How Many Walks Per Day Does Your Dog Need?
Do you have a nice yard for your dog that is safe and secure? If your dog does not have access to a yard, 3–4 walks per day are generally recommended. If you are potty training a puppy, you may need to go out more often. But, for most healthy adult dogs, 3–4 times per day is the sweet spot. Depending on your dog’s age, breed, and health, each walk should last from 15 minutes minimum for older, less active dogs to 1 hour for young active, healthy breeds.
Walking your dog is so much more than a potty break for your dog. Walks provide mental and physical stimulation for dogs because dogs gather so much information through their sense of smell. In fact, allowing a dog to sniff during the walk will help tire the dog mentally and burn off steam because dogs have a much more refined sense of smell. To a dog, they can discern who has been in the area, whether they are healthy or sick, and even whether they are male or female.
Even if you have a yard though, all dogs benefit from getting out and exploring once or twice per day. We are all spending more time at home than ever and many of us are getting pretty stir-crazy. Your dog likes to get out too even if they have a large yard to run around, it benefits them mentally to sniff new smells and see new things.
Weather, heat, cold, and air quality should be considered before taking a long walk. I do not recommend walking dogs for more than 30 minutes when the temperature is over 90F, even if they are young and healthy. Extreme heat and cold conditions should shorten the walks. Dogs can overheat quickly in the summer, and the sidewalk can be scorching on their paws. In the heat of summer, walking during the coolest times is going to be much safer for both you and your pet. I often suggest walks at a local park on the grass under trees because it is much more tolerable for the dogs and me when it is hot. Plus, parks have water fountains, and it is easy to access water.
Here in California, where I live, we don’t have to worry about freezing temperatures often, but in colder climates, that will be considered. Coats and booties can help in colder climates. If you live in a rainy climate, avoid walking during storms with lightning. Lightning strikes can be deadly, and most dogs are afraid of the sound. You don’t want to lose your dog because they panic in a storm.
If the air quality is poor, shorten the dog walks. For example, most of the West Coast is being devastated by forest fires as I write this. Dogs should not be exercised strenuously or for a long-duration during this time because the air quality is so poor. Exercise during this time could cause a heart attack or stroke. It isn’t good for humans either.
Do you get bored walking around the same block multiple times each day? I sure do! So, I mix it up and try to vary my routes. Often, with dogs that I walk frequently, we will go to new neighborhoods or a different block to explore fresh sights and smells. Sometimes just changing directions can make the walk seem different. Dogs get bored, too, with the same route day after day. I have one client’s dog that would lie down after a block of walking. Her owner was worried that she was getting sick, but she appeared to be healthy, and she was checked out by her veterinarian and was confirmed to be healthy. I offered to take her somewhere new and more populated because this particular dog adored people. As soon as we started walking at the park instead of her quiet neighborhood, she perked up and stopped lying down during walks. Other dogs prefer to take a known route. I have a couple that will show me exactly where they want to go. Your dog will let you know if they are an explorer or a creature of habit.
On days that you have more time, try new trails, and go for longer walks. If it is interesting for you, you are more likely to be consistent. Your dog will thank you.
Bonus tip: Walks are a great time to work in some consistency with training. Being creative and making the most of the time will make it more enjoyable for you and your dog. Plus working with your dog with the distractions of a public walk really reinforce training.
Of course, if you are in my service area and need help walking your dog, I would be happy to help.
Originally published at https://mrycpetcare.com on December 17, 2020.