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Dog Walking Guide: How Often Do You Walk Your Dog?

two dogs being walked
Dogs love walks more than almost anything else, apart from perhaps treats! We have to take our dogs on walkies to keep them happy and provide mental stimulation. It’s a great chance for them to explore the world, meet other dogs, and develop their social skills and curiosity. A dog that doesn’t go on walks is a sad dog indeed. More than that though, walking provides dogs with much-needed physical activity that keeps them fit and healthy. It helps to strengthen their muscles and joints and gets their blood pumping. It also provides the opportunity for them to get fresh air. Plus, it gives them a place to go to the bathroom; the last thing you want is your dog pooping on your carpet. Yet, when you ask pet parents “How often do you walk your dog?”, the answer is always different. Thankfully, we are here to set the record straight! So whether you're thinking of getting a dog or already own one, keep reading to discover how often you should walk your dog, how long you should walk your dog, and other dog-walking considerations.

Walking Your Dog 101

As a general rule of thumb, all dogs require three or four 15-minute walks per day. This might sound like a lot, and many owners have adopted a different walking schedule to fit around their own routine. However, three or four shorter walks are always better than a single long one. As a bare minimum, dogs should be walked twice per day. In terms of the best time to walk your dog, morning and evening work well. Firstly, this schedule can fit around most working people’s routines. But more importantly, this suits your dog the best. In the morning, dogs need to get outside to take care of their potty business. And in the evening, dogs can expel their last bit of energy before settling down for the night. You must also consider your dog’s feeding and drinking schedules when deciding when to walk your dog. It is best to walk dogs either before eating or two hours after eating. Walking your dog straight after a meal can cause them to bloat or throw up. Also, always ensure they have fresh water available on your return home so they stay properly hydrated.

How Often Should You Walk Your Dog?

We have just given a generalized answer to the question “How many times a day should you walk a dog?” And three to four times per day is an excellent rule to follow in most cases. However, this can vary depending on your dog’s:
  • Breed
  • Health Condition
  • Age and Size
  • Living Conditions

Dog Breed

There are hundreds of different dog breeds, each of which has its own activity needs and physical limitations. However, all breeds can generally be split into two categories: high-energy breeds and low-energy breeds. The length of your walks depends on which of these two categories your dog falls into. High-energy breeds are sporting or working breeds, such as Labrador Retrievers, Dalmatians, Huskies, and Australian Shepherds. Sheepdogs and hunting dogs also fall into this active category. On the other hand, lapdogs are low-energy breeds. This includes breeds such as Bulldogs, Pugs, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. As you would expect, high-energy breeds need lots of exercise and playtime. Therefore, they need more walks than most. Terriers need around three walks that are 20-25 minutes long. Sheepdogs and cattle dogs need around four walks that are 20-25 minutes in length. Hunting dogs also require more walks than most and should be walked for 1.5 hours minimum as a daily requirement.

Health Conditions

The health of your dog can have a large impact on its exercise tolerance. Most healthy dogs can happily walk for the generalized three or four 15-minute walks without bother. And dogs in great physical health can walk for even longer. Many sporting breeds enjoy strenuous activities with their owners such as hour-long hikes or runs together. On the other hand, overweight or obese dogs will struggle with walks. They might only be able to manage 10-minute bursts of walking before getting tired. Dogs with joint issues also have trouble walking. Moreover, neurological conditions can result in reduced energy levels and walking difficulties. This includes myasthenia gravis and degenerative myelopathy.

Age and Size

The age of your dog impacts how many walks it needs. Older dogs typically have reduced energy levels. This is a natural part of aging, and as they slow down they’ll need walks less frequently. Some of the health conditions mentioned above are also a greater risk in older dogs. Arthritis is a major one, which is a degenerative disease of the joints that makes movement painful. Puppies need fewer walks as well. This often confuses owners, as pups have bundles of energy! However, they need to put some of this energy into growth and development and tire them out quickly. It is recommended to give puppies five minutes of walking per month of age. For example, a four-month-old puppy should be walking around 20 minutes per day. The size of your dog also impacts its need for walks. Small dogs tend to be a lot more hyper than larger dogs and need more exercise. The theory for this is that smaller dogs have faster metabolisms and thus more energy to expel. However, this isn’t always the case! The type of breed of your dog will give you a much better gauge of how much exercise they need.

Living Conditions

Your living conditions impact how many walks are needed. Dogs that live in small apartments require more exercise to help regulate their energy levels. As they don’t have much space to move around at home, they value the benefits of walking even more! However, walking is essential even if you have a large yard where your dog can run and play. Your dog will be able to expel some of its energy and will likely remain healthy. However, walking provides more than exercise; it is important for social development and mental stimulation. Therefore, dogs still need to experience the outside world for good mental health and overall happiness. Your schedule also dictates when you are available to take your dog on walks. If you are at work all day, you may only be able to take your dog on a walk in the morning and evening. Others might be able to pop back at lunch and squeeze in a third walk. Or perhaps you have a job that enables you to take your dog with you – then you can walk him whenever you want!

Final Thoughts

Walking is essential for all dogs. It provides physical activity, mental stimulation, social opportunities, and a time and place to do their bathroom business. However, precisely how much walking your dog requires is largely personal. You don’t want to walk your dog too little, but there is such a thing as over-walking too. You need to assess the needs of your dog and get the balance right. We suggest seeing what walks you can feasibly fit around your schedule and taking it from there. Start with 15 minutes of walking each time and see how your dog fares. You can then decrease or increase this time depending on their daily needs.
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