Exercise Guidelines for Dog Breeds

Every healthy dog needs 30 to 46 minutes of exercise a day, says Bob McKowen, a dog show and field trail judge in Leola, Pennsylvania. Exercise can mean all sorts of active dog-fun things. For a tiny dog, a proper workout could be accomplished without having to leave a studio apartment. Medium to large dogs might need a brisk two mile walk or a vigorous play session inside a spacious fenced park or yard. It all depends on your dog’s breed or body type and her age.

What’s Right for your Dog?
When working out how much and what kind of exercise your dog needs, consider her breed or, if she’s a mixed breed, look at her body to get some clues about what you think she’d like to get up to. Your dog is probably no longer doing what her ancestors were bred to do, but if you can match her exercise needs to her breed needs, she’ll get the maximum out of her daily routine and enjoy it all so much more. And whatever you settle on, just make sure you always include a warm up of simple stretches and a cool down afterward.

The All-American Mix:
With a mixed breed dog, let her size and the activities that she most enjoys guide you when setting up an exercise regimen just for her. If she’s medium to large, start with a 20 minute walk or jog twice a day, followed by 10 minutes of her favorite game, be it chasing a Frisbee or ball, playing tag or swimming. If she’s print-size, exercise her in the same way as any toy breed.

Sporting Types:
These breeds, which include spaniels, pointers, setters and retrievers, as well as the Vizsla and Weimaraner, thrive on vigorous outdoor activity. They also enjoy activities with a mental challenge. A brisk 20 minutes of strenuous play, gets a sporting dog off to a good start. This should be repeated later in the day, or let her have a good swim instead if she likes water.

Hound Dogs:
Sight hound were originally bred to run down speedy prey. So their ideal exercise program could include 20 minutes of brisk walking and jogging, followed by an opportunity to stretch out and run (in safely fenced area) for 5 or 10 minutes. If there’s no place to let your hound run, set aside 30 minutes for the two of you to have a morning jog. She will also relish a game of chase after a long, brisk walk.

Scent hounds, which worked at a slower pace with their noses to the ground, tend to be a little more laid-back. Give your scent hounds a walk and jog for 20 to 25 minutes, unless you can persuade her to play ball or tag with you for part of the time. Any dog with a breed name that includes “retriever” will enjoy a game of fetch catch, and she’ll also love swimming. Most spaniels like to fetch and are also partial to a swim. While small enough to get a certain amount of exercise from playing indoor games, Dachshunds still need a 15-minute walk every morning. Whichever workout fits your hound, do it again in the evening.

The Workers:
Working dogs traditionally kept going for as long as their services were needed, herding livestock in all weathers. Give your working dog a work out for 20 to 30 minutes every morning by walking and jogging with her, or combine walking with some strenuous game playing in the yard. Repeat this later in the day or take her for a good long swimming session instead.

Terriers always led very active lives – they were constantly busy hunting and sniffing out prey. Large terriers need a brisk walk lasting for 2 to 30 minutes of rowdy play in the yard. Some of them also enjoy a swim. Do it again in the evening. Smaller or less active terriers will stay in shape with a 15 minute walk morning and evening, provided you play some indoor games together each day. Terriers love the chase; some will fetch too, while others prefer to “play-kill” a toy. Most can also be easily taught games such as hide-and-seek and tag.

Dedicated lap sitters, toys are probably the least active of all dogs. A 15 minute walk morning and evening is enough for most tiny dogs, provided they are also encouraged to play indoor games. If you can’t manage long walks, teach your dog to retrieve a ball – then you can exercise her from your recliner. Many toy breeds have a strong instinct to chase and retrieve, so a bouncy ball the right size for her mouth or a small Frisbee will make the ideal basis for a game.

Non-Sporty Types:
Non sporting dogs are a varied lot, and certainly not the couch potatoes that their group name suggests. So look at your dog’s size and body style before establishing an exercise program. For example, the smaller ones, such as the Boston terrier, Schipperke and Bichon Frise, need the same amount of exercise as the smaller members of the terrier group. However, the Keeshond, Standard Poodle, Finnish Spitz and Dalmatian should be exercised in the same way as any sporting or working dog.

The Herders:
These dogs are noted for their stamina. A brisk walk or jog for 20 to 30 minutes, along with some time to chase balls or flying Frisbees, will start your herding dog’s day off right. You could either repeat this in the evening or take her for a swim. And with her energy and her intelligence, she will find games with a purpose, such as hide – and – seek, especially appealing.

The Custom – Made Constitutional:
You know your dog better than anyone, so that makes you her ideal personal trainer. When you are developing an exercise program especially tailored to her needs, there are a few things, in addition to the type of dog she is, that you should keep in mind.

A dog that seems exhausted after her workout may want less of a good thing. And if there is abrupt change in your dog’s attitude toward exercise and she suddenly tires easily, she could be ill, so take her to your vet. A noisy or destructive dog probably isn’t getting a long enough work out. Try giving her more exercise.

The breeds with a super short nose, such as the bulldog or pug, often have difficulty with breathing. If your dog is in this category, go easy with her exercise program. Be especially cautious when the weather is humid because of the risk of heatstroke, and always exercise her during the coolest part of the day.

A dog that is overweight or just plain out of shape should never start out with a full fledged workout. Instead, give her a quarter of the recommended amount of exercise for two weeks; increase this to half the recommended amount for a couple of weeks, and then increase it again to three quarters for another two weeks. By the end of six weeks, she should be ready to go the distance.

For the dog that is starting to show her age, make her workout sessions lighter, but don’t stop altogether. Exercise keeps older dogs stimulated and supple, and helps their bodies to stay fit.