How Often Should You Walk Your Dog? (A Definitive Guide)
There's no specific answer to how often you should walk your dog. However, it ranges from one to three times a day. It also matters how long each walk is. You may be required to walk your dog multiple times a day if you do short walks. Ideally, all dogs should get some daily exercise ranging between 30 minutes to two hours depending on the breed, size, age, among other factors.
Before we get into detail, let's discuss why it's important.
Why Should You Walk Your Dog?
There are many reasons for walking a dog. The most notable include:
I. Exercise Benefits
32% of American dog owners walk their dogs primarily for exercise, according to the AKC. Dogs benefit from exercise as much, if not more than humans. Your dog needs regular exercise to tone body muscles, boost joint health, and keep the metabolic and body systems working optimally. Exercise boosts the overall health of your dog. It is particularly helpful in avoiding obesity among dogs with weight problems. Dog walking can also help your dog prevent health problems like arthritis. You (the dog owner) also stand to enjoy exercise benefits from walking your own dog.
II. Manage Boredom
Like humans, dogs can become destructive when they are bored. In fact, most dogs that exhibit destructive behaviors like excessive barking, whining, chewing furniture, etc., do so because they are bored. Since most dog owners restrict their dog's movement for obvious reasons, some time out is critical for managing your dog's boredom. Exercise is a perfect opportunity to tone your dog's muscles as well as manage their boredom.
III. Mental Stimulation
Walking your dog can also help in stimulating their brain. Bestial boredom has been linked to mental problems in dogs, such as brain shrinkage. This makes walking among the list of activities critical for your dog’s mental health.
IV. Digestive And Urinary Health Benefits
Dogs take multiple potty breaks during walks. This makes dog walking an important activity for your dog’s digestive and urinary health.
How Important Is It To Walk Your Dog?
From the dog walking benefits discussed above, it’s clear why you need to walk your dog often. Your dog stands to lose a lot of health and mental benefits if you don’t walk him/her.
Do I Need To Walk My Dog Every Day? How Often Should I Walk My Dog?
The number of times you are supposed to walk your dog will vary depending on many factors. The most notable include:
i. Dog Breed
Some dog breeds need more walks than others. For instance, working or sporting dog breeds like German Shepherds, Collies and Pointers need more exercise than lapdogs like Papillions and Yorkshire Terriers. These smaller breeds may only require a single walk a day. In fact, working dogs will be more inclined to intense exercise than their counterparts. The need for exercise is ingrained in their genes.
Besides exercise, younger dogs will need more exercise than older dogs. The same is true for humans. As dog's age, the amount of exercise needs to decrease. Younger dogs tend to have more energy than their older counterparts. Dogs below 5 years of age need more exercise than dogs aged 5 to 8 years. Senior dogs aged 9 and above need the least exercise. Such dogs are least likely to be found playing around. However, there are exceptions to consider. It is possible for older dogs to have more energy needs than younger dogs because of factors like disease. A young diabetic dog or one with arthritis or other diseases like muscle atrophy may not be as active as an older healthy counterpart.
Your dog’s tolerance to exercise also determines their need for exercise. Most dogs have no problem walking for 20 to 30 minutes daily. However, dogs that have great physical health can tolerate exercise or walks as long as 2 hours. Some factors like obesity compromise tolerance. An obese or overweight dog may not be able to walk more than 10 minutes daily without panting heavily or taking multiple breaks.
You can judge your dog's tolerance based on their energy levels during exercise. If they are still energetic after a 30 minutes' walk, they can go longer. Like humans, dog's exhibit signs of tiredness like a slower pace, frequent stops, and panting. If your dog gets home after a 30-minute walk and takes a long nap without moving for hours, he/she probably over-exercised. Other signs to look consider include limping after long walks. If your dog exhibits such signs, consider shorter walks next time or visiting a vet in case of serious problems.
The CDC recommends at least half an hour of dog walking every weekday translating to 150 minutes or more of walking per week. However, your schedule as a dog owner may determine how often you walk your dog. If you don't have a dog walker, you should focus on walking your dog at least 10 to 15 minutes daily at a minimum. You can also supplement dog walking with yard exercises or games like fetch that engages your dog physically.
v. Living Conditions
Dogs that live in confined spaces need more exercise compared to their counterparts that are free to move around. A large backyard may offer your dog ample space to exercise, eliminating the need for daily walks. However, if you reside in an apartment, you need to be deliberate about walking your dog.
If you lack the time to walk your dog as per the recommendations or your dog's exercise needs, you can consider hiring a dog walker. Most dog owners may not have 30 minutes a day to walk their dogs yet daily walks are critical for your dog's well-being. What if your dog has special activity needs you can't meet? If that's the case, a dog walker or dog walking service will come in handy.
How Do You Get A Professional Dog Walker?
If you need help finding a trusted dog walker or professional dog walker, you can find dog walkers online on websites like Rover.com. The website has a detailed searching tool that allows you to find walkers within your area to walk your dog, house your dog, offer drop-in visits, and much more depending on factors like dog breed. Rover has trusted dog sitters and walkers who treat dogs like family. The site also links dog owners to other services like dog day care and offers tech that connects dog owners to walkers anywhere.
To find out how much dog walkers charge, here’s a detailed guide on the cost of professional dog walkers depending on many variable from number of walks, to add-ons and type of rate.
What’s The Best Time To Walk A Dog?
While your schedule may stand in the way of walking your dog as much as you should, you can always adjust your schedule. Since dogs use walks as opportunities to take potty breaks, the importance of morning and evening walks can’t be overlooked.
The recommended 30 minutes a day can be divided between morning and evening walks. If possible, you can walk your dog at midday or have a family member do it. Dogs thrive on routines. Giving him walks at specific times of the day will help him structure his potty breaks accordingly.
Recommended Dog Walking Schedule According To A VET
Veterinarian Dr. Michael Fox gives the perfect dog walking schedule. According to Dr. Fox, you should give your dog a short morning walk before breakfast and another short walk after midday. This should be followed by a long walk before dinner and a short walk before bed. These dog walking routine suits a healthy dog's eating, exercising, and evacuation needs.
How Far Should I Walk My Dog?
While the number of calories burned during physical activity is dependent mostly on time spent doing that exercise, distance also matters. The distance you should cover when walking your dog depends on many factors ranging from pace to terrain. If you are walking slowly, you should cover more distance. Short walks are ideal for rough or steep terrain since your dog will do more work.
The size of your dog also matters. Larger dogs burn more calories than their smaller counterparts over the same distance. While anything above a mile is enough on a daily basis, dogs that need more exercise can be walked up to ten miles or more.
How Long Should I Walk My Puppy?
Puppies shouldn't be subjected to long walks until they are grown. Ideally, dog owners should be guided by their puppy's pace. The focus should also be more on time taken walking rather than the distance covered.
How Long Should I Have Wait To Walk My Dog After Feeding Him?
According to Veterinarian Dr. Fox, you should walk your dog in the morning before breakfast and before dinner. Walks after food should be short and mainly structured as potty breaks for your dog.
What Sports Can I Play With My Dog?
Besides walks, there are many other physical activities you can engage your dog. Walking is a good low-impact exercise for dogs. If you want moderate exercise, you can consider jogging, hiking, or playing fetch. If you have a working dog that will benefit from strenuous exercise, you can consider hiking in the hills, running, swimming, agility training, or playing more intense dog exercise games like fetch. For dog owners who want to stimulate their dogs mentally, you can do training exercises, scent training, agility training, or puzzle games.
You can get your dog to do more exercise by attaching a backpack on his/her back or pulling him back using a leash during walks.
It depends! Factors like a dog’s age, breed, health, tolerance, and living conditions all have a role to play when deciding the right frequency of dog walks. Older dogs need less exercise than their younger counterparts. The same applies to lap dogs as well as dogs with a low tolerance for exercise. It's also not advisable to strain your dog with walks if they have health problems like arthritis.
However, dog walking recommendations vary. Some old dogs may need more exercise than younger dogs of a different breed. It’s therefore advisable to consider specifics starting with your dog breed. When everything else fails, you can take clues from your dog. If he/she is too energetic, he/she probably needs more walking and exercise.
You can also consult a vet to get specific advice i.e., when your dog has health problems.
Leave a comment below we would love to hear what age, breed, and the number of regular walks you take your dog on each day!
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