They say a tired dog is a good dog, or at least an “easier to manage” dog. No matter what size your dog, they need an outlet for their energy, be it in the form of a walk, run, or even a mental game. Regular mental and physical stimulation will ensure your dog is happy and healthy. A dog deprived of exercise is likely to display a number of unwanted behaviours, including excitability, hyperactivity, barking, and jumping. He/she may even become destructive out of boredom and stress! A dog that isn’t exercised regularly also has a significantly increased chance of weight gain and/or other health risks.

It is never too late to start your dog on an exercise program. Here are several important things to consider before your lace up your runners and take Pooch out for a walk:

1) Short-nosed, flat-faced breeds (Bulldogs, Boxers, etc.) have limited airways and are prone to overheating. These breeds should not partake in any long-distance running. As well, exercise in extreme heat should be avoided whenever possible. Consider an indoor venue for exercise or a mental game to drain their energy when it’s too hot.

2) If your dog is 18 months or younger, they are still growing. Don’t be afraid to let them run around, but do your best to avoid excessive running. You don’t want to disrupt their development in any way.

3) Senior dogs are prone to arthritis and other physical issues. It’s best to tone down the exercise of an older dog to avoid excess aches and pains.

4) Because large dogs are susceptible to hip dysplasia and ligament injuries, it’s best to start slow. Don’t take them on long walks or runs until they’ve been conditioned to that level of exercise.

Dogs are generally classified into 7 groups:

Sporting breeds: Retrievers, Spaniels, Viszla, etc.
Sporting breeds are hunting dogs; they have plenty of energy and wit. They are highly trainable and love working closely with their owner. Dogs of this group need a good 2 hours of exercise per day. These dogs also enjoy and benefit from mental games.

Herding breeds: German shepherds, Collies, Australian shepherds, etc.
Herding dogs are energetic and smart. They are protective of their family and property, and as a result, often nip or bump people. Without proper training and consistent exercise, these dogs can get bored very fast, resulting in frustratration and unruliness. Herding breeds love to be challenged both physically and mentally. They need a good 2 to 3 hours of exercise each day (this can be broken up into two or three 1-hour sessions of intense exercise). In addition to the physical exercise, herding breeds enjoy mental games as well.

Hounds are characterized by their fantastic sense of smell, their intelligence and their stamina. There are 2 types of hounds: sight hounds, and scent hounds. The sight hounds (Greyhounds, Afghan hounds, etc.) were bred to expend their energy in short, intense bursts. Sight hounds would benefit from two 30-45 sessions of intense exercise per day.

Scent hounds (Beagles, Bloodhounds, Basset hounds) have exercise needs similar to the sporting group. A good 2 hours per day would be best, along with some mental games.

Terriers: American pit bull terrier, Schnauzer, Scottish terrier
These dogs are very energetic and intelligent. Terriers need a good 1 to 1.5 hours of exercise per day, ideally broken up into 2 sessions. Terriers’ high level of activity and intelligence means that they, too, enjoy mental games.

Working dogs: Husky, Great Dane, Akita
The dogs in this group were bred for a multitude tasks, whether it be pulling sleds, rescuing humans or guarding people and livestock. Without the proper amount of exercise and training, these dogs can be a handful. Dogs of this group need a good 2 hours of exercise per day, and also enjoy and benefit from mental games.

Toy breeds: Chihuahua, Pomeranian, Papillon
Dogs that fall into the toy breed category are small and don’t require as much exercise as the above groups. Two 30 minute walks is most often sufficient.

Non-sporting dogs: Any dog that doesn’t fit into the above groups, such as Bulldogs and Lhasa Apsos.

To determine your dog’s exercise needs, take into account their size, body type and age. A good rule of thumb is a minimum of two 30 minute walks per day.

A regular exercise routine will keep your dog healthy, happy and calm. It will also reduce or eliminate unwanted behaviours (which means less barking, whining and chewing!). By fulfilling your dog’s physical and mental needs, you get the pleasure of sharing your home with one happy pooch.

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Tonia has owned her own dog walking company and been a full-time professional dogwalker for over 4 years. She is a member of Pet Sitters International and the Pet Professional Guild (the Association for Force-Free Pet Professionals). She volunteers weekly at a local dog shelter where she gets to feed and spend time with many furry friends.
She started Dogwalker World to share her knowledge and passion about dogs and their natural instinct to walk and explore. She believes (and knows) that walking your dog can be a fun activity that will only strengthen your bond with them. This website is her dedication to you to ensure that you find the tools and advice necessary to make walking your dog a success!

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