Dogs are naturally active and we all know that you have to feed them, play with them, love them and take them to the vet, but what about walking with them?
It seems so simple and silly to think about, but obesity is a real problem with dogs, so exercising them and going on regular walks is extremely beneficial. But that brings up the question of how often should you even be walking your dog?
This is a popular topic at the moment and getting our dogs into shape is crucial for their futures, so keep reading to find out how often you should walk your dog.
Walking Your Dog: The Factors
You should walk your dog about 2 to 4 times a day for about 15 minutes each. However, this can be affected by 3 factors:
Not only are these variables highly important but also carving out time in your personal schedule can complicate things as well. If you’re not able to go out on a quick walk, then maybe a friend, family member or trusted neighbor would be a good alternative.
Your Dog’s Breed
Your dog’s breed plays a huge role in determining what their energy levels are and how often they will tolerate walking. No matter the breed, still try to take them on walks at the pace that they can handle at the recommended 2-4 times daily.
I say, “at the pace they can handle” because certain dogs were intentionally bred to have a higher level of stamina and some dogs… well, not so much. At this point, after 20,000 years of domestication and selective breeding, not all dogs are built the same. That is quite obvious when you look at a Pug and a German Shepherd.
A pug will want to be active but struggle to keep up with most because of its skull shape and short nose, leading to difficulty breathing. Not saying that these dogs can’t go on plenty of daily walks or lead an active life, but you will have to be careful when exerting them too much, especially during the warmer and more humid months.
A German Shepherd, on the other hand, is a working dog that was bred to spend hours doing a job without stopping. These two dog breeds couldn’t be more different in activity levels.
Your Dog’s Age
We all hate to admit when we see our dog acting their age, especially when they’re older. Senior dogs are slowing down at this point in their lives and staying active can be difficult, especially when they have aching joints or other health conditions holding them back. Even if your dog is up there in age and obviously slowing down, continuing to go on 3 or 4 fifteen minute walks is extremely beneficial for them.
It is likely that you will have to change up your routine or even go from running to only walking with them. It is really about whatever they can handle without hurting themselves.
Your Dog’s Energy Levels
A dog’s energy level is frequently also determined by its age and breed. This factor is extremely important, as active breeds should not be deprived of the opportunity to run and burn some energy. Many dogs truly require and crave the time to walk, run, play and sniff to their heart’s content.
If you have a dog that you think is lazy because they never seem interested in going on walks or doing much outside besides relieving themselves, then try getting them excited about venturing outside for an adventure. They may have forgotten how fun it was to smell the air and take a walk.
What Happens If I Don’t Walk My Dog Often Enough?
Not walking your dog enough can lead to obesity, joint and heart problems, boredom and destructiveness. All of these things can be potentially avoided if you put in the time and the effort to walk them a few times a day.
Obesity in Dogs
Obesity in dogs has greatly increased over the last decade in the US. Dogs. There has been a 108% increase from ten years ago in the number of obese dogs that live in American households today. Not only is this preventable with an appropriately portioned and balanced dog food, but just an hour of light exercise a day would keep most dogs in good shape.
According to VCA, obese dogs are at a higher risk of:
- Certain cancer types
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Joint problems
Sometimes obesity is also an indicator of a specific health issue called hypothyroidism. You will want to discuss testing with your veterinarian if you are suspicious that your dog is not losing weight because of hypothyroidism.
Boredom and Destructiveness in Dogs
Dogs that are not exercised often or taken on enough walks can eventually start showing signs of boredom and frustration by being naughty or destructive. Sometimes these dogs will display unwanted behaviors like aggression and anxiety because they are not exercising their bodies or their minds nearly as often as they should be.
Working and herding breed dogs seem to suffer from behavioral issues associated with not having enough exercise and mental stimulation. Usually, these behaviors manifest like anxiety, showing fear and aggression towards strangers, or only clinging to one owner in an unhealthy way.
Most of the time when these symptoms of anxiety and boredom are being seen, it will be recommended to spend more time exercising, going on walks and socializing.
How Do I Know If We’re Walking Too Much?
Believe it or not, walking TOO much can actually happen. Over-exerting is something that everyone will do at some point and our dogs aren’t the best at knowing when to stop, so naturally, they suffer from similar fatigue and minor injuries when they went a little too hard on the hike trail.
If you think that you’ve walked too much with your dog, this is probably because you’ve noticed one of the following few things during or after a walk.
- Excessive panting
- Laying down
If your dog is displaying one or more of the following signs before or after a walk or any activity, then you should check in with your vet to see if they feel an appointment should be made. If your dog appears to be in distress or is having difficulty breathing, then consider taking them into an emergency veterinary facility.
In the event that this happens to your dog and the vet says they just need to rest, then consider reintroducing shorter walks for the next few weeks (distance and duration). If they have a genuine orthopedic injury from being too active, then they should be completely rested without walks or activity for as long as the vet recommends.
How Often Should I Walk My Overweight Dog?
Dogs that are not in good physical shape because they are overweight or recovering from a health condition or surgery should start off with light exercise. While walking is certainly one of those exercises, these walks should be kept to about 10-minute intervals at the recommended 3 or 4 times daily.
If your dog seems to be doing well with that, then you can shoot for an extra five minutes after the first week or so. You don’t want to go overboard and cause an injury or respiratory distress in a dog that is out of shape.
Finding the Time For More Walks
Life is certainly difficult and finding time for extra things after a busy day of work and other responsibilities can make things pretty stressful. Starting that new routine will be a challenge, but carving out the time to take your beloved canine companion on some much-needed walks is a great opportunity for both of you to have some exercise, fresh air and important bonding moments.
In some situations, or even just occasionally, owners will ask a friend, family member, or even pay for a professional service to walk their dog for them. Some people may find this to be a hassle, but it’s always an option for those of us who are super busy or just need a little relief from time to time.
Final Thoughts on How Often Should I Walk My Dog
The average dog should go on about 2-4 walks a day, usually around 15 minutes each time. Most healthy dogs can handle around 45 minutes to an hour of exercise daily.
Some dogs need a little more walking time, whereas other dogs can spend most of their day on the couch and not seem to care.
The bottom line is just trying to encourage light activity on a regular basis to keep their joints limber and the body’s trim.