Dog exercise - how much is enough?

In my daily dog training life I am constantly asked a simple question: How much exercise does my dog need? The answer depends on your dog.

When my Collie, Ranger was a puppy, he needed three hours of exercise per day. How did I know he needed that much? When I did not provide him that much he was agitated, barked in the crate, was destructive and was just not as enjoyable to be around.

I probably could have gotten away with less, but what I did was what I recommend for all of my clients: train and exercise at the same time. A walk wasn’t just for exercise, but I worked on training, I chased him (one of his favorite activities) only after he came when I called him.

I taught him all kind of silly but mind-exercising activities and tricks including “coffee table” – run around the coffee table, “hand-off” – take whatever object is in my hand as you run by, “nose down” – put your nose down between your paws, etc. 

As with most dogs, as he got older his requirements lessened a bit, but he still is very high energy and LOVES training.

My other two dogs love it as well. My Sheltie is high-energy as well, and my other Collie, Trooper is much lower energy but loves training. 

I always recommend a MINIMUM of an hour of heavy-duty exercise including brisk walks, games of fetch, tug, or running at the dog park in addition to a MINIMUM of 15 minutes of training per day.

Start there and adjust it as necessary.

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Comments 3

Lawrence on Tuesday, 15 May 2012 09:11

Will the exercise needed be different according to different breeds?

Will the exercise needed be different according to different breeds?
Jeff Millman on Tuesday, 15 May 2012 12:01

Hi Lawrence,
Different breeds definitely have different exercise needs, but there is always a variation, even within breeds. Border Collies and Poodles are generally on the high end of the spectrum and Bull Dogs and Pugs are on the other end. However, I have seen low-energy Poodles and high-energy Pugs. An hour minimum is a good place to start and some dogs might need as much as 3 hours per day.

Hi Lawrence, Different breeds definitely have different exercise needs, but there is always a variation, even within breeds. Border Collies and Poodles are generally on the high end of the spectrum and Bull Dogs and Pugs are on the other end. However, I have seen low-energy Poodles and high-energy Pugs. An hour minimum is a good place to start and some dogs might need as much as 3 hours per day.
Jeff Millman on Wednesday, 28 November 2012 18:38

Good information! The comment about different needs for different breeds is an excellent one. I always advocate close monitoring; your dog will give you signs when he's had enough. In honor of this week being National Senior Pet Week, remember that your senior dog needs exercise too! Your dog may not be as young as she used to be, but she still wants and needs some playful and physical activity. The important thing is to make sure that it's tailored to her needs and limitations. A little exercise can improve quality of life for your senior dog and perhaps even slow the progression of aging, including the advancement of dog arthritis.

Good information! The comment about different needs for different breeds is an excellent one. I always advocate close monitoring; your dog will give you signs when he's had enough. In honor of this week being National Senior Pet Week, remember that your senior dog needs exercise too! Your dog may not be as young as she used to be, but she still wants and needs some playful and physical activity. The important thing is to make sure that it's tailored to her needs and limitations. A little exercise can improve quality of life for your senior dog and perhaps even slow the progression of aging, including the advancement of dog arthritis.
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