Big or small, young or old – all dogs need exercise, not just for their physical and mental health but also to help develop and maintain social skills.
However, it can be difficult to work out how long or how far we should be walking our four-legged friends. In fact, one of the most commonly asked questions by dog owners is, “how much exercise does my dog need?”
Siobhan Griffin (pictured above) at Lintbells, manufacturers of the popular YuMOVE supplement, says the appropriate level of activity for your dog should be considered at every stage of their life – right from when a pup enters your home through to their senior years.
In this article, Siobhan shares some advice on recommended exercise routines, particularly in these two stages of our dog’s lives.
Puppies have a lot of energy, but they tire out quickly and do not need as much exercise as an adult dog. In fact, over exercising your puppy can affect their joints and overall joint health in the long term.
It is therefore important that a puppy’s exercise routine is focused on training and socialisation, and not focused on getting an energetic exercise routine in every day. It is usually recommended that owners allow five minutes of exercise per month of age for your puppy, up to twice a day. For instance, if your puppy is four months old, then 20 minutes of exercise, up to twice a day, should be enough to keep them happy and healthy.
At this stage in your dog’s life, it is also important to make sure their bodies and minds are stimulated in the right way. Allowing your dog to explore your back garden is a good start but is not enough to keep them mentally stimulated. New spaces and open environments like parks and woods are favourable as your puppy will be able to explore new sounds and smells whilst also learning to socialise with other dogs. In these instances, owners should always make sure to keep their pups on a lead until they have been taught a sound recall.
It is important to remember that older dogs still need exercise and, much like people, they stay happier and healthier if they exercise regularly. Keep an eye on your dog’s general fitness and consider changing your daily walking routine to more frequent but shorter, easier strolls.
You may also need to alter your walking habits altogether. To make sure you are not tiring your dog out too much, consider cutting down the amount of time you allow your dog to run around off the lead and play games such as fetch. Remember that wearing them out too much may cause discomfort the following day.
Hydrotherapy and swimming sessions are good alternatives to give your older dog exercise. The buoyancy of the water will reduce stress on your dog’s joints while still exercising their muscles.
As your dog gets older, and less able to cope with the exercise they once did, try to exercise their minds instead. Games that engage their brains such as hide and seek are a great way to mentally stimulate your dog with reduced physical exercise.
To help owners and their dogs, Lintbells has developed a new and exciting exercise calculator. This tool allows owners to input their dog’s name and breed to calculate the optimum amount of time and miles they should be walking with their dog. It also provides extra information if you have a younger or more senior dog but if you are concerned about your dog’s mobility it is best to always speak to you vet.
The Lintbells exercise calculator is available here: https://www.lintbells.com/pages/dog-exercise-calculator
For more information about Lintbells please visit www.lintbells.com or to speak to a member of the team please call 01462 416866.