flat faces and short noses. In some cases (like English and French Bulldogs), these features were believed to be helpful for pit fighting – but it was also a feature popular with lap dogs (like Pekingese, pugs and shih tzus).

These breeds struggle with their breathing and therefore exercise for them must be low intensity. Ideally, they’ll receive multiple walks per day that add up to around 30-45 minutes total – though they shouldn’t be exercised for more than 30 minutes at any one time.

Brachycephalic breeds are more susceptible to overheating in warmer weather so avoid walking them on excessively hot days.

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Dog Exercise Ideas

We all know about walks – but what else is out there? Here are 11 creative ideas to change up your dog’s exercise routine!

1. Walk, jog, run.

Ok, so we’re starting off easy. It’s simple, yet effective – get out there and get moving!

2. Let them walk you.

Mix things up and let your dog decide on the walking route for a change! Just follow them wherever they want to go and see where it leads.

3. Hiking.

If you’ve got a dog that’s suited to exercising for longer distances, take them out with you on your next adventure!

4. Swimming.

A great low-impact exercise that also burns up excess energy – swimming is great for dogs that like the water! Play fetch with them to encourage them to swim further, and a life jacket is a good idea to get their confidence up.

5. Cycling.

While not recommended on the road, there are bike paths where you can take your dog with you. It’s a good idea to start small, and make sure your dog has excellent recall prior to undertaking this activity.

6. Skating

It doesn’t have to be a lost pastime of the 90s! Whether you’re on skates, rollerblades, or a skateboard – your dog can accompany you provided they have good recall.

7. Fetch

An oldie but a goodie. Shake up your regular fetch routine by throwing the ball up hills, weaving in and out of trees or even throwing it in the water to encourage your dog to swim. Don’t forget to change up what you’re using to keep it exciting, switching lures each time you go should do the trick.

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8. The Stairmaster

Do you have stairs in your house? Or do you have access to some at a nearby park? If your dog doesn’t have any pre-existing joint issues, put them to work by playing fetch up and down the stairs – it’s a great way to get your dog moving and burning excess energy!

9. Obedience

Not exercise you say? Well, hear us out. While training may not seem akin to physical exertion – practicing recall, retrieving, and training commands is excellent mental stimulation which still burns off energy. Ever felt exhausted after a long day at work? It’s the same principal! And hey, your dog can learn something in the meanwhile.

10. Nose Games

Whether or not your dog was bred for hunting, all dogs have one thing in common: an excellent sense of smell. Put it to work with nose games! You can keep treats in boxes and make a trail for them to follow, put a treat in one hand and make them choose which one, hide the treats and make them find it – get creative!

11. Dog Sports

Did you know you can enroll your dog in sports and enrichment classes? Many major cities have agility, herding, obedience, and scent courses available for dogs – enroll your dog in something new and learn a few things together!

Dog Exercise At Home

You dog is full of beans and climbing up the walls but it’s raining outside and you’re at a loss for what to do with them? We’ve all been there! Fear not, there are ways to burn off energy without leaving the house. Here are 7 ways to keep them entertained without opening your front door.

Games to Play with Dogs

1. Invest in Tech

Use electronic toys to engage and stimulate your pets! You can get them to chase a treat dispenser, or even play ball with themselves!

2. Snuffle Mats

You can use snuffle mats to create a fun home activity. Hide their kibble or disperse treats through it. This mimics the foraging and hunting behaviour they’d be doing in the wild, which also expends energy for them.

3. Treat Dispensers

If you’ve got a treat dispensing toy, put peanut butter, mince, chopped vegetables, kibble or wet food in there and freeze it. This can keep them occupied for hours – and is far more effective than the standard peanut-butter-in-a-kong trick which they’ll finish in about 30 seconds.

4. Hide-and-Seek

Hide and seek and chasey are great games which engage your dog mentally and physically. Play them around the house and reward your dog for finding/catching you!

5. Tug of War

Most dogs love this game! It’s great for building muscle, provided you’ve got durable toys that are up for the challenge!

6. Make an Agility Course

You can do this with basic household items. Use laundry baskets, drape chairs across the corridor and use them as a jump, get your dog to weave around the mop and the broom handles, direct your dog to jump on and off the ottoman – mix it up and get creative!

7. Treadmill

This one’s a bit left and centre but if you’ve got a treadmill at home, did you know your dog can use it too? Start off small, keep the speed low and praise them as they go. While not a long-term substitute for walks, it’s a great way for your dog to get a full workout when the weather cannot be relied upon!

FAQs on Exercise for Dogs

How much exercise does my dog need?

It depends on the dog! Most dogs need at least an hour of exercise a day, though smaller breeds need less and working dogs should have more. Read our guide on exercise by breed type, and discuss with your vet what’s right for your dog if you’re unsure.

Is a one hour walk enough for a dog?

While it depends on the dog, most dogs can make do with one hour of physical activity per day so long as that exercise is coupled with play at home and mental stimulation.

What are some dog playground ideas?

If you’re keen to set up an enrichment area at home, there are plenty of ready-made accessories you can use like paddle pools (fill them with plastic balls to make a ball pit in winter) and sprinklers in summer. Dogs also love sand, and if you’re handy you could even make a see-saw. Mix it up and get creative!

What are some dog exercise toys?

We have countless dog exercise toys at PETstock! From durable toys for tug of war, to toys for fetch and interactive toys for brain games – PETstock has it all. Shop dog toys here.

Mind Games

Need to stimulate your dog mentally? Try our brain games for dogs!

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