I’m always wondering if I’m exercising my dogs enough. Whether we’re running or playing, it seems they recover within 10 min of any activity, so I’m always wondering if they need more.
I have two dogs, and they could not be more dissimilar. Even though they are both border collie-X my little boy is always rearing to go, but my little girl loses interest really fast. She enjoys her walks, but then just wants to go and find a hole in the garden to relax in the for the day.
We do daily walks of between 25-40min and they definitely seem happier when it is on the longer side. My little boy also gets playtime during the course of the day, or as I call it “Shiva-time”. And I try to vary the games every day as well.
Different Types of Dogs Need Different Amounts of Exercise
A general rule of thumb when it comes to exercise for your dog is that they need about 30min – 2 hours of exercise daily, but some breeds require a more active lifestyles than others. Also puppies require far less exercise than adult dogs, so be sure to ask your vet about your particular case if you’re unsure.
Your dog’s health is also important. If your adult dog has a medical condition, such as hip dysplasia or heart or respiratory issues or is even a little overweight, do refer to your vet for the best solutions for you.
Taking your dog for a walk around the block is a great start, and it might be enough for breeds with lower exercise requirements. Even couch potatoes, like my little girl, Shakti, appreciate variety every once in a while!
During our Level 5 lockdown in South Africa we were not allowed to even walk outside or take our dogs for walks for over a month! This was very frustrating to my dogs who were used to their daily walking routine. Once we were able to walk again, we were all a little unfit.
I eased back in to their routine. A walk around the block (25min) was more than enough for all of us with my dogs (and myself) being tired. I gradually increased this and now they are relatively tired after a 40min walk. I must admit that I naturally walk quite briskly, but we do stop for any sniffs along the way.
So far, what I’ve seen is that the best advice is to see how your dogs go. Start slow and if you can see they are panting, that might be enough as start. Gradually increase the time/distance incrementally, and keep an eye on their breathing. If they’re starting to pant, it’s probably a good idea to start winding down the activity.I’m also quite lucky that my two enjoy playing with each other too. Although typically one (Shiva) does all the work while the other (Shakti) stands around watching 😛
All of these moments add up to their daily exercise quota, and it is not just the walking that counts.
Not All Exercise is Physical
Dogs also love being mentally stimulated. As with humans, dogs can get bored quickly – especially if they are a working breed. It is important to give them stuff to do during the day to help ease off any boredom.
During the pandemic lockdown, or when it’s raining outside, I also increase mental activity games with them. There are so many games you can play with your dog. Some involve food or treats, but not all need to include food rewards.
The toilet-roll foldover game , towel-fold food search (or snuffle-mat) and hide the treat (find-it) are my dogs’ favourite food related games. Then there is the hide-n-seek, puzzle games or indoor toy activities for non-food related boredom busters.
Independent activities (things they can do by themselves) to keep them enriched and entertained also include filling some hooves with their favourite treat or dog friendly peanut butter, or frozen kongs. These could keep them busy for 20min easily, afterwhich they usually take a little nap.
In addition to the games, training can also be turned into a game in itself. Small daily training sessions (sit, stay, lie down, etc) will also count as additional enrichment.
Signs You’re Not Exercising Enough
Even though there is no hard and fast rules for how much exercise your dog needs, one will quickly be able to ascertain whether you’re doing enough.
Some of the tell-tale signs include digging in the garden, barking (at nothing) and destructive behaviour. If you see any of these signs, you might want to add some additional exercise such as walking or mental games into your daily routine and see if the behaviour alleviates.
Exercising with your dog should be fun! It’s a fundamental activity of dog companionship, and one of the best ways to maintain their emotional, mental, and physical health.
What are some of the ways you enjoy getting active with your furkid? Tell us in the comments!