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How much exercise does your dog really need? With so much information from so many sources readily available, sometimes it can be hard to determine which information is the most accurate. 


This is especially true when determining how much exercise your dog needs. Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle for canines, but each dog requires a different amount. In fact, too much exercise can even be harmful for certain breeds. Use these tips to determine the right amount of exercise to keep your pup healthy and happy:

What Counts as “Exercise” for Dogs?

Dogs are much smaller than humans, so their physical activity needs differ from ours. Before determining how much exercise does your dog really need, familiarize yourself with some kinds of canine exercise. These include:


  • Walks
  • Playtime at the park
  • Hiking
  • Running
  • Swimming
  • Games like fetch, hide and seek, or tug
  • Obedience or agility training
  • Running up and down the stairs

Consider Your Dog’s Breed

While each dog is different, there are many characteristics that might be determined by breed. Active breeds like border collies, shepherds, heelers, and retrievers will need a lot of exercise to stay healthy and mentally focused. Smaller toy breeds like Pomeranians, Yorkies, and dachshunds will likely get enough physical activity from one or two shorter daily walks. Talk to your veterinarian about your dog’s breed and their exercise requirements.

Cater to Your Dog’s Life Stage

Puppies need more exercise than adult dogs, who need more exercise than senior dogs. Depending on your dog’s breed, he or she might be considered a puppy anywhere from 8 months to 2 years. The adult stage usually lasts about 6 or 7 years, with some smaller breeds extending to 10-12 years. Senior years typically start around age 7 for average dogs. Keeping up with regular wellness visits will help you determine the stage of life your dog is currently in to help you decide how much exercise he or she needs.

Use Caution with Brachycephalic Breeds

Brachycephalic breeds (short-nosed) cannot breathe as well as other dogs and might get overheated very easily. Introduce various forms of exercise slowly and add on a little bit at a time. As soon as your dog starts breathing heavily, you might want to pack it in for the day.  

Think About Health Conditions

Some physical conditions like arthritis can make it hard for your dog to exercise, but movement is still good for your pup. Talk to your veterinarian about your dog’s restrictions and how much exercise he or she needs. 

Calculate Your Dog’s Exercise Needs

This calculator from Rover can help you get a better idea of how much exercise your dog really needs. It factors in your dog’s age, breed, lifestyle, and weight to determine an amount of exercise. As always, you should consult your veterinarian with your results. They know your dog better than anyone, and they can tell you whether or not the number is a good target.


We hope our tips help you find the right answer to the question of how much exercise does your dog really need

Westarbor Animal Hospital wants to be your partner in all things veterinary care. From annual wellness visits to dental cleanings and nutritional counseling, we can help you keep your dog happy and healthy. To learn more about our services, please call (734) 769-5391.

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