Is a half-hour of exercise just enough to make a dog hyper?

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, 60-minute or two-hour time 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’ve been thinking about this ever since behaviorist Patricia McConnell brought it up on her blog.

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.

Will 30 minutes of exercise make a dog more hyper

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.

Ace the black lab mix outside on his walk wearing a red collar

What have you noticed about your own dog and the amount of exercise she needs to feel tired?

My mutt Ace can “get by” with a 20-minute walk, but two 20-minute walks per day seems to be about right for him now, especially if this includes some mental challenges like visiting somewhere new.

My puppy Remy is absolutely not tired after an hour walk. He needs a few hours of exercise and play per day, if possible.

Is 30 mins of exercise just enough to make a dog hyper

39 thoughts on “Is a half-hour of exercise just enough to make a dog hyper?”

  1. Great in-site here. It seems to me you are correct about this, although I’m only going from experience with my own dog. He definitely does not get nearly enough excersice, but when we decide to go out for a walk, it’s always only half and hour. Sometimes he’s barely tired out. I’ll have to try longer walks. It will be good for the humans too.

  2. “Turn left when you would normally turn right. Visit new neighborhoods. Visit every park in your town. Head to the country.”
    Those are really good suggestions Lindsay, and I plan to utilize them all! I mean… why should we take the same route with our pooches every day? It’s convenient for humans because we are comfortable with the norm, but dogs need more variety. We often forget this fact. I will have to start planning new routes/parks to visit with my dogs for our next few walks. Thanks for the great ideas.

  3. Great blog post! After I read it I did some soul searching and realized my monkeys have been getting the same walk (the same route) for the last few weeks, so last night we changed it up and took a different route, and you know what? It actually made a difference!

  4. I have to agree with your post. After a 1/2 hour run, my mutt rushes through the house to the back door, ready to go out again. Or he grabs a toy and runs around the house with it. I’m gradually increasing my running distance and time, but it won’t be enough unless we run a marathon every day. I’ve decided that it is impossible for us to physically tire him out, so we are going to have to focus on mentally tiring him out. I did run in a new direction today, and he turned to look at me like, “What are we doing?” Running on streets with traffic makes him nervous, so I’m hoping that running in those situations will help mentally tire him out as well.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Some dogs are just never physically tired. Sounds like you might have one of those dogs! Focusing on mentally tiring him out is definitely your best bet!

  5. Hi
    I follow your blog, but have never posted before. However, I do notice this with my dogs Bentley and Charlie. They enjoy a 30 min run, but sometimes just sprint around the house afterward, like it never happened. I especially notice this in the fall and winter. During the summer months, a 20 minute walk in the heat will whipe my guys for an hour or two.

    I also notice a cumulative effect with the dogs. If they don’t get enough exersie a couple days in a row, they are wild. If I can run them maybe three times a week, this maintains more calmness in the house.

    Anyway. I love your blog. Ace is a handsome guy. I love his more distinguished look around the muzzle these days too.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      Thanks so much for following my blog and for leaving a comment. Nice to meet you! I notice that my dog gets really wild if he hasn’t had any exercise for three or four days like you said. But if he gets consistent exercise, he’s fine if we miss a day. I’ll tell Ace you like his distinguished look! 🙂

  6. I walk my dog 30-60 minutes a day (depending on the weather) and constantly change the walking path to make it more interesting. I also go to the dog park or an open field at least a couple of times a week, so that my dog can get a good run in. This seems to do the trick : )

  7. Good advice. And just think, some people never walk their dog at all! Can’t imagine the behavioral problems my 2 yr old Field Lab would have if we didn’t go out daily. Usually I jog (3-6 miles) 5-6 times a week. Often stop at the elementary school to let her race around off the leash for a awhile. And we have a huge fenced-in yard. Often when we get back, she’s just warmed up and doing laps with a toy around the yard! We have a “rails to trails” trail here in town (20 miles!), and we’re just 20 minutes from L. Michigan so you’re right about VARIETY. We take her on vacations up to Ontario. My dog might still be hyper, but she’s quite manageable and I think it’s due to all the variety and stimulation she’s had. Burning off that excess energy must be dealt with daily… her batteries recharge quickly! We call her bursts of energy “power surges”. :o)

  8. Yeah some people think if they take their dog to the dog park for a few hours one day, the dog should still be tired the next day. Not the case for most dogs. They are re-charged each day! Your dog is one lucky pup! She will probably have less energy as she gets a bit older, too.

  9. I just had an Ah ha moment after reading this post.

    I take Nori for her first walk to my daughter’s school then we go and play with a flirt stick, frisbee and ball for about 15 to 20 min. All in all its 30 to 40 mins. Then we head home. But just after putting the toys away Nori has a mini tantrum, where she begins barking and leans on me. If I move she has jumped on me and even mouthed. She is 6 months. I used to put her into a sit but this seemed to escalate to situation and turn into a big scene. I have changed my tatics, I become silent and motionless. I give her nothing. I wait about 15 seconds after she stops barking then move in the opposite direction she seems to just let it go, sometimes.

    I am wondering if I have amped her up and ended the game to soon? I usually quit when she seems tired or on the verge of bordem. I also change up and do flirt stick, frisbee and fetch and end with flirt stick.

    I also switch up days to walks in the woods off leash for 40 mins, but she sometimes will throw a mini tantrum after that as well.

    Any suggestions or insight is appreciated.

    BTW great blog

  10. I have found when I get back from taking my Simon out from his walk which is anywhere from 20-40 minutes a day, I give him a Kong which I’ve put treats in and frozen with plain yoghurt. This keeps him occupied for at least 30 minutes and then he is completely calm. Simon is 3 years old, neutered mix. Not sure of the breeds. Does anyone know where I could send a photo of him and get an idea of his genes? I’ve thought of a DNA test, but have heard they are not that accurate, and I’m pretty cheap.

  11. Lindsay Stordahl

    Only a small number of genes determine a dog’s appearance, so unfortunately when we try to guess a dog’s breed based on looks, we are usually wrong. It’s still fun to guess though. Do you have a pic of your dog you could share?

    1. Thank you, Lindsay. I’d love to send a photo of Simon, but can’t figure out how to attach it. I didn’t realize that it was only a small number of genes that determine a dog’s appearance, so that is helpful.

  12. Thank you for this post! I’ve been struggling recently with providing enough exercise for my dogs. In the past I have found the dog park to be hugely helpful for this but have determined one of my dogs just doesn’t have good enough manners for off-leash play with unfamiliar dogs. So now it’s just walks and it’s not the same! We (the humans in our household) have been hit recently with these lovely fall viruses and coming up short on walks. Ugh. I may hire a dog walker a couple of times a week to help out. Lindsay, how did you manage to walk dogs during the snowy winters? I can manage the cold but am worried about icy roads. In the past I’ve had just one dog to walk and thanks to the dog park, able to walk a little less.

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I’ve definitely wiped out on the ice a few times, but for the most part I managed just fine 🙂 I usually just wore my usual running shoes with warm socks. I had a pretty good grip with them I guess. The hardest part would be when sidewalks were not shoveled. I felt it was dangerous to run in the street in some areas, so I had to pick routes with clear sidewalks or I would be running/walking right through the snow. Sometimes having one dog on each side helped with balance, too 🙂

  13. Hi Lindsay, good article

    All of my sessions are 30 minutes in duration… some dogs are relaxed after, and some need more. I make it a point to tell clients that my canine running service is simply a supplement to their dog’s overall exercise needs.

    I’ve never felt it’s good for a dog owner to completely leave it up to someone else for their dogs complete exercise needs. Walking a dog is a bonding experience that all dog owners should have with their own canines. I’m simply there to be an extra outlet.

    Aloha,
    Dustin

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      I agree. When I’m running or walking someone’s dog, I notice a difference between the dogs that never get out and the dogs that are also exercised by their owners in addition to me. The dogs that are exercised by their owners are generally happier, better trained and less stressed.

  14. Well, we had it all figured out … and then came Cookie. None of the normal rules apply with her. Does the length of the walk make more difference for her than the “speed?” Not really. Unless you walk around with her for four hours or so and then she might get somewhat tired. I know that because I tried that.

    So, interestingly, with her, the “speed” seems to be more instrumental in getting her tired (or at least content) than the length. Go figure.

  15. Love reading these posts. This is our first dog so I’m always looking for advice.
    I often wonder if we are walking our puppy too much – she’s 6 month old cocker spaniel and gets 2 x 40min – 1 hr walks per day. People stop and tell me don’t walk her too much as she will expect more and longer walks???? What do you think – am I walking her too much?
    BTW I’ve lost half a stone since we got her!!! lol

    1. Lindsay Stordahl

      That seems like a good amount to me. You can always substitute with more trick or obedience training if you want but I think you’re doing great. That’s about the amount of time I walk my weimaraner puppy, 9 months. I know it’s not quite enough for him so I look for other ways to tire him out like visiting new places.

  16. I am walking Moses (my lab pointer) about 2hrs to 2hrs30mins a day. In addition to enjoying his company, I am losing weight, lowering my blood pressure, and have an increased incentive to eat healthy food.

  17. I don’t know when you wrote about this before, but I took it to heart and have tried harder to give Harry more exercise and variety is helping a lot. Today we went for a 30-45 minute walk, then went to puppy playtime at Petco and later the park where we walked and then played with another dog. Even after all of that, he wanted to play after dinner….. a little indoor fetch and tug of rope. He finally just conked out :o) He has a lot more energy than I do, but mixing things up, helps me too. Thank you for putting this advice out there for us new parents!!!

  18. Time. Time, that is what we all need to spend with our “Puppies”. But I never realized that the length of the walk was more important than the speed of the walk. Kinda makes sense to me. I am gona try to make my walks longer… even though I walk Dakotah 2, 3 and sometimes 4 outings a day. He is an extremely High Energy GSD/Husky. I’ll let you and the others know how it works out.
    Thanks for the info,
    -Chuck

      1. I’m a little late in responding -but- it did help. I still go out twice a day and sometimes 3 but I acquired an app for my Smartphone called Pacer. It not only keeps track of the time but also the distance and images of your daily tracks. It can be obtained from the PlayStore and it is free unless you want coaching.

  19. exercise for dogs… like you mentioned it varies tremendously by breed. I have had 2 huskies and they were literally breed to run all day. I have done the local 1/2 marathon the last 3 years and use my dog as a “training buddy” along with my mom, and Okami carries an old outbound hound backpack like http://www.trailspace.com/gear/outward-hound/quick-release-dog-backpack/

    she carries 2 ~1/2 full 64oz apple cider bottles refilled with water, a fabric “water bowl” and while she sometimes gets thirsty (mitigated by stopping to let her have a drink from the water she is carrying) she never really gets “tired” even after we walked 14 miles! all she really wanted was to “rest” for about an hour or so, and then she would have been perfectly happy to do the walk AGAIN!!

    I will say that if she doesn’t get regular 1+ mile walks she goes a little crazy, this can of course be tremendously mitigated by trips to the off leash dog park where the dog can really play their own way with other dogs.

  20. We have a GSD, and technically they need plenty of exercise, but – as our dog has not come from a good place, no socialization etc – he is very anxious and reactive towards various situations. We have found it doesn’t matter how long he goes out for – so long as he goes. As we know our dog we have found that the psychological needs are much greater than the physical need for a walk. For example if he got a 15 minute “good quality” walk, that is better than a 3 hour stressful interactive walk.

  21. 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.

  22. 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…..

  23. 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!

  24. 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!

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