Walking your dog can be one of the most pleasurable parts of dog ownership, but it can also be the most confusing! You may be asking – How long should I walk my dog? – and the honest answer is, it depends. In this blog, we'll break down the four factors that impact how long your daily dog walks should be. We'll also answer your main questions and more!
How much should you walk your dog? Do dogs like long walks? How long should you walk your dog each day? There is a large amount of conflicting info available; every website and dog owner seems to have a different opinion on the matter.
However, all dog owners and their furry friends can agree that dog walks are fun and provide a great deal of mental stimulation. The outing also helps you solidify the bond with your four-legged buddy. Going for a walk is a great group adventure for everyone in the family - furry and human.
Many owners acquire dogs envisioning themselves taking long strolls across valleys and over mountains, but there are a few important considerations owners need to think about before taking their dog on that ten-mile hike!
Some adult dogs require plenty of exercise; others are couch potatoes - like people, everyone is different. Most dogs will go on a walk every chance they get, but there are others that you have to convince that the opportunity will be something fun before they even consider taking a stroll.
How Long Should I Walk My Dog?
How long should I walk my dog? How often for? How Often? How much is too much? Does my dog's age matter? Do adult dogs like long walks? or How long should you walk a dog?
These are all valid and important questions to ask when planning out your dog's daily activity level needs and weekly exercise schedule. It's your job to ensure your dog is receiving a safe level of exercise to maintain the pet's health.
All dog breeds require regular walks, but some might have health issues that make long walks impossible. However, even a short walk can provide a multitude of health benefits.
Regular walks are a great form of weight control. In addition to daily walks, your vet will also have additional advice for the best weight management, such as food.
There is no one right answer or solution for every pet when it comes to dog walking. Instead, you have to consider what your unique pet needs.
To help you find the right walking routine and amount of exercise for your dog, we put together a list of four of the most important factors to consider when determining how long you should walk your dog to keep them happy and healthy.
Some dogs appreciate long walks, and others might balk at even a leisurely stroll through the neighbourhood. You'll just have to get to know your dog's preference.
1. Dog Walking at Different Life Stages
At each stage of growth, your dog will have different requirements for energy, stimulation, and stamina that you should consider when you walk your dog. Keep their physical limits in mind as they develop from puppy to adult so you can ensure they are getting appropriate exercise for their needs.
As your puppy matures into an adult, their walking needs will change. Some dogs will need longer walks on a leash, and others will function well on shorter outings. No matter what the situation, your dog's heart and health will benefit from a daily walk.
Should You Walk Puppies?
Walking your puppy daily is the best way to build muscle and keep them mentally stimulated. Walking and exploring is a great way to kick-start your puppy's behaviour training and teach them good manners.
Puppies often have bursts of energy followed by frequent naps. Daily activity helps to burn off excess energy and reduce destructive and sassy puppy behaviours caused by boredom and understimulation.
It is important not to over-exercise them, though. Overwalking a puppy while they are still growing can lead to injury. If you have concerns, always discuss them with your vet to obtain advice and ensure you are meeting your pup's needs.
When Can You Start Walking a Puppy?
You should avoid taking puppies out in public or on walks before receiving their full vaccinations. Puppy vaccines are designed to protect your pup from diseases or viruses that can spread from dog to dog or from interacting with wildlife or their excrement.
Most puppies are fully vaccinated by about 16-18 weeks, so about 4-5 months. Talk to your vet about your puppy's vaccine schedule and find out which vaccines are necessary before you take your puppy out into the world.
Before being vaccinated, it's a good idea to use the time to practice your puppy's walking skills in the house or in a secure yard. The sooner they get used to the leash or a harness, the better your experience will be when you actually start walking your pup.
How Far Can a Puppy Walk?
Once your puppy is vaccinated, you can start taking them on short walks. The general rule of thumb for walking puppies is to walk five minutes per month of age. Daily walks are a great way to form a strong bond between you and your new pup!
For example, if your pup is eight months old, their activity level is relatively high, so you should walk them for about forty minutes per day. This can be one long walk or split into multiple brief walks a day to better suit your schedule and their stamina.
Puppies Tire Quickly
Remember, the idea is to walk until they are tired, not until you are tired. Even hyper puppies can push themselves too hard without realizing it.
If your puppy is bursting with energy, try to supplement their exercise with enrichment training and games at home, even after your walks. These activities will teach your puppy some skills and help tire them out mentally and physically. They are also a great bonding opportunity.
Should You Walk Senior Dogs?
Once your dog reaches their golden years, you may wish to slow down and take more relaxed walks. Most old dogs still need daily exercise, but you may need to walk slower or split longer walks into multiple short ones.
Different dogs reach their senior stage at different times, so you'll need to watch out for common signs of ageing to determine when you should start making adjustments to your walking schedule.
- Limping or gait changes
- Difficulty getting up, using stairs, or jumping
- Whining when moving
- Sleeping more than usual
- Refusal to play or go for walks
- Having trouble keeping up with your pace
While we often group dogs together by size or breed when talking about senior issues, every dog is different and sometimes, age is just a number. Talk to your vet about your dog's age so that you can make appropriate adjustments to your dog's activity levels and lifestyle.
How Far Can Old Dogs Walk?
Experts recommend thirty minutes daily for senior dogs, as this is enough to keep arthritic joints and tired muscles moving!
Make sure your dog doesn't overdo it by starting out slowly and increasing the distance and walk time as the dog builds up stamina for the physical activity. You'll reduce the likelihood of injuries.
For senior dogs showing signs of mobility issues, it may be better to break that 30 minutes into 2-3 shorter walks throughout the day minimum, giving them a chance to rest in between. Most elderly dogs require less activity, but not none.
How to Motivate Geriatric Dogs
Just like people, dogs may feel less enthusiastic about exercise when they get older. Taking them for daily walks is physically and mentally helpful, even when they prefer to stay in bed. There are a few things you can do to encourage your older pooch to keep active and enjoy daily dog walks:
- Familiar Routes: Keeping to the same routes may also be useful for senior dogs who are suffering from some cognitive decline or directional issues. Familiarity will become your old dog’s best friend! Stick to your neighbourhood area, local parks, and similar landmarks to help keep your dog from getting confused, overwhelmed, or scared on your walk.
- Stick to a Schedule: Over-walking your senior dog can lead to injury and pain in the bones when they move too much, but not providing enough exercise can be harmful too. A regular, daily routine will help your dog maintain regular activity.
- Watch Their Weight: It's easy for older dogs to fall into lazy routines, and this can quickly lead to weight issues. Senior dogs are already prone to mobility issues, arthritis, and inflammation, and adding excess weight will only compound the issues. If your dog is becoming less able to exercise and expend energy, you need to start monitoring their food intake to find a good balance of calories in and out.
- Check the Weather: Older dogs, like people, can't handle extreme temperatures. You may need to replace walks with other indoor activities when the weather isn't cooperative.
- Take it Slow: Let your dog set the pace. Some older dogs lose stamina before speed, so they may prefer shorter, faster walks, while others will choose to mosey down the road leisurely. Pushing your dog too hard on walks may make them anxious about the process, especially if it causes them pain or discomfort.
- Make it Fun: Old dogs might be lazier but still like to have fun. Make walks an exciting activity. Bring along some small treats and use a happy, excited tone to let your old pooch know that it's walk time!
Signs That Your Old Dog Needs to Slow Down
Dogs can be stubborn, especially when it comes to playtime and activity. Watch your aging dog carefully to make sure your dog isn't overdoing it in an effort to please you.
Some senior dogs will push themselves too hard even if they are in pain, so it's up to you to dictate how much exercise is too much. Delayed pain responses are common. After your walk, watch how your dog gets up and down, how they move around, and how much they rest.
These can all be signs that our dog over-did it on his walk. Even if he enjoyed doing it, he will suffer long after the walk.
Check out our Dog Exercise Calculator to see how much activity you should give your pooch every day. It will give you an idea of how often you should walk your dog to maintain the doggo's health and mental well-being.
2. Size & Breed Matter
Depending on your dog's breed, their exercise requirements will vary greatly. Dog breeds like Chihuahuas or Basset Hounds need around thirty minutes of exercise daily, compared to the larger Border Collie dogs, Australian Sheepdogs, English Pointer, Terriers, Weimaraner, Labrador Retrievers, or Australian Cattle Dogs, who can thrive with over two hours of exercise each day. You'll want to develop a walking schedule based on your particular dog's needs.
This variance will depend on their size and, equally, what your pup was bred to do. For example, Great Danes are the largest dog breed in the world, but they were not bred to be highly athletic, so they only need thirty to sixty minutes of exercise a day, less as they age.
Unlike Labs, which are bred to hunt from dawn to dusk. When you walk your dog, always factor in the breed's specific exercise needs and the minutes per day they need to work out.
Some breeds are also prone to elbow and hip problems. If you suspect your dog is having problems with their joints, then you should schedule a visit with your veterinarian. Breeds like German Shepherds and others often suffer from hip or elbow dysplasia, making walking and training difficult or painful.
They are much happier stretching out in a sunny spot, watching the world go by. Most dogs love to sunbathe, so it's always a treat to let them lounge after a walk or some other physically strenuous activity.
3. Temperature Hazards
Temperature is another crucial factor when considering how long to walk your dog for! If you live in a warmer climate, factoring this into your walking routines is important.
Try to beat the rising temps by walking early in the morning or late in the evening. Of course, when you take your dog to the bathroom, it has to be at any time of the day, so if it's hot outside, try to make it as quick as possible to prevent overheating.
A good rule is to only stay out for five or ten minutes or until your dog does his business. This is especially important if you have a brachycephalic (flat-faced) breed, like a pug, as they can struggle more than your average pet to regulate their temperature in the heat!
Always keep a close eye on your pug-nose friend when you walk your dog to watch for signs of distress when going the distances.
If you must walk in the hottest part of the day, try to walk in shaded areas, away from pavement and other surfaces that retain heat, as this can burn your dog’s paws and lead to your dog overheating.
A good pair of hiking boots can be beneficial on hot days and on longer outings, like hikes. With boots, your dog can participate in all the hiking and walking fun without worrying about sore tootsies. Your dog will stay in shape going across the rough terrain with optimum foot protection.
A good dog cooling vest can also be useful for keeping your dog comfortable and safe on a hike. The vest can be repeatedly saturated to improve your dog's ability to vent body heat. Every case is different, but most dogs enjoy the feel of the cool vest.
Anyone can easily use the vest to cool their pup down quickly as long as they follow the brand's recommendations for use.
Check out How to Cool Down a Dog for more tips on staying cool in warm weather so that you and your dog can still enjoy your daily adventures. With a little advance planning and a workable schedule, you can keep your pup cool and not worry so much about the rising temps when you walk your dog.
When picking out a cooling vest, be sure to read the reviews before making a choice. The benefits of a cooling vest are undeniable and can make the vest a valued addition to your daily walks.
4. Health Considerations
Before embarking on a long walk, it is important to spend time considering if your dog has any health conditions that may influence their ability to enjoy it! Sure, you want your dog to get enough exercise per day, but you don't want your dog to overdo it. Walking can improve your canine's health, but even too much of a good thing can have a negative impact on your four-legged friend.
For example, a dog with hip dysplasia or arthritis may not be able to walk as far as they used to. Although more prevalent in older dogs, conditions such as hip dysplasia can be diagnosed in dogs as young as 18 months! Every case is different, so you should take your dog to the vet if you suspect a problem for a complete evaluation.
"How often should you walk your dog? How many minutes per day?" These are big and important questions that you might want to discuss with your vet if your dog shows any indications of physical problems.
As a result, if you plan to take your dog on longer walks regularly or participate in a group dog park event, yearly health check-ups are essential for your pet.
There’s no reason to go on a long walk together if you’re not both going to enjoy it! A walk is good for your dog's energy levels and yours - you will both benefit from a workout.
Try not to push your dog beyond their limits. Maybe just walk around your yard if you don't want your dog to move much. Just like a person, your dog can only go for so long without becoming tired. Overweight dogs, dogs with breathing problems, and dogs prone to overheating can be at risk of stress from overheating.
Dogs often don't know when to slow down or take a break when needed! They will put their nose to the ground and just keep going. Dog owners have to regulate the activity a lot throughout the day so Fido doesn't overdo it.
Avoid going on long walks. Instead, choose a route that keeps you close to the house so your dog doesn't have to walk a long way if he gets tired. Anyone can enjoy a short outing just as much as a long one as long as your furry sidekick is with you.
Too Much or Not Enough?
Walking your dog doesn’t have to be complicated. Make sure you know his limitations and find a routine that works for both of you. Create a balance between regular walks, hikes, and jogs. Dog sports should always be fun for both you and your furry friend.
If you like to be more adventurous and like to explore the wilderness when you walk your dog, make sure you have the right hiking or camping gear to keep your dog safe, and plan downtime and breaks into your trip.
Read the reviews of the various camping and hiking gear to determine if it's the right choice for you and your doggo's next adventure.
If your dog can't keep up on your hike or run, then don't bring him along for his physical and mental well-being. Instead, stick to a more casual daily walking cadence that suits his age, health, and energy needs better.
Energetic dogs can benefit from a few walks per day, or you could occasionally substitute a walk with a jog to help the pooch burn off excess energy. Add variety to the walk to keep things interesting and filled with plenty of twists and turns. Try training in different parks to keep things challenging.
Too much exercise is just as risky as not enough. So, make small changes to help your dog build stamina, and watch for signs of dehydration, exhaustion, and overheating. Encourage a cool-down period as needed to break up the heat of the trail.
When planning an outing, you should always take into account the weather forecast. If the mercury rises dramatically, you might want to walk in the early morning or late evening hours to help keep your pooch cool—also, factor in the length of the walk. Keep walks short when it's hot outside, and stay alert so you spot the signs of overheating.
Watch the behaviours of your dog for signs of heat exhaustion. If your dog starts to show signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke, then an immediate vet trip is needed to resolve the issue promptly. The vet will evaluate the dog's symptoms and perform diagnostics to form an opinion.
Dog Walking in the Dog Park
For a special treat, most dogs love visiting the dog park. It's a great place to let dogs be dogs, gain much-needed socialization, and play games. At a dog park, there is no keeping your distance. They can run, play a game of fetch, or you can practice leash-free heeling. Most dogs find walking without a leash fun. Playing in a group of other canines is also a blast for your furry friend. It's definitely a good opportunity to practice obedience in a safe area.
Let your dog participate in the dog park's freedom and play as a group with his canine companions. Play games of fetch or frisbee on the side while your dog walks and runs.
Supplies for a Dog Walk
Okay, we have covered cooling supplies and even touched on dog boots. You probably know you need a collar or harness, a leash, and pet identification. However, what other products should you invest in when walking with your dog?
Good products give reinforcement to your dog's outdoor outing. With a ball, you can easily enjoy a game of fetch in your backyard and then head out for a walk.
Why not invest in a pack so your dog can carry his own supplies? Dog backpacks have enough pouches to carry poop bags, one bowl, treats, water, and food. Most dogs don't mind carrying a pack on trips and even seem to enjoy the activity.
Dogs don't need much gear for a simple day's hike, but if they complain, you'll need to pack more to ensure their comfort. Consider what your pet might need to use for the outing, and then pack the essentials, such as boots, to protect the feet.
Walking across rocks and on concrete is harder on your dog's paws than grass, so you'll want to provide protection. Also, don't forget a treat bag loaded with Fido's tasty morsels.
If your canine companion is older or has health problems, invest in a pack to carry your dog in on a walk or even a doggy stroller if the length of the walk or the speed is too long or too much for little legs. When using dog products or other gear to enhance your walk, always read the safety guidelines and ensure the item's quality.
Shop for all of your dog supplies on the Homes Alive Pets website! You'll find plenty of the best dog walking accessories to pick between. On the website, shoppers always have access to diverse walking supplies.
If you are on the fence about a product, take the time to read a comment or two on the page to determine if the item is the right choice for your needs. You can also check out partner sites to find more reviews. Always look for discounts in the advertising fees section. Everyone wants to save a bit nowadays when making a purchase!
When planning out a hike or long walk, turn to your browser for guidance on Canadian trails. Many parks offer maps as part of their advertising so you can pick the perfect route for your outdoor adventures.
There are many reasons to enjoy a walk with your pooch. The frequency of the outing doesn't have to be an everyday event for all days.
You'll need to determine how often and how long to walk your dog based on the animal's age, breed type, and physical capabilities. Your furry friend just wants to be your constant companion and will enjoy anything you plan with relish.
Dog Walking FAQs
How Often Should I Walk My Dog?
The frequency of dog walks depends on your dog's breed, age, energy level and general health. Most dog breeds benefit from at least one walk per day, while high-energy breeds like Border Collies will enjoy two or more walks per day plus plenty of games and playtime at home.
How Long Should Each Dog Walk Last?
The length of your dog's walk can vary, but most doggos appreciate at least 30 minutes to an hour of walking time every day. Some dog breeds may require shorter or longer regular walks, so base your walking schedule on your dog's energy levels and physical abilities.
Is It Necessary to Hire a Professional Dog Walker?
Hiring professional dog walker services can be beneficial if you have a busy schedule and simply cannot walk your dog yourself. The experience of a professional dog walker is typically positive for your pet and the participant.
What If My Dog Pulls on the Leash During Walks?
Leash pulling is a common problem during a dog walk. Both you and your dog will quickly wear each other out, and the walk will not be fun for you or your pooch. Enrolling your dog in a dog obedience class can help teach your dog not to pull. Also, you should consider a no-pull harness to discourage the behaviour regardless of the size of your dog.
Are There Any Specific Considerations for Walking Senior Dogs?
Take it slow and always factor in the elderly dog's physical capabilities and health. Take your senior pooch for multiple short walks if they are beginning to show signs of slowing down or have hip and joint issues.
How Can I Ensure the Safety of My Dog During Walks?
To ensure your dog's safety during regular walks, always use a leash, collar, or harness with proper identification, including your pet's name, address, and phone number. If you are walking your furry friend in low light conditions or at night, use a nightlight on the dog's collar, such as the Nite Ize SpotLit Collar Light or the best reflective leash/collar combo.