how important is exercise for a dog ?

Have you ever seen a dog that jumps on everyone and everything, runs around like a terror, bites and nips people’s legs and hands, and chews on anything and everything?  That, my friend, is a dog that doesn’t have enough exercise! 


Exercise, according to most dog experts, cures over 50 percent of bad dog behaviors.  How much exercise is needed.  It depends on the dog, but a good benchmark is 60 minutes of high heart-rate activity.  There are many forms of exercise that can achieve this.


First of all, there is walking.  If you are walking your dog and he is stopping every 5 seconds to sniff and mark, that is not exercise.  The walk needs to have that component for a healthy dog – sniffing exercises their mind, and a big part of the walk is so a dog can relieve herself.  But the other component of the walk should be a brisk walk of 30 minutes, twice a day, assuming your dog doesn’t get his exercise in other ways.


Other ways:  Tug of War is a great example of other exercise.  Playing a solid 20 minutes of tug of war with your dog is similar to 30 minutes on a brisk walk.   It really burns up that pent up energy quickly and efficiently.  Also, playing fetch is another good tool to exercise your pup.  Even if he is not that great at returning the toy, playing chase also burns up calories.   Many dog owners run with their dogs – all the power to them!  It’s another great way to get that energy spent.


Believe it or not, doing 20 minutes of training may not physically exercise your dog, but it is mentally taxing.  You can count that 20 minutes of training toward the 60 minutes of exercise required daily.  As a trainer, whenever I complete my training sessions, I hear from the dog owners that their pup was exhausted.  So yes, a solid 20 minutes of basic obedience training definitely expends mental energy.  I would not recommend more than 20 minutes at a time.  If you want, you can do 20 minutes, take at least an hour break, and then do another 20 minutes.  You can not only review the known basic commands, but also introduce new commands.


So to sum it up, do your best to get 60 minutes of high heart-rate activity out of your pup every day, and/or consider some amount of time spent on obedience training.  In short order, you will find that your dog jumps less, has better manners, and is a more chill pup.

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