Is a half-hour of exercise enough for a dog?
What I’ve realized is that for a lot of dogs, a 30-minute run does nothing to tire them out. In most cases, it’s just enough to get the dogs hyped up.
I started a dog running business several years ago where I offered running and walking sessions for dogs in 30-minute or 60-minute slots.
Every dog is different depending on her breed, age, how much exercise her owner provides and many other factors. But in general, 30 minutes is just enough time to get the dog excited and ready for more exercise, playing, training or whatever.
I am not suggesting that no walk at all is better than a half-hour walk.
But I am suggesting that we think about exercise and dogs a little differently.
For most dogs, a half-hour walk per day is simply not enough exercise. Not even close.
Ever taken your dog out for a half-hour, only to come home and have her sprint around the house? Those of you with dogs that can go, go, go for hours know exactly what I’m talking about.
A half-hour walk is just a warm-up. The dog enjoys a half-hour walk, but it’s not going to make the dog tired.
I know it’s not realistic for most people to take their dogs running for two hours every day, but owners can still look for ways to increase their dogs’ exercise.
The amount of time the walk lasts is more important than speed
I’ve found that regardless of speed, the amount of time the walk lasts is what’s more important as far as tiring out the dog and helping her feel calmer. Do you notice this as well?
I notice that dogs are generally more relaxed and tired after a 60-minute walk versus a 30-minute run. And they are about equally relaxed and tired after a 60-minute walk versus a 60-minute run.
The reason for this is most likely because of the mental workout. The longer the dog is out and about (regardless of speed), the more she gets to work her mind – see new things, smell new things and so on.
The speed is not all that important if we are referring to a human’s walking or running pace. This is probably because humans always seem SLOW to most dogs, even when we are running.
So what can we do to give our dogs more exercise?
Variety. If we mix it up, we can keep their minds working. Run when you can. Walk when you need to. Turn left when you would normally turn right. Visit new neighborhoods. Visit every park in your town. Head to the country.
Make a point to practice obedience commands – sit, down, stay, come, heel.
Walk your dog for 45 minutes instead of 30. Walk her twice.
Hire a dog walker in addition to exercising your dog yourself. Invite a friend along sometimes. Use a dog backpack sometimes. Rollerblade sometimes. Bike with your dog sometimes. Visit the dog park sometimes. Let your dog run around off leash sometimes.
Try to get out for one longer walk rather than a bunch of shorter walks. This will be less frustrating for your dog.
Focus on providing mental workouts. Can my dog hop onto this rock? Leap over this fence? Carry this stick? Climb onto this picnic table?
And when you do have time for a longer walk, do it.
What have you noticed about your own dog and the amount of exercise she needs to feel tired?
Let me know in the comments!
As for me, my mutt Ace could “get by” with a 20-minute walk, but two 20-minute walks per day seemed to be about right for him, especially if that included some mental challenges like visiting somewhere new.
My pup Remy is absolutely not tired after an hour walk. He needs a few hours of exercise and play per day, if possible.
Monday 22nd of February 2021
WHat doyou think the requirmements would be for a 12 year old blind golden retriever re walking times?
Tuesday 23rd of February 2021
I don't know, as far as the dog seems to want to go. They are all different. I'd probably start with two 20 min walks a day and adjust as needed.
Friday 5th of April 2019
Good advice! I walk urban a lot, we live in the country my 5.5 month pup is out and about a lot, he plays with stuff roams around , digs and never gets tired. So far for puppies sleep a lot, very funny. My puppy is hyper and anxious and only gets better when he has to work his brain. So I walk the city have him sit at every crossroad have him jump on every wall then sit there and do high fives . There is a lot to see and insniffigate , he has to sit for other dogs when they go by all kinds of stuff. After about 45 minutes we sit somewhere he lays down and stays down with treats , it’s hard for him and drains him. Good for me!
Thursday 29th of March 2018
Thank you for the article. We have a dog who has an elbow issue which at some point as he gets older will most likely need surgery. He is only 15 months old. Our vet advised to limit exercise to half hour - so we do that twice a day with a morning walk and visit the dog park in the evening. I feel it is not enough as he does act like a greyhound when gets home from the morning walk. We then do a little obedience training and leave puzzle feeders when we go to work. He visits dog daycare fortnightly for a bit if variety. I think we are doing the right things given the circumstance. I was thinking hydrotherapy might be a good option if I can find somewhere nearby? I enjoyed the article and it shed light on his "race track" antics at home!
Thursday 29th of March 2018
Just took my Finnish Lapphund pup (1 year old) for an hour walk. We went to a park, had some off lead play/ run,did some heeling, sitting, dropping and stays along the way and yet the minute we came home, we still had the zoomies and a jump in water, obviously hot!!! had breakfast, and now he is quiet.....
Thursday 29th of March 2018
You are so right. It really is not the speed that counts but where and what you do on the walk that matters.Go to different places and do different things is what dogs love.Nobody likes going to the same place every day and doing the same thing over and over again.I take it easy on older dogs and puppies. Older dogs just want to get out and do different things. Puppies have a lot of energy but I messed up with my yellow lab Emma Lou because I let her run to fast to young and now her elbow is sore every once in a while.I should of waited until she was over a year or so before letting run hard.Mix it up is the way to go.