Small brown dog walking on sidewalk looking over shoulder at the camera.

Exercise for dogs is essential.

When it comes to keeping our canine companions healthy and happy, exercise plays a critical role. However, the amount of exercise a dog needs varies greatly depending on several factors, such as age, size, breed, and overall health. In this blog post, we’ll look at the importance of exercise for dogs and provide guidance to determine the appropriate amount of physical activity for your dog.

Why Exercise for Dogs is Essential

Exercise is incredibly important for dogs for many reasons, not only for their physical well-being, but also for their mental health. Here are some key benefits of regular exercise for dogs:

1. Weight management:

Regular exercise helps maintain a healthy body weight, reducing the risk of obesity and associated health issues like diabetes, joint problems, and cardiovascular disease.

2. Muscle and joint health:

Physical activity strengthens muscles, lubricates joints, and improves overall mobility, reducing the risk of conditions such as arthritis.

3. Cardiovascular health:

Exercise promotes a healthy heart and lungs, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and improving overall endurance.

4. Digestive health:

Regular movement helps stimulate digestion and promotes regular bowel movements (does your dog get the zoomies before they poop?), reducing the risk of constipation and other gastrointestinal issues.

5. Mental stimulation:

Exercise provides mental stimulation and helps alleviate boredom, reducing the likelihood of destructive behaviors or anxiety. Walks in the neighborhood or novel environments encourage sniffing, which is relaxing for dogs.

Factors Affecting a Dog’s Exercise Needs

To determine how much exercise your dog needs, consider the following factors:

1. Age:

Puppies and senior dogs have different exercise requirements compared to adult dogs. Puppies need shorter, more frequent exercise sessions to avoid overtaxing their growing bodies, while senior dogs may have reduced stamina or stiff joints, and require lower-impact activities.

2. Breed:

Different dog breeds have varying exercise needs based on the purpose they were bred for and physical characteristics. For example, herding breeds like Border Collies and Australian Shepherds require more physical and mental stimulation than breeds like Bulldogs or Basset Hounds.

3. Size:

Generally, larger breeds have greater exercise needs than smaller breeds due to their higher energy levels and larger physical build.

4. Health status:

Dogs with underlying health conditions, such as heart disease, arthritis, or respiratory issues, may have specific exercise limitations and requirements. Always consult with your veterinarian to determine an appropriate exercise plan for dogs with health concerns.

Guidelines for Exercise Duration and Intensity

While individual exercise needs may vary, here are some general guidelines based on age and breed:

1. Puppies (under 1 year):

Aim for 5 minutes of exercise per month of age, twice daily. For example, a 3-month-old puppy should have about 15 minutes of exercise twice a day.

2. Adult dogs (1-7 years):

  • Low-energy breeds (e.g., Bulldogs, Greyhounds): 30 minutes to 1 hour per day
  • Moderate-energy breeds (e.g., Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers): 1-2 hours per day
  • High-energy breeds (e.g., Australian Shepherds, Border Collies): 2+ hours per day

3. Senior dogs (7+ years):

Exercise needs may decrease with age, but it’s important to maintain regular, low-impact activities like walking or swimming to prevent muscle atrophy and maintain joint health.

It’s essential to monitor your dog’s response to exercise and adjust the duration and intensity accordingly. Signs of overexertion include excessive panting, difficulty breathing, or reluctance to continue the activity.

Types of Exercise for Dogs

Exercise for dogs can take various forms, depending on your pet’s preferences and physical abilities. Some popular options include:

1. Walking:

Regular walks are a great way to provide both physical exercise and mental stimulation for dogs of all ages and sizes. If your don’t have the time to walk your dog, a dog walker is a great alternative. Find out what makes a great dog walker here.

2. Running or jogging:

For high-energy dogs, running or jogging can be an excellent way to burn off excess energy and maintain cardiovascular health. However, be sure to build up endurance gradually and avoid exercising during extreme weather conditions.

3. Fetch or frisbee:

Playing fetch or frisbee is a fun and interactive way to exercise your dog while also strengthening your bond.

4. Swimming:

Swimming is a low-impact, full-body workout that is especially beneficial for dogs with joint issues or those recovering from injuries.

5. Agility or obedience training:

Engaging in structured activities like agility courses or obedience training provides both physical and mental stimulation for dogs.

6. Dog sports:

Participating in dog sports like flyball, dock diving, or herding trials can be an enjoyable way to channel your dog’s energy and natural instincts.

Regardless of the type of exercise you choose, always prioritize your dog’s safety and comfort. Provide access to fresh water, take breaks as needed, and be mindful of weather conditions to prevent heat exhaustion or hypothermia.


Providing your dog with adequate exercise is essential for their overall health, happiness, and well-being. By considering factors such as age, breed, size, and health status, you can develop an exercise plan tailored to your dog’s specific needs. Regular physical activity not only promotes physical fitness, but also mental fitness.

Remember to start slowly and gradually increase the duration and intensity of exercise, especially for puppies, senior dogs, or those with health concerns. Always consult with your veterinarian if you have any questions or concerns about your dog’s exercise needs or limitations.

By prioritizing your dog’s exercise needs and engaging in enjoyable physical activities together, you can help ensure that your furry friend lives a long, healthy, and fulfilling life by your side.