How Often Should You Walk a Dog?
How Often Should You Walk a Dog? Dogs, just like humans, need exercise for both their physical and mental health – regardless of size, age, or breed. Walking, of course, forms the bulk of a dog’s exercise regime, but how often should you walk a dog? If that is a question that has been ‘walking’ through your mind, this blog might help you out.
How Often Should You Walk a Dog?
Generally, dogs can benefit from 30 minutes to a couple of hours of walking every day. Some pet owners prefer to take their dogs for shorter, multiple walks throughout the day. However, the ideal duration and frequency of walks can and does vary from day to day and, of course, from dog to dog.
This means that there is no uniform formula that can help you figure out how often to walk your dog. 30 minutes is a good starting point for most dogs and their owners, especially if you have not indulged in a great deal of physical activity as of late. You can gradually increase the amount of walking time, or go for a second walk within the day.
On days when time is in short-supply (or your dog’s energy is in excess supply), you can supplement walking with other energy-consuming activities. For instance, you can go for a run or jog, organize playtime with other dogs in the neighborhood, or play a game of fetch. You can always employ a dog-walker or daycare provider to fulfill your dog’s physical activity needs on days that you might not be able to do yourself.
What Are the Benefits of Walking Your Dog?
Walking your dog enhances their health in several ways:
- Walking helps your dog shed excess calories and maintain the right weight
- Dogs’ joints are similar to those of humans, and can get stiff as a result of inadequate physical activity. Hence, regular walking allows your dog to keep their joints healthy and mobile
- Pooping and peeing while walking is common for dogs; hence, walking helps with regular excretion. In addition, peeing is not only good for your dog’s health, but it also helps them communicate through smell
When Should I Take My Dog for a Walk?
Should you take your dog out first thing in the morning? Or should you do that at night, before going to sleep? What about before or after meals? Once again, there is no correct answer to this question – the important thing is to stick to the schedule you have created.
According to Michael W. Fox, a veterinarian who routinely writes for the Washington Post, the perfect dog-walking schedule is as follows:
- A short walk right before breakfast
- A second short walk sometime around midday
- A longer run or walk right before dinner
- A final walk right before going to bed
What makes this routine desirable is the fact that it is aligned with the evacuation, eating, and exercise needs of a typical healthy dog. But adhering to this schedule is not possible for every dog owner. Thankfully, a long walk sandwiched between multiple shorter walks, works well for most dogs.
Why Do Dogs Prefer Longer Walks?
As you must have guessed by now, most dogs like to have at least one longer walk during the day. The reason is that dogs love to explore the world around them, and long walks give them a better chance of doing so.
Secondly, long walks have a profoundly positive impact on your dog’s mental health. If your dog’s activity level is not sufficient for them to use up most of their energy, they might utilize that energy for destructive purposes (chewing the carpet off or scratching the sofa, for instance).
Thirdly, long walks give you enough time to establish and strengthen your bond with your pet. As per the VCA Animal Hospitals, the kind of one-on-one time that you and your dog spend during walks, helps reduce attention-seeking behaviors like barking or whining.
Determining Your Dog’s Physical Activity Needs:
When deciding the ideal level of physical activity for your dog, you need to consider their age, health, breed, and energy levels. Younger dogs with greater energy reservoirs tend to enjoy longer and more frequent walks. On the other hand, senior dogs – who are often also struggling with mobility issues or issues like diabetes or thyroid problems –are fine with fewer and shorter walks.
As far as breed is concerned, the below breeds, considered high-energy, generally require the highest degree of physical activity:
- Golden Retrievers and Labradors
- Australian Shepherds
- Herding breeds like Border Collies
On the other end of the spectrum are less-active breeds that are likely to be okay (and even prefer) one or two short walks per day. These breeds include:
- Great Danes
Like we mentioned, younger dogs of any breed would require more physical activity than their older counterparts. Also, you need to factor in the existence of any conditions or illnesses that might impair your dog’s stamina and, by extension, their physical endurance.
How fit your dog is also determines the level of physical activity that they can endure. If your pet is in good or decent shape, long walks or even hikes might not be a problem for them. However, if your dog is obese or overweight, they might not be able to endure even a 10-minute walk without panting or taking breaks.
To sum up, dogs need at least one walk – and ideally two or more – walks per day. Of course, factors like age, health, breed, weight, and physical conditions, all play a role in determining the ideal frequency and duration of the walks.
Whether you go for a single walk or break it down into multiple shorter excursions, the key is to make the activity fun and lively – both for you and your dog. It is a key part of dog companionship, and one of the most important and effective ways to maintain your canine companion’s physical, mental, and emotional health. They should be looking forward to coming home to their bed.