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Does a walk count as exercise for a dog?

My Labrador used to attend doggy day-care where he played with his friends all day which is much more fun for him than being at home by himself.  The day-care provided activities and exercise for the dogs.  Recently we changed to a dog walker.  Now I am worried that he might not be receiving enough exercise.  Dogs need anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours daily exercise and of course this will depend on the breed of dog and age.  Pups will wear themselves out with a few short walks a day where a more active dog will need more, however, what is certain is that every dog needs a daily walk or two. 

So how can you tell if your dog needs more exercise? 

You start to notice that your dog is becoming overweight or obese.  It is sad but obesity in dogs is becoming an epidemic with millions of dogs being affected.  In most cases dogs become overweight for two reasons: they get too much food and too little exercise.  Before you jump in and change your dog’s diet we recommend that you talk to your vet first and discuss whether you should adjust your dog’s portion sizes or switch to a healthier diet or you could simply add in exercise to their daily routine. 

Each dog is different and every breed of dog will require their own exercise regime.  Dogs have a hard time staying cooped up all day when working hard is in their blood!  When we think back to our pet’s ancestors, they were bred to herd sheep or keep watch over the property.  Therefore active breeds require several walks a day. 

You notice that they seem to be begging for play time when they drop a tennis ball at your feet or pick up their favourite toy and want to be chased around the garden.  As a pet parent we have all seen our dogs look at us with those expectant eyes, it is their way of gently telling us that they need more exercise!  Dogs usually display this behaviour in the evening or when we walk in from work because they’ve had no one to play with all day. 

If you start to notice that they are becoming restless at night it is possible that they are not getting enough exercise.  Regular exercise helps us sleep better and the same is true for our pets.  Dogs that do not get enough exercise might pace around at night or keep you up with their barking.  Did you know that dogs have the same circadian rhythm (24-hour cycles that is part of the body’s internal clock, running in the background to carry out essential functions) as humans, meaning they’re active during the day and sleep at night.  If they have trouble falling asleep, a lack of exercise could be the reason why. 

Dogs always find a way to burn energy, which can result in destructive behaviours around the house.  Have you ever come home to find that your furry friend has knocked over the bin, ripped open couch cushions or even eat random objects?  A pet who does not get enough exercise demonstrates traits of bad behaviour in order for us to take notice and help find ways to provide adequate exercise.  Any play time provides a positive outlet for all that energy.

You could also consider rigorous activities for energetic dogs with high-intensity exercises like these: 

Skiing or skateboarding which you might have seen pets do on TV or YouTube clips - each of these activities is like going for a walk, except your dog is putting in more work!  If your dog is pulling you along they can burn more energy in a shorter amount of time.  It is worth noting that these exercises are not for every dog.  Your pet should be big enough to comfortably haul your weight for an extended period.  If your dog has joint issues, this is not the activity for them.  A product like GudFur Joint Mobility Supplement will help with your pets stiff joints.

Tugging on a rope will wear out your dog in short order.  The game requires dogs to use bursts of high energy, which is much more tiring than a slow amble around the park.  If you do not have a rope use a toy and after a minute of tugging back and forth command your dog to drop the toy.  Interspersing tug-of-war with basic commands has the added benefit of teaching discipline

Creating an obstacle course for your pet combines aerobic exercise with mental stimulation. Intelligent breeds require drills that work their mind just as much as their body.  Dogs bred to work will welcome the chance to jump over hurdles and crawl through tunnels.  You can set up a simple agility course in your garden with cones and other obstacles. If you do not have a garden go to your nearest park where you could train your dog to jump through a hula hoop. 

In summary your dog will display a few behaviours that will indicate that they might require more exercise, some dogs might be content with their daily 30-minute walk.  Each pet is unique so the amount of time you put into exercise each day depends on your dog. Experiment with a few different activities until you find one what works for you and your furry friend. 

We welcome your comments and thoughts so please do share and let us know if you found this useful.

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