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.
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?
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.