Exercising your dog is good for many reasons; it helps with physical and mental health and can also reduce unwanted behaviors like chewing furniture from bored or anxious pups. With so many different breeds, ages and sizes of dogs out there, how do you know the right amount for your canine?
For a general guideline, we’ve divided the amount of exercise for specific dogs by their classes.
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The sporting canine group consists of pointers, retrievers, setters and spaniels, a popular breed of this group is the Labrador Retriever. These dogs were originally bred for a long day of work, historically many of them have been used as hunting companions for years. These breeds are naturally alert and active and require regular invigorating exercise.
Lauren of @palmettomoonpointers and her Pointer, Sutton, know about the mandatory exercise these breeds require. “They are quick, agile, smart, can climb most everything (Sutton loves to climb trees!) and they have the endurance of a train! But along with their extensive physical exercise needs, they require a lot of mental exercise to tire them out (most won’t tire even after a long off leash hike!). Short trick training throughout your day will help keep your sanity with a pointer! “
It is recommended that these pups get at least 1 to 2 hours of daily exercise that is moderate in intensity. If you are looking for ways to keep these breeds active, they will thrive in anything fetch related activity, such as sports like Dock Dog and Disc dog. They will also make great running or biking partners, and using dog running gear can make the workout more enjoyable for both parties.
Many breeds fit into this group as the smallest pup, the Chihuahua, can weigh less than 6 pounds, whereas the pug is usually the largest and stockiest of this group weighing at above 20 pounds. Despite being bred to be lap dogs, these little pups still require more exercise than most people think as some like pugs are especially prone to obesity.
Due to their small size, they can be exercised inside a house or apartment with a game of fetch followed by a quick walk. These breeds love chasing and retrieving toys. Intelligent and loyal, these dogs are great at learning tricks and could even excel in obedience and agility competitions.
This canine class consists of a variety of dogs including, but not limited to, Siberian Huskies, the Saint Bernard, Rottweilers, Boxers, Doberman Pinschers and Bullmastiffs. Historically, these pups have roots as farm and draft dogs, where they would literally be pulling weight from their owners. Powerful intelligent, focused and headstrong, these breeds can be difficult for first time owners but perform great when physically and mentally occupied. Many of these breeds can be found functioning as farm, military, police and service dogs.
Activities that will keep these dogs healthy and their minds occupied include, Skijoring, cart pulling, and even wearing backpacks on intense hikes. These breeds do best at longer, steady activities like hiking, as opposed to faster sprints or running road races. These breeds are also great at hiking rough terrain, something that PJ and his Pitbull, Clove, of @TheBullHikes know a lot about as they spend much of their time hiking across the country! “Hiking is our number one outlet. Whether it’s a 20-mile alpine traverse or something short but rigorous, getting her outdoors to smell all the smells and run free rules all. I think the mental experience for a trail dog keeps them young and sharp. Not just the physical. Even as she’s gotten older, she’s only further excelled handling tricky hiking sections and terrain. As the years pass she needs less help figuring out obstacles and is more apt to take the lead up climbs. She’s constantly learning and evolving. To me that trumps all.”
This is a newly created group as most members of it were once in the Working group, but contains some very popular breeds like the German shepherd. Other breeds include sheepdogs, collies, shepherds and even Corgis can control movement of other animals like herding cows for instance. These dogs need to be mentally and physically challenged due to their high intelligence and energy. These dogs have a higher risk of behavior problems if they become bored.
It’s recommended that these pups get at least 60-90-minutes of higher intensity exercise each day. Due to their intelligence, it is important to keep the exercise routines fresh and interesting and to work in mental games like hide and seek. These dogs would do well in agility competitions and in sports like canine musical freestyle; which is a mixture of obedience training, dancing and tricks.
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This group includes dogs like the Airedale terrier, Bull terrier, Cairn terrier, Staffordshire terrier and Welsh terrier. These friendly and energetic pups were originally bred to sniff and dig out prey. Despite being smaller than other groups, these dogs should get a 30 to 60 minutes moderate walk each day.
Due to their natural instincts, these dogs love to play hide and seek for treats and will do well in sports like Earthdog; an activity where pups navigate tunnels constructed through the earth to find their prey.
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The original hunting dogs, the Hound Group is comprised of two types of hounds-the sight and the scent hounds. The sight hounds include pups like Greyhounds, Wolfhounds, Deerhounds; have lower exercise needs. A 20 to 30 minute walk each day along with a few harder sprint workouts later in the week will suffice for these dogs. Scent hounds like Beagles, Coonhounds and Bloodhounds have higher exercise needs, like the Sporting Group, a 60-minute exercise daily is recommended for these dogs.
In addition to hunting, Lure Chasing is another activity these dogs will enjoy. Lure Chasing is a sport that involves your pup chasing a mechanically drawn lure.
This group of dogs ranges in personality and appearance, as it contains pups like The Poodle, French Bulldog, Bichon Frise and the Dalmatian. Dogs like the Bulldog will require less intense exercise than the Poodle who is a natural athlete and would thrive in competitions like agility. This group is such a large variety as they do not fit in with any other group. Because of this, it is best to base your dog’s exercise needs based on which group they are the most similar with, energy wise.
Activities for All Dogs
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The ever-popular go-to game of fetch is a great way to exercise your dog. To add a twist on this game you can use Kurgo Skipping Stones to see how many times you can skip the toy on the water before your dog gets to it. Using a racket with a toy like the Backyard Birdie will give your pup even more of a workout and keep the game fun for both of you!
Repetitive impact while exercising can be harmful for you pup, so swimming is a great way to get the benefits of working out without the dangers. While most dogs love water, swimming can be taxing, so it is best to increase these water workouts gradually, starting off with 1-2 minutes. Your dog may be a great swimmer but since this is a strenuous activity, it may be a good idea to start with a Dog Life Vest if far from the shore. Swimming is a great way to build and maintain muscle mass with older dogs with arthritis or joint disease.
What to Watch Out For
While it is important to regularly exercise your dog for its better wellbeing and to avoid any unwanted behavioral issues, there are a few things to watch out for.
Exercising Young Dogs
According to Dr. Brenton Gwinn of the Palmetto Veterinary and Medicine, you need to be careful when exercising your puppy. “The key is moderation. The number one cause of growth plate and soft tissue injuries is repetitive exercise with a young puppy, so leave your leash and running shoes at home until your pup is at least 18 months, when their growth plates have had the chance to close. Short, strolling & rambling stop and sniff walks are great for puppies and great for socialization, but be prepared to leave your pups at home for long hikes (unless you’re willing to stick them in a backpack!)”
Brachycephalic dogs are pups with a squashed face like a Bulldog or Pug and are not meant for long distance running. Due to their shortened muzzle and wrinkled face as it impedes airflow, these dogs are at risk for oxygen deprivation and overheating. Avoid exercising these pups in humid weather or during mid-day heat. It is also important to allow frequent breaks for cooling down.
It is important to consider the weather before exercising your pup no matter the breed. Just like humans, pets can be victims of frostbite or heat stroke, even more so since they do not sweat.
It should be noted that after exercising it may be hard for your dog to calm down. It can be difficult for them to switch gears and be calm right after their workout. If you encounter this issue, leave your pup alone either openly or confined to a crate. This will allow your four-legged friend time to transition.
Thanks to Kaitlyn Manktelow for this guest post. Manktelow is a writer and videographer for Kurgo, a dog travel and outdoor products company. She enjoys filming, traveling, and singing way too loud with her rescue dog Samuel Jackson.