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20 Apr How much exercise does my dog need?

Whether your dog is a Border Collie or a Bichon Frise, all dogs need regular, quality exercise in order to stay fit and healthy.

Without exercise dogs can quickly put on weight, leading to health issues like obesity and joint problems. A lack of exercise can also affect your dog’s behaviour – a dog who doesn’t get the chance to expend their boundless energy will develop destructive tendencies like excessive barking, digging holes or chewing your belongings.

But just how much exercise does your dog need? 

The amount of exercise your dog needs is dependent on a number of factors, such as their age, breed, general health and nutrition. When determining a daily exercise goal, it’s important that you take this into consideration so that you don’t end up under- or over-exercising your pooch.

Breed

Your dog’s breed is, predictably, one of the biggest factors affecting the amount of exercise they need. 

However, it’s not always as straightforward as saying large dogs need more exercise than small dogs – for example, there are plenty of terriers who need more exercise than their larger counterparts.

A better way to determine how much exercise your dog should be getting is to look to their heritage. For example, dogs bred for working may have high energy levels and require far more exercise than a dog bred as a lapdog.

With so many breeds out there, the easiest way to find out how much exercise a specific breed needs is to use the free PitPat app. Just set up your dog’s profile, enter their information and we’ll give you a tailored recommendation.

Age

Age plays a huge role in your dog’s exercise needs. Puppies and senior dogs will need less exercise than healthy adult dogs. It’ll be important for you to adjust your dog’s activity levels as they age.

Two yellow Labradors in the forest

Exercise for Puppies

Broadly, puppies need gentle exercise that increases as they age. Too much and they risk joint damage, too little and they’ll be missing out on vital exercise and socialisation.

The rule of thumb is 5 minutes of exercise per month of age. After they’ve reached their first birthday, you can treat them as an adult dog with respect to the amount to exercise they will need. If you use a PitPat dog activity monitor, we’ll automatically adjust your puppies exercise goal as they grow so it’s easy to keep track. Find out more about how much exercise your puppy needs.

Exercise for Older Dogs

As your dog ages they will naturally slow down, so it’s up to you to ensure they don’t overexert themselves. The age and rate at which your dog slows down can vary massively between breeds. Larger breeds which tend to have a shorter lifespan will start to show the physical signs of aging at just eight years old, whereas smaller breeds with longer lifespans have the potential to stay active into their teens.

That said, the age at which you start reducing your dog’s activity is still very much down to the individual dog and their general health.

As they age, watch your dog for signs that their existing exercise levels are too much. If they can’t keep up with you anymore, seem reluctant to go out for walks, get out of breathe easily, appear stiff and stop regularly, it may be time to cut down their exercise levels, and swap to short, frequent walks.

Health

Throughout their life your dog’s general health is going to vary and affect their exercise needs on a day-to-day basis.

Short-Term Health Issues

It’s likely that your pooch will experience various short-term health issues that mean their exercise needs to be restricted for a period of time. This can include things like operations, fractures or sprains or even pregnancy. Your vet is always the best person to advise on how much exercise you should give your dog, and how to build back up to normal.

It’s always useful to have a PitPat dog activity monitor to track their activity and regulate it as needed for those times when your dog is going through rehabilitation. Find out how Gill and Bryn used PitPat when Bryn sprained his paw.

Long-Term Health Issues

Some dogs will experience long-term health issues – that is, issues that they are born with or develop at some point in their life that will continue to affect them for the rest of their life.

This can include things like diabetes, joint issues, genetic diseases and more. Depending on the type problem and its severity, it can have a significant effect on your dog’s exercise needs. 

It’s worth noting that some dogs affected by long-term health issues may not be able to participate in traditional walks but still need alternative exercise to keep them fit and healthy. For example, a dog with severe hip dysplasia that struggles to run may benefit from swimming sessions instead.

Nutrition

You should always pay close attention to your dog’s diet. It stands to reason that dogs with lower fitness and activity levels need fewer calories than those who are participating in extended, high intensity exercise.

If your dog’s daily exercise changes you should expect to adjust their diet as well. You can use the calories burned feature in the PitPat app to calculate by how much you should adjust their food.

This can be particularly useful for underweight dogs who require bigger portions after active days, just like Helen and Lily, who found PitPat an effective tool for bringing Lily up to a healthy weight.

How to track your dog’s exercise

Setting a daily exercise goal is one thing, keeping track of it is an entirely different story.

That’s where PitPat comes in. Our light and robust dog activity monitor is made for dogs – it’s fully waterproof and built to withstand their active lifestyle – it’s like a Fitbit. Just pop one on your dog’s collar and download the app to get started.

We’ll recommend an activity goal for your pooch in the app, based on the information you tell us about them. Then, you can adjust the goal as required. Follow the steps to sync your PitPat with the app and hey presto – you’ll have your dog’s activity data at your fingertips.

PitPat app with Duck Toller Retriever in the background

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