Taking Your Dog for a Walk – How Much is Enough?

How much exercise should your dog get?

The requirements vary based on the breed and with each individual dog.

Some breeds have lower physical demands and remember size doesn’t determine that. Breeds like Pointers, Retrevers, Border Collies and Jack Russells are extremely high-energy dogs. They may require several hours of excersize and stimulation every day.   

This doesn’t mean that you have to walk them for two hours, it just means that they need something to do (a job if you will) that will keep them busy for at least two hours per day.

If your dog runs with you or plays with other dogs, chases a ball or frisbee every day, or has an outlet to burn off his energy and have fun then walks are not as big ofa deal. But this is still not a replacement for walking! Your dog still needs to go for walks in order to interact (socialize) with his environment, other humans and other dogs.

As I mentioned in yesterdays blog, walking helps to provide mental stimulation and the exposure to new people, animals and situations helps to build it’s confidence. Learning to deal with different circumstances is part of socialization. A well socialized dog is more predictable and better rounded. It makes it much more fun to be around, and is much less likely to destroy your home and property.

Walking is also a great way to bond with your dog, and don’t forget all the health benefits for yourself.

OK, now that you are ready to walk and interact with your dog everyday, here’s a good rule of thumb to go by.

All dogs need your complete attention for at least one hour per day. Larger dog add ½ hour. Extreamly large dogs – add 1 hour.

You can divide this time up how every you wish. I divide my time into 15 min pieces. We play with toys twice a day for 15 mins each, we go out and play with the neighbor dogs for about ½ hour per day, and then we walk for about ½ hour.  

If you plan to JUST walk your dog, Small Dogs, (those who are under 15 pounds), need to walk at least a half mile per day. Medium dogs – 1 mile, Large dogs – 1.5 miles, and Very Large dogs – 2 miles or more per day. These numbers should keep your dog at a fairly calm level. Bur remember, a tired dog is a happy dog. And a happy dog doesn’t get into trouble.

Just remember to factor in to this, the natural energy level of your dog. If you have a hyper active dog you could about double these numbers. Subtract the energy level of an older or more calm breed and you can reduce these numbers a bit.

Tomorrow: Rules For Dog Walkers

Mental Health Days With Your Dog

The hustle and bustle of life can really twist you up and wear you down. Stress is a killer, and is one of the major causes for illness and poor health in adults today.

It is a fact that when you have daily interaction with your pet it offers a lot of calming, mood-enhancing benefits. A recent study found that people with serious illnesses were less likely to suffer from depression if they owned a pet.

Yes, it’s possible for me to used ACE inhibiting drugs to reduce my blood pressure. But they aren’t as effective on controlling spikes in blood pressure due to stress and tension. And besides that, I don’t role that way!

In a recent study, a group of hyper-tense New York stockbrokers who got dogs or cats were found to have lower blood pressure and heart rates than those who didn’t have pets. When they heard of the results, most of those in the non-pet group went out and got pets!

Now I’m no rocket scientist, but this should tell us ALL something! And it shouldn’t take a Mack Truck hitting us to get our attention.

I have personally found that it’s completely impossible to stay in a bad mood when a pair of loving puppy’s eyes are looking into mine. When I get home in the evening it doesn’t matter how bad my day has been. When I walk through that door my focus changes completely. But sometimes it just isn’t enough.

For over 15 years I have been taking one day per month, and used it as something I like to call a “Mental Health Day” … By that I mean: I Unplug, Turn Off, Shut Down, Get Out, and Get Away with my dogs.

This past Sunday was one of those days.

After “sleeping in” for an extra hour or so, I got up. I let the dog out to do “her thing” and announced to the neighborhood that she was out and on-guard. About an hour later I met some friends for a nice leisurely brunch at a nearby restaurant.

Afterward it was back home to relax and unwind for the day. I opened the door, grabbed the leash and we were off for a nice long walk. On our walk we ran into several dogs and their owners. On a few occasions we stopped to chat and swap a few stories. Then we were back on the walk.

At the end of the walk we stopped to visit my next door neighbor who was busy working in his yard. While we talked, we turned our dogs loose to run around the yard and play. We had a blast watching them, and they were having a lot more fun than we were.

Before I realized it, most of the afternoon had passed. But I wasn’t surprised … or upset. I was however, completely relaxed.

After returning home, we went inside. I joined the dog on the living room floor and we played with her toys for awhile. When she had gotten enough playtime she went out to the kitchen for a drink of water. Then she settled down on her doggie bed and closed her eyes.

I made a quick bite to eat and settled into my recliner. I turned on the TV and promptly fell asleep. After a few hours, I got up and went to bed!!!

What a GREAT DAY!!!


NOTE: It is important to note that owning a pet isn’t for everyone. Pets require additional work and responsibility, which can bring its own kind of stress. However, for most, the benefits of having a pet outweigh this extra work. Having a cuddly best friend can reduce stress in your life and bring you support when times are tough.