Just like humans, dogs need regular exercise. This is, of course, good for them physically: younger, more energetic dogs require an outlet for their energy, and if they do not have a more appropriate outlet, they might seek this out by running through the house, enthusiastically destroying things, digging, jumping, and by increasingly rough play. Larger, older dogs are often more relaxed and may sometimes seem to indicate they don’t want to exercise, but they need it: lack of proper exercise can lead to digestive problems, overeating, weight gain, and difficulty moving.
Exercise is also good for dogs emotionally and mentally: it often gives them the chance to see, hear, and smell new things and something to concentrate on other than their familiar surroundings and their humans.
Humans always want their dogs to have the happiest, healthiest lives, and this means exercise. Humans are often advised that they need to take 10,000 steps a day to be considered active. But how much exercise does a dog need?
Levels of exercise
A step count is actually also a fairly appropriate measurement for dogs, since much of their exercise comes from going on walks. But how many steps are required? This can vary, according to a number of factors, such as:
One of the most important factors for getting dogs the right amount of exercise is their age. Very young puppies (less than a month old, for instance) hardly need any exercise at all, and will get all they need through learning to walk and explore.
It has been suggested that dogs between 5 weeks and 11 months old need about 3,500 to 5,000 steps. It is best to break this up into multiple shorter walks, though one longer one will be fine. Dogs develop a greater likelihood of arthritis in their old age if they’re walked more than 3,500-5,000 steps. Also important is ample recovery time; it should not be surprising if a dog crashes and sleeps after a brisk walk.
Dogs between the ages of 1 and 2 years old benefit from about 6,000-7,000 steps a day, while dogs over 2 are best served with over 8,000 steps, with one study from Sweden suggesting that 16,000 steps is best.
Canine steps are not the same as human ones since dogs have twice as many legs. For this reason, a human wanting to finish his or her step count by taking the dog on a brisk thirty-minute walk (roughly the equivalent of about two miles) will find that a dog will get about 8,000 steps in; this, coupled with a few other short walks, will get dogs close to their desired activity level.
The step recommendation based on a dog’s age must be understood as an average, as a dog’s breed will also determine how much activity they should have. Various breeds of dogs were bred to perform various activities, some requiring more stamina and exertion than others. For instance, herding dogs (such as Border Collies, Golden Retrievers, and German Shepherds) were bred to chase after errant livestock and ward off predators, so they need much more physical (and mental) stimulation. To the contrary, giant dogs like Great Danes, and “toy” dogs like Maltese and Chihuahuas, require the lesser end. Also, these dogs vary in terms of what might be referred to as intensity of exercise: Collies and Retrievers could probably do with accompanying their humans on a jog, while a Pekingese could stand a more leisurely pace.
Another thing to consider is a dog’s weight. Of course, this is often determined by breed, but unless the dog is obese (in which case more exercise is probably required to help it slim down), one suggested rule of thumb is that an adult dog requires roughly 1,000 steps per pound of weight every day.
Just like humans, dogs can have health conditions that might affect the way they exercise. They still need it, but this might require longer walks at a slower pace.
Of course, it is a fact of life that humans sometimes do not have enough time to get proper exercise for themselves, and this can also mean they do not have time to make sure their dogs get the right amount, either. Fortunately, AllDogs Canine Care Center can help. By scheduling a PlayCare or PlayCamp appointment, people in the Jefferson City area can drop off their four-legged friends for a day of attention and, importantly, exercise, either with humans alone or with other dogs. For more information, call (865) 262-8310, or email email@example.com.