What exercise does
your dog need?

Vet Istvan Keseru explores the importance of physical activity for your dog, whatever its age, size and breed.

Like humans, most dogs benefit from regular exercise. Whether it comes in the form of running, swimming, obstacle courses or other activities, it’s best to give them exercises that suit their personality and interests. Try to find things they enjoy and will help them to blow off some steam.

 

Why is exercise important?

Four reasons exercise is important for your dog:

1. It helps to keep them healthy and agile

2. It keeps their weight under control

3. It Improves their mental wellbeing

4. It reduces behavioural problems (digging, chewing etc)

The volume and intensity of your dog’s exercise requirements depend on their age, size, breed and any medical conditions they might have. For example, working breeds tend to have high energy levels, while some short-legged or short-nosed breeds prefer a less intense routine.

Regardless of the intensity and volume, your dog will benefit from a regular and consistent approach.

 

The right routine for the age of your dog

While there are some general rules to follow, each dog is unique and requires a different amount of exercise. Just make sure you don’t overdo it, otherwise they might start to suffer from sensitive pads, tiredness and injuries.

It’s very important to avoid strenuous activity in hot weather and make sure they’ve got access to water.

Puppies
Your puppy’s bones and joints grow and develop until they’re one or two years old, so any exercise at this stage needs to be gentle – particularly with large and giant breeds.

Start with short walks, then build up the length and intensity over several months. The length of these will vary from breed to breed. Generally though, you should start with walks that are less than 30 minutes.

You should also consider playful exercises, such as hiding their favourite toy and encouraging them to look for it. This will help with bonding, training and mental stimulation.

Adults
The exercise necessities of adult dogs are largely dependent on their conformation and size.

Most dogs will benefit from walking and running, while swimming is also a great exercise that they’ll hopefully enjoy. Try to avoid activities that include lots of jumping, which can put pressure on their joints and spine.

Mature dogs
As dogs get older, their energy levels drop. However, unless your vet advises differently, it’s still important to keep them stimulated with gentle exercise.

Regular activity and the right diet will prevent them from getting overweight and help with certain medical conditions; for example, dogs with arthritis need gentle but regular exercise, preferably swimming.

 

Your chance to get fit

As you step up your dog’s routine, don’t be surprised to feel your own health and wellbeing improving too. Joining in with their activities means you’ll also be exercising regularly and enjoying all of the benefits that this brings.

Recommended Guides

Best dog walks
in the UK

Fun games to play with your dog

How to read your dog's body language

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