How long should I walk my dog?

The amount of exercise a dog needs is dependent on several factors. A dog’s age, size, breed and overall health are all taken into consideration when determining how much exercise is sufficient. Generally speaking, for most dogs, a leashed 10-minute walk isn’t enough.

Dogs in the hunting, working or herding groups—labrador retrievers, collies, shepherds, hounds—require the most exercise. If your dog is in one of these groups and in good health, they should be getting at least 30 minutes of vigorous exercise (Frisbee, soccer, agility courses) several times a week in addition to their daily walks.

For other breeds, pay attention to their signs to determine how much exercise is enough. If they’re still walking at full speed after 20 minutes, add another 10. Observing your dog’s behavior should give you clues to when they’re well-exercised.

Some additional tips:

  • Limit your dog’s outdoor activity in extreme weather, including temperatures higher than 85º F.
  • Older dogs, younger dogs, and dark-haired dogs are more sensitive to heat. Walk your dog in morning or early evening to avoid heat extremes.
  • Protect your dog’s paws in cold weather. In the winter, avoid salted paths—they can cause chemical burns on their foot pads.
  • On long walks, don’t forget to bring water for your dog.
  • Even toy and small breeds need outside exercise and daily walks. Pugs, for example, are prone to obesity, so they require exercise to maintain a healthy weight.

Enjoy this daily routine with your dog—walking your dog is a bonding activity, in addition to enriching your dog’s life and health (and yours!).