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Does My Dog Need a Rest Day?

I can’t believe I’m writing this but I give my dog rest days.

I’m the one who preaches “walk your dog EVERY day” and “never miss a day.” And I mean that. I believe in it strongly.

I believe it is important for a dog to get a walk every day or nearly every day. In general, most dogs need more walks and exercise than they’re getting.

Increasing a dog’s exercise is my #1 training tip, always. (See this post.)

But on the other hand … I have a canine athlete who does distance running and agility. By distance running, I mean he will run up to 18 miles while I’m training for ultramarathons (although most runs are much shorter).

Last weekend, we ran 18 miles on the Mickelson Trail in South Dakota.

After two days of almost 10 miles each, we took a rest day.

Found this iron chäir. Yes, we will rest.

My dog is a pet, but he is also a working dog in his own way. He gives 110% at all times to whatever he’s doing. He’s all drive.

And don’t forget mental exercise.

Agility class tires my dog out mentally. He also goes to dog daycare once a week (physical and mental exercise) and we have employees coming and going from our house on weekdays, which keeps Remy on his toes.

All of these things are great for my smart, active young weimaraner.

But while Remy has more energy than most, he still needs a break.

So on one weekend day a week, we rest.

And my dog embraces our rest days fully. Just as he gives 110% to pulling me up a hill or plowing through the agility course, my dog knows how to take a rest day seriously too.

And by that, I mean Remy vedges out on his back, sprawled out across his bed with all four legs in the air for pretty much the whole day.

And he sleeps HARD. Harder than he does during the week. And he yips and runs in his dreams.

Of course, my dog still has energy (he always does), and if I decided not to take a rest day he would be totally cool with charging up a mountain.

HOWEVER, I think a true rest day is a nice break for my dog and I both to recharge, with truly nothing going on.

We really embrace “work hard, play hard, crash hard.”

If we do a walk on our rest day, it’s a relaxing 1 or 2 miles on a leash around the neighborhood for “active recovery.”

Does Your Dog Need a Rest Day?

That’s for you to decide.

I realize that true working dogs might rarely or never get an “easy” day. Remy is pretty pampered compared to a working ranch dog, police dog or guide dog.

Every dog is different with different “jobs” and we all do different activities with our dogs.

We also know most pet dogs are not getting enough exercise so we don’t want to give people yet another reason to skip a walk.

On the other hand … if you do walk your dog every single day, a rest day or a day of doing something else (like fetch or playing in the yard together or swimming) might be a nice change.

Or if you’ve introduced a new running or walking routine for your dog lately or if you’ve recently increased your mileage, he would absolutely appreciate a rest day. He might still have energy – most dogs do – but rest is still an important thing for all of us (mentally and physically).

My dog’s “schedule” looks something like this, depending on where I’m at in my own training:

  • Monday: 3 mile run + agility class
  • Tuesday: 5 mile run
  • Wednesday: 1/2 mile walk + full day of doggy daycare
  • Thursday: 1 hour walk + agility practice
  • Friday: 3 mile run
  • Saturday: Long run 5 to 18 miles
  • Sunday: Rest or short walk

I’m just using common sense and I know myself and my own dog pretty well by now. Obviously breed and age play a huge role. My dog is a hunting breed meant to run in the field all day, and he’s been slowly building his endurance all his life.

No matter what your dog’s “work” is, whether it’s obedience class, agility, therapy work, hanging out at your office or daily walks, he might appreciate a “day off” every now and then where he can mentally check out or just enjoy an easy stroll.

I believe in hard work and I love to push myself (100 miles, here I come!). However, because of this I also know the importance of rest.

My dog and I are the same in that way.

How about the rest of you?

Do you give your dog “rest days”?

Let me know in the comments!


Related posts:

Alvin Kempf

Wednesday 25th of August 2021

My English Shepard ( 4 years old ) will not give ME a rest day. Walk and chase tennis balls all day !

Lindsay Stordahl

Thursday 26th of August 2021



Sunday 13th of September 2020

Well, my dogs are older and smaller and far more sedate. We generally walk 1-3mi a day or go for a 1-2mi bike ride. We go 5- 6 days a week; they're 10 & 13yo cockers, and are more than happy with that! They love to go out but are also quite happy to hang at home even for a few days in a row so long as they are right with me.

Lindsay Stordahl

Sunday 13th of September 2020

Aww, such good dogs!

Kara Luker

Sunday 13th of September 2020

This was very helpful! I have a very energetic 5 month old sheepadoodle puppy and we have recently discovered dog parks where she expends a LOT of energy. We later take a walk or play fetch or both, but the importance of rest is good to keep in mind. Im guessing you’ve already addressed this in previous blogs (we are new), but what age did you start agility training?

Lindsay Stordahl

Sunday 13th of September 2020

My dog was 2 years but I'll probably start my next dog around 6 months on things like tunnels and basics that don't involve jumping.


Sunday 13th of September 2020

When we do backpacking trips with the dogs (15-20km per day for 4-5 days), there is always a rest day on the trail (max. 5km and lots of play-sleep-repeat time) and then a rest day by a river or lake when get back to the car. Otherwise, if it's normal life, we do the same thing (3 walks per day) and vary the locations or activities, eg. if it's a sunny day with still water, both me and the pups will take the shortest walk down to the fjord then splash and splash.


Wednesday 22nd of July 2020

After reading that, maybe I should just give my little dog a little break from walks for a few days. :P

For the past two weeks, she had been pulling to go home when we go out (We've had her for 4 years), the most probable reason is that I had been frustrated at times over small things and the possible traffic on the main road if we go to a particular field.

I am not proud that I get frustrated in public, I have some issues myself I need to work on (intrusive thoughts, anxiety, possible hypervigilance). I love her so much and I don't mean to do anything bad to her. But I try not to beat myself up too much, as I am still young (16) and always learning and developing to become a better version of myself.

I think that I should give her a break from the walks albeit very short ones (barely half a mile). And we're going away for the weekend, so this should give her some time of preparation and recovery for a real change of air. ;)

Oh, and just in case you were wondering, she is a cross-breed terrier.

Thanks for sharing this article, take care!