No two dogs are exactly the same, so it goes without saying that no two dogs have identical exercise and sleep requirements. The dog’s size, breed, and overall health all affect the optimal amount of physical activity they should engage in each day.
But there are general rules dog parents can follow to ensure their furry friends move around and stay healthy – and the best pet health insurance can help that happen.
In general, puppies – dogs younger than a year old – have more energy than adult dogs, regardless of size. Puppies should be exercised in short bursts because they also need to sleep a lot.
Several play sessions and short walks throughout the day keep your puppy content without overtiring them. Interactive toys and safe chews can also help entertain your fur baby and contribute to their overall activity for the day.
Your puppy’s breeder or veterinarian can provide more specific exercise recommendations based on breed and personality, however.
Small companion dog breeds – think the shih tzu, lhasa apso, and Pekingese, for example – tend to have less demanding exercise requirements than larger breeds. More athletic small dogs, like the Papillion, need more physical activity, however.
Consider active larger breeds, like the labrador retriever, border collie, or standard poodle. These dogs tend to have more energy than others, requiring extra exercise, especially in their young adult years. But certain giant breeds, like the Great Dane or St. Bernard, don’t need as much physical activity throughout the day, either.
A good rule of thumb is to remember that all dogs are different. Ensure your dog gets the equivalent exercise of three walks per day, plus interaction and attention interspersed. And just like with puppies, your veterinarian or breeder can help advise you on what your specific dog needs to be happy and healthy.
As dogs age, they have fewer exercise requirements and can develop arthritis and other mobility issues. In fact, some senior dogs need exercise restrictions more than the actual exercise itself.
Low-impact exercises, like walking or jogging on softer surfaces (think a grassy yard) are best for older dogs. You and your veterinarian have the knowledge to determine the best level of exercise for your senior dog – just make sure your furry friend still gets mental stimulation throughout the day.
Dog Exercise Ideas
Need to entertain an active dog? Consider these fun activities.
Daily walks: Dogs without mobility issues will love to take a leisurely or brisk stroll with their favorite humans. It is particularly enriching to be able to explore the world outside! Be sure to keep them on a leash and check that the pavement temperatures aren’t too hot or cold for their paw pads.
Brain-stimulating games: Treat puzzles, hide and seek, and nose work are all great brain-stimulating games that can physically tire out your dog without any rigorous movement at all. These are great for dogs of all ages, and some, like a peanut butter-filled sturdy chew toy, are safe for passing the time when your dog is home alone, too.
Fetch in the backyard: Dogs who live for their flying disc or ball will adore playing fetch in the backyard. A few fetch sessions a day is adequate exercise for many dog breeds.
Playing with other doggy friends: Dogs who like other dogs and are well socialized can burn energy by playing with other dogs at home or the local dog park. Just be sure your pet is happy during their dog-to-dog interactions and are fully vaccinated.
Obedience and trick training: Like brain-stimulating games, learning tricks or practicing obedience, including loose-leash walking, basic manners, or more advanced moves are necessary for robust doggie exercise. Where walking tires a dog physically, their brain is still thinking about what to do next – and that can get them in trouble. With obedience and trick training, your dog is both physically and mentally tired and ready to relax when you are. This type of brain stimulation can also help reduce destructive behaviors at home.
How Pet Insurance Can Help
If you notice an unexpected change in your dog’s activity levels, it may be worthwhile to take them to the vet for an exam and tests. If you have dog health insurance, your coverage could significantly defray the cost of treatment.
But don’t wait until your pet isn’t feeling like themselves to buy a policy. Start shopping for the best insurance now, when you don’t need it, so you’re ready for when you do.