How Long should I walk my dog?

It’s recommended that you take your dog out for 3 to 5 potty breaks each day. At least two of those should be walks. Walks are not only an opportunity for your dog to relieve themselves, but they’re also a chance for your pup to exercise, explore, and take in new smells. For many dogs, walks are the highlight of their day.

One of the first things new dog parents wonder is, “how long should I walk my dog?” We see some of our neighbors walk their dogs at the same times each day, but then others only seem to take their dogs out when they have to. So, how do you know what your new dog needs? How long and how often do they need to go outside?

How Often do you walk your dog?

Walking is the most common form of exercise for dogs, and all dogs need exercise, whether they’re big or small. However, the amount of exercise that your dog receives depends on their age, breed, weight, and activity level. A walk refers to when you walk a distance with your dog, such as around the neighborhood. If you only take them out to use the bathroom, that’s not the same thing as a walk.

Now, the duration of those walks greatly varies from dog to dog. Some dogs will be okay with a simple walk around the block while others might want to walk for miles. So, make sure you thoroughly research the expectations of your new dog’s breed before bringing them home. Some active breeds might even need more intense exercise than walks, such as hiking, running, and swimming. check out our article on the best dog harnesses for hiking for more info on that.

How Long Should I Walk a Puppy?

Since puppies are much smaller than adult dogs, they also need much less exercise. Puppies don’t need long walks like adult dogs. Instead, they benefit best from brief walks around the yard or down the street, depending on how old they are.

A good rule of thumb is to exercise them for 5 minutes at a time per months old. This can be once or twice a day depending on your puppy’s age. So, when a puppy is 3 months old, they’ll get 15 minutes of exercise at a time, and so on. It might not sound like a lot, but puppies actually need more time to sleep than adult dogs do.

It’s important not to overwork a puppy because too much physical activity could permanently damage their developing joints. If your puppy hurts their joints at a young age, that could contribute to early arthritis. Be extra gentle with your puppy as they grow.

Following the 5-minute recommendations can be helpful until your puppy is full-grown. Once your puppy is about a year old, you can stick to adult dog recommendations instead.

How Long Should I Walk My Dog Each Day?

2 persons walking with 2 dogs on a leash

Even though adult dogs need more exercise than puppies, all adult dogs have unique needs. Most dogs need between 30 minutes and two hours of exercise each day. You can give them that exercise all at once, but most dog parents prefer to break it up into smaller sessions, especially if they have an overly active dog. Two or three walks a day is common for most dogs.

The dogs who need the most exercise aren’t always the largest breeds. Some small dogs have loads of energy while some larger breeds are lazier. Thus, choosing a walking schedule for your dog can vary based on their personal needs.

You can walk your dog for as long as you’d like, but only if they’re comfortable with it. If your dog wants to walk further than usual, there’s no harm in doing so. But if your dog is panting heavily or dragging behind you, then it might be time to take a break and resume walking later. Your dog needs plenty of exercise, but don’t work them too hard. Once you get to know your dog’s exercise preferences, you can create a set schedule to help you manage their walks better.

For advice on harnesses and leashes check out our articles on chew proof dog harnesses and chew proof dog leashes.

How Long Should I Walk My Senior Dog?

As your dog gets older, they might not be able to keep up as much during walks. Most dogs become seniors between 8 and 10 years old, and during that time, they might start to slow down or be more uncomfortable while exercising. Then, you might need to readjust your dog’s exercise schedule when this happens.

You can still walk for however long you were before, but maybe take it easier. Go slower and break their exercise time up into smaller sections if needed. It might seem tedious and take more time, but it will help your senior dog stay in shape without working themselves too hard. If at any point your older dog shows signs of pain or discomfort, take a break from walking for the time being.

All dogs age at different rates, so some senior dogs might still be active and lively while others would rather sleep all day. You’re the best judge of your dog’s preferences, so make sure you’re always choosing what’s best for them.

How Long Should I Wait to Walk My Dog After Eating?

It’s common for families to walk their dogs right before or after feeding them. But as it turns out, this is not the best time for exercise of any kind. It’s similar to the rule for humans where you shouldn’t swim within 30 minutes of eating.

If you recently walked your dog, wait 30 minutes before feeding them. On the other hand, if you recently fed them, you should wait about an hour before walking them. This might seem inconvenient if you’re in a hurry, but it will keep your dog the safest.

Walking and eating too close together could result in bloat. Bloat is a digestive problem in dogs that causes their stomach to enlarge, sort of like a balloon. In some cases, the stomach could twist while doing this, trapping gas inside and potentially cutting off circulation. In extreme cases, this could be fatal for dogs.

So, if you’re able, space your dog’s eating and exercising out more. It’ll keep them the most comfortable and healthier too.

How Soon Can I Walk My Dog After Spaying or Neutering?

After your dog gets spayed or neutered, they need to take it easy. That means regular walks are probably out of the question. Instead, they should spend their time relaxing and healing. They’ll likely even need to wear a cone to prevent them from biting and scratching their wound.

Vets recommend that you don’t walk your dog within 48 hours of spaying or neutering. Some vets even require a post-surgery check-up about three days or more after the procedure. If possible, don’t walk your dog until that check-up. Instead, just take them out in the yard and limit their time outside. Your dog might be frustrated that they can’t run and play like usual, but they might also be grateful for the opportunity to rest.

Then, after a few days, you can take your dog for walks if they seem strong enough, but don’t push it. Start with short walks around the block before working your way up from there. It might take up to 10 days for your dog to fully heal from surgery, so you’ll have to wait until then to resume your usual walking schedule.

Even if your dog wants to go on long walks while they’re healing, it’s better not to until you’re confident that they’re feeling better. You might have to keep them confined to a smaller area if you’re worried about them running around and jumping on things.

Walking is the Key to a Healthy Canine!

All dogs need walks, no matter how lazy they are. But if you’re wondering how long you should walk your dog, just know that it depends on your dog’s specific needs. Consider their age, weight, breed, and activity level when setting up a walking schedule. As you get to know your dog, you can choose the perfect balance for their exercise needs.

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Peter Schoeman