Dogs need anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours of daily exercise. How you spend that time will differ for each dog. Plenty of pups wear themselves out with two 15-minute walks each day. More active dogs might come back home still bursting with energy. Every dog needs a daily walk, but some need a lot more than that.
Here’s how to tell when your dog needs more exercise along with some high-intensity activities to try.
Signs your dog needs more than a walk
- They’re overweight or obese: Obesity is an epidemic affecting millions of dogs. In most cases, dogs become overweight for two reasons: they get too much food and too little exercise. If your pup needs to shed some weight, adding more exercise to their daily routine is a good place to start. Talk to a vet about whether you should adjust the dog’s portion sizes or switch to a healthier diet.
- They’re an energetic breed: Your dog’s breed will offer a lot of insight about their exercise requirements. Many have ancestors that were bred to herd sheep or keep watch over the owner’s property. Dogs have a hard time staying cooped up all day when working hard is in their blood! Active breeds require several walks a day in addition to rigorous aerobic workouts.
- They beg for play time: You can tell a dog has pent-up energy when they drop a tennis ball at your feet. Pet parents have seen it before—the dog presents their favorite toys and looks at you with expectant eyes. Your pup is no doubt telling you they need more exercise! Dogs usually display this behavior in the evening because they had no one to play with while the family was at work or school.
- They tear up your house: Dogs always find a way to burn energy, which often results in destructive behaviors around the house. A pup that doesn’t get enough exercise will dig through trash bins, rip open couch cushions or eat random objects. Bad behavior is a sign your pup’s basic needs aren’t being met, and one of those is adequate exercise. Play time provides a positive outlet for all that energy.
- They’re restless at night: Regular exercise helps people sleep better, and the same is true for our furry companions. Dogs that don’t get enough exercise might pace around at night or keep you up with their barking. Dogs have the same circadian rhythm as humans, meaning they’re active during the day and sleep at night. If they have trouble falling asleep, a lack of exercise could be the reason why.
Rigorous activities for energetic pups
Dogs who show one or more signs of lacking exercise would benefit from additional play time in their day. Take your dog’s workout regimen to the next level with these high-intensity exercises.
- Skiing, skateboarding or rollerblading: Each of these activities is like going for a walk, except your dog is putting in more work! By pulling you along, the dog can burn more energy in a shorter amount of time. Keep in mind these exercises aren’t for every pup. Your dog should be big enough to comfortably haul your weight for an extended period of time. If your dog has joint issues, this isn’t the activity for them.
- Tug-of-war: Tugging on a rope will wear out your pup in short order. The game requires dogs to use bursts of high energy, which is much more tiring than a slow amble around the block. After a minute of tugging back and forth, command your dog to drop the toy. Interspersing tug-of-war with basic commands has the added benefit of teaching discipline in situations that get your dog riled up.
- Agility courses: This activity combines aerobic exercise with mental stimulation. Intelligent breeds require drills that work their mind just as much as their body. Dogs bred to work will welcome the chance to jump over hurdles and crawl through tunnels. You can set up a simple agility course in the back yard with cones and other obstacles. If you don’t have private yard space, visit your local park and train the dog to jump through a hula hoop. Some dog parks even have agility courses set up.
Many pups are content with their daily 30-minute walk. Other breeds have greater activity requirements that go beyond a couple laps around the neighborhood. The amount of time you put into exercise each day depends on your dog. A quick bathroom break might be enough for toy breeds, but energetic pups need multiple walks, training sessions, play time and maybe a long bike ride. Experiment with a few different activities until you find what works for your pup.