Walking your dog is one of the most important tasks as a loving pet parent. Besides being a nice bonding exercise with our dogs, it’s also a really important facet of your dog’s actual health. That being said, walks are not a “one size fits all” kind of situation. You will want to learn what your dog actually needs for walking frequency and even the type and length of walk that will benefit your dog.
Considerations for how often your dog needs to be walked
First, let’s tackle the main criteria for helping you understand just how often your dog should be walked for their health and overall happiness. There are quite a few factors that go into this, including the following:
Puppies, adults, and seniors all have different recommendations on the amount of walking that they should have per day. Puppies benefit from shorter, more frequent walks than adults. and seniors should have short and controlled walks to help protect their joints.
The size of your dog also is a factor. Large dogs can benefit more from long walks, and small dogs can benefit from shorter walks. And for how often your dog can walk, that’s for discussion a bit later.
Your dog’s health is also an important factor to keep in mind when timing walks. Simply put: healthy dogs can walk longer than unhealthy dogs, whether due to age-related conditions or recovery from an injury or illness.
Finally, your dog’s breed is a factor in helping you decide on how often to walk your dog! Some dogs, like Border Collies, should get a lot of exercise per day. Other dogs, like French Bulldogs, are lower energy and don’t necessarily need the same amount of exercise!
How do I know how long to walk my dog?
This is all good information, sure, but how do you actually put that into a concrete number when timing your dog’s walks? Most experts suggest trying to walk your dog for 10-15 minutes at a time and watching to see how they react. If one walk seems to be enough per day, then you can just keep it at that.
If you still want to walk your dog longer, you can try adding in another 10-15 minute walk at the opposite time of day! For example, morning and evening or afternoon and evening.
If you are unsure given your dog’s health status, you’ll find it best to ask your vet about what you should aim for. Your vet will be familiar with your dog’s personal medical history, and they also are professionals when it comes to recommendations for dogs in general!
What else should I think about for walking my dog?
Other than the amount of time for the walk, you can focus on a few other details to help you make your daily dog walks a normal part of your realistic schedule! Some of the factors include:
- Your dog’s natural energy levels: As we talked about earlier, some dogs have a higher demand than others for energy output. For your dog’s best interests, try to make time for extra walks if your dog needs them. Or, make them longer or shorter if you feel that your dog needs a different amount of time.
- Your schedule: Your availability is something to think about for keeping your dog on a consistent walking schedule. If you are available to walk him morning and night, this would be fantastic. But life gets busy, and things get in the way. You can consider getting another household member to help walk them when you’re at work, or you can look at potentially hiring a dog walker on the days when you’re not able to keep up with your dog’s needs.
- Walk frequency vs. length: If you aren’t available or your dog does like long walls, think about just taking your dog for more short walks instead of one long walk. Not only is that a great choice for their joints, but it also helps them stay active throughout the day rather than all at once!
- The weather: Often, dogs love to walk rain or shine. But you’ll want to keep in mind that the weather can force you to shorten your walks or even skip them together if it’s too extreme. You can still keep your dog active by walking them around inside your home and playing with them, training them or giving them enrichment such as a Kong or food puzzle!
How do I know if my dog is walking enough?
Since dogs haven’t learned how to talk to us (yet), we have to interpret their behavior to see how they’re enjoying things. If you want to know if your dog is walking enough, here are some common signs that they’re getting enough exercise:
- They snooze after their walk
- They aren’t hyper or destructive
- They aren’t gaining weight
- They aren’t following you around for attention
These are all signs that could mean your dog is happy and enjoying their walks, and you can keep doing what you’re doing. If your dog is the opposite to these, however, you can consider lengthening the walks and/or adding more walks throughout the day to help them meet their needed exercise quota.
What are the benefits of walking my dog?
Did you know that there are actual health benefits to walking your dog other than just releasing their pent up energy? Walking your dog every day, or as often as your vet recommends, can help:
- Better their cardio health (and yours!)
- Promote better muscle and bone strength
- Socialize and show them better interaction with other humans and pets
- Decrease stress and anxiety (especially separation anxiety)
- Promote a stronger bond between you and your dog
- Help synchronize your schedule with theirs
Regardless of how you look at it, walking your dog is a great activity for their health, socialization, and overall relationship with you and the rest of the household. This guide will help you set up the best walking schedule with your furry family member and give them the best chances at enjoying all of its benefits!