How Much Exercise Do Dogs Need

How much exercise do puppies need?

The general advice for exercising puppies and adolescent dogs is no more than 5 minutes in any one session, per month of age.  Puppies love to investigate their home and garden, and in doing so, are naturally exercising.

Exercise does not always have to mean going for a long and exhaustive walk. Young dogs still have immature ligaments, so overstimulating them may have a negative impact on their physical health. Rest is when growth happens.

Strike A Happy Medium Between Exercising Your Dogs and Rest Time

How much exercise do adult dogs need?

The best practice for adult dogs’ exercise is to complete at least two interactive exercises or play (mental or physical) sessions a day. The right amount of exercise for your dog is dependent on the following:

  1. Age
  2. Health
  3. Physical Ability
  4. Breed

Take note of breed-specific information to understand what is an appropriate level for your dog. Athletic dogs are able to do much more than giant breeds. Breeds that have compromised physical abilities will also struggle with certain exercise activities, so you must bear this in mind.

Exercising senior dogs

Older dogs still need to exercise, as it helps keep them active, happy and enjoying life to the fullest. While it can take a little bit of readjustment and thought, it doesn’t need to be complicated.

As your dog slows down, walk at its pace. You may need to consider shortening walks and see how your dog adapts. It’s important to keep taking them on walks and keep them active, but it doesn’t have to be too strenuous or intense.

  • Senior dogs need gentle exercise
  • Longer, slower walks with plenty of time to sniff works well for older dogs
  • Swimming is a great exercise that puts less stress on joints
  • Walk on soft ground rather than tarmac
  • Plenty of variety in your walks will exercise your dog’s brain as well as their body

Best practice when exercising your dog

Walking your dog should be enjoyable for both of you, from the moment you pop your dog’s lead on. Here are three points to ensure this happens:

  • Take life slower and take your time on walks. When you are patient, your dog will also be patient. Your dog will mirror you, your emotions and calm demeanour.
  • Mix up your dog’s walk by switching locations and activities regularly. The same thing every day can become a bore for you and your dog. New places mean new smells for your dog, which is a bonus.
  • Have fun on-lead & off-lead. It is not true that dogs can only have fun off-lead, racing around agility and open fields. The truth is that if your dog is in the moment with you, then the fun is wherever you are and whatever you do together. This includes when you sit and rest at home.

Types of dog exercise

  1. Relaxed lead walks at a steady pace
  2. Off lead, chasing, hunting and playing
  3. Sniffy Time
how often do you walk your dog
Exercising dogs – play find and fetch or let them just be and sniff

“I love to be able to go for a walk and let the dogs simply sniff and gather information about who, what and when on the way. Stop and spend time in places where your dog can explore the undergrowth, dig, snort, roll and sniff.” Caroline Spencer

Great exercise activities & entertainment ideas for your dog

  • Weave Poles – These help with lead work and are ideal for ‘follow me’ exercises.
  • Trotting Poles & Balance Planks – Use these to improve your dog’s coordination, awareness, and balance.
  • Find a Hidden Toy – Helps your dog utilise their sense of smell. It helps them to learn about teamwork too.

You can also read up about more ideas of fun things to do with your dog.

Too much ball chasing can lead to a visually reactive dog. Ask your dog to find the toy instead. It will help to balance your dog out while allowing them to use their best sense; their nose.

Exercise in moderation

Every dog needs an off switch, wild dogs are active when they need to be. They live uncomplicated lives and conserve energy for when it really matters. Sleep and rest are most important during a dog’s day. It allows them to perform well, both physically and mentally.

If your dog struggles to rest, try to help them find ways to calm down so they can properly wind down and have a more balanced way of life.

Balance of rest, entertainment and enrichment

When we constantly interact with our dogs, they begin to demand our attention all the time. When we give them exercise and enrichment all day, they have no opportunity to practice self-calming.

Take time to rest with your dog, give them a gentle massage or just be still next to them. You don’t have to talk, in fact, it can be better to be quiet, close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing.

How much rest should dogs get?

signs of over exercising puppy
Exercising dog – sit and watch the world go by and spats of play and bimble

Reward your dog’s body and mind with a rest day, especially after a huge trek or an intense cani-cross / agility session.

Allowing your dog to just do nothing is one of the most important lessons to teach your puppy. There is absolutely nothing wrong, in fact, it’s better to have a ‘chill day’ once a week with your dog. Whether you sit on a beach, by a river or at home simply ‘existing’. 

Finding the perfect balance between exercise, rest, enrichment and good food leads to a happy, healthy life.

If you have an overactive dog (and don’t put this down to breed please – all dogs, whatever breed you have, can be over the top if we let them), then please do take time to educate them in the art of chilling. They and you will live longer and happier lives, guaranteed.

Signs of overexercising dogs

If your pup has been too active, there are some tell-tale signs that they have been over-exercising. Signs may include:

  • Frequent Injuries (i.e. muscles, joints, wear and tear on paws)
  • Stiff movements and struggling to get up, indicating muscle soreness
  • Heatstroke, if the weather is particularly warm
  • Behavioural changes, such as refusing to go on walks, increased sleeping time and generally being less active.


It’s important that you recognise the signs of overexertion in dogs, so you can make sure they get enough rest. If you are worried in any way, you may also check with your vet if any physical or behavioural changes are not linked to anything else.

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