Walking Your Dog: How Often, How Long, How Far?

Written by: Bojana Radulovic
Is a 30-minute walk too much or not enough exercise for your dog? Read on and discover how often and how far your walks should be.

How often do you walk your dog? Is your canine present on every hike or run?

Do you sometimes feel as if your dog is a bit tired during the walk? Or that he cannot catch his breath while making a simple walk around the corner?

If you have any kind of doubts about how much your dog can walk, this article is for you.

Even non-dog owners know that dogs need to go outside, opposite to cats which are like the ultimate house animals.

For dogs, walks are mandatory so they can pee and do other business, while at the same time they are getting some form of exercise and get to explore the world of outside smells, and meet other dogs.

On top of this, walking is also a great bonding experience between a dog and his owner.

Today, 32.3% of Americans walk their dogs as a primary form of exercise… But, is that enough? This depends on the breed – if your canine is a high-energy dog such as Border Collie, a simple walk won’t be enough.

Have you ever heard of that saying – a tired dog is a happy dog? This is so true because dogs need time to work, to be active, so they can spend indoor time in peace, and silence.

How Long Should You Walk Your Dog Every Day?

When it comes to dog rules and dog’s preferences on walking, feeding, and health it all comes down to dog breed.

As a general rule, healthy dogs need a minimum of 30 to 60 minutes of walking every day – bear in mind that this is the bare minimum for some breeds.

When it comes to puppies, you need to be extra careful, especially if your puppy is of a large size breed.

You want to avoid any situations when your puppy might hurt his joints or hips.

Puppies should have 5 minutes of exercise per month of age until they are grown.

Older and senior dogs should be pushed to exercise. However, they should be encouraged to get out and still be active for as much as the body allows them to be.

For them, 10 to 15 minutes of active time every day is a must. When it comes to how much exercise your dog needs, it all comes to a breed. Why? Some breeds just have more energy than others do.

A small size dog will get a lot more exercise from a walk than a large dog would.

Small size dogs will always walk faster to keep up with human steps, while large dogs walk at about the same pace as a person.

How Often Should You Walk Your Dog?

As a general rule, in a perfect world, dogs should be taken out three times per day to do their business. The intensity of these walks is up to you and your dog.

You two might prefer long walks in the morning, and shorter ones in the evening, and playtime in between – there are no strict guidelines. Again, it all comes down to the breed that you have.

If your dog gets bored easily, he may prefer several walks more than three times per day. On the other hand, puppies and older dogs may benefit from shorter, but more frequent walks that don’t stress their joints and bones.

Everyone knows that walks are good for your dog, but it’s not always practical, especially if the day is rainy or you are blessed with a senior dog. Therefore, you need to be creative.

Small dogs may find indoor time and exercise beneficial, while larger dogs may benefit from exercise in the backyard.

It’s important for dogs to burn all the extra energy, but the walk will provide mental stimulation and a bonding experience for both of you.

If your dog is slowing down due to age or joint issues, make sure that you slow down, and focus more on low-intensity activities.

On the other hand, if your dog is overly energetic, it’s likely he needs more walks, long walks, and/or a higher intensity activity than walking.

How Far Should You Walk Your Dog?

How much do you enjoy walks? Because answers to this question will depend on your pace as well. If you love longer and more intense walks and you walk with a small or an older dog you won’t cover much ground.

On the other hand, if you are walking briskly with a larger dog, you may cover a lot of ground before your dog is tired.

So, your physical ability to walk faster or slower needs to be taken into calculation, as well.

Other factors that you should think about include terrain, weather, and incline. There is also a significant difference depending on if your dog is on a long leash or is Flexi-lead.

If your dog is on Flexi-lead, he will cover far more ground than you do on your walk. Most dogs will be happy with a walk of one to three miles, but if you have a really energetic dog, he could go up to 10 miles or more.

Again, be careful with puppies, because they shouldn’t cover more than a couple of miles until fully grown. Always choose to focus more on time than distance.

Most dogs can tolerate 20-30 minute dog walks on a daily basis if they have a relatively good body condition.

Dogs that are in really great condition, and are physically strong, can tolerate walks up to 2 hours or could go hiking for hours at a time.

Some Dogs Can Walk Farther Than Others

When it comes to just how far you should walk your dog, you need again to think about the dog’s breed. For example, Labrador Retriever will always go farther than Chihuahua.

Also, consider age, activity level, health, and breed. As expected younger and energetic dogs will go longer, while senior dogs will expect more chill walks.

With puppies focus on playtime and split their activity into multiple short walks per day.

If you have Pug or French Bullod,g or any other breed that is brachycephalic (short-nosed) may experience difficulties breathing, so their walks should be kept to 20-30 minutes.

On the other hand, super-active and high-energy breeds like a Border Collie may want to enjoy a long power walk of up to two hours.

Dog Walking Needs By Breed

Here is a shortlist on how much walking dog needs by breed:

  • Herding dogs need walks two or three times a day, for at least 120 minutes, up to 8 minimum for smaller breeds, or 20 for larger breeds.
  • Sporting dogs need walks twice a day, for a minimum of 100 minutes, with 12 miles minimum, or up to 30 miles for large breeds.
  • Hound dogs are usually happy with one long walk (toilet walks are not included here) with at least 120 minutes for larger breeds, and 15 miles minimum for smaller breeds, and 20 miles for larger breeds.
  • Rat and Small Game Terriers can benefit from two or more walks. They need around 60 minutes of walk-in total, with 5 miles minimum for smaller breeds, and 20 miles for larger breeds.
  • Large Terriers and Working Group need one long walk, up to 80 minutes. Smaller size dogs need a minimum of 10 miles, while active breeds need 20 miles.
  • Non-Sporting and Toy Group need two walks per day, and they prefer morning and evening walks. For most breeds, up to 60 minutes of exercise is enough, while Dalmatians need up to 120.

Can You Walk Your Dog Off-leash?

If you choose to walk your dog off-leash, can you achieve higher walk intensity? The most important thing when it comes to walking your dog is safety.

Think about risk when you walk your dog off-leash in an unfenced area. No matter how well yoru dog might be, he might see a squirrel or any other small animal and feel a strong urge to chase after it.

Plus, not everyone is an experienced dog owner, and some people may not know how to handle certain situations.

This is why you should focus hard on recall training – this is a great way to keep the danger between you and your dog away.

If your dog is really struggling with impulse control, you might want to focus on a down-stay which may be far effective than asking your dog to come.

Tips For a Safe Dog Walk

Walking your dog is one of the best and most safe activities that you do with your dog. However, this doesn’t mean that there is nothing to be worried about.

In fact, there are many things that you need to think about to have a safe and sound walk.

Here are some tips that can help you have a great walk, especially during the summertime:

1. Water

Are you based somewhere where sunny days are almost every day opccurence>? Even if you are not, you should think about your canine’s health during the hot weather.

Some dog breeds are more prone to heatstroke, while every dog is in danger of experiencing heatstroke when exposed to the sun for too long.

Having water on hand and taking breaks in the shade should be enough to help your dog cool down and drink plenty of water for more pleasant walks.

2. Foot Protection

Foot protection is maybe more common when the winter and harsh snow kick in, but paw safety should all-year-round thing.

Some areas aren’t blessed with huge free areas, and the urban area is all over the place.

This is why protection should be a thing when the weather is too hot and yoru canine needs to deal with walking on hot asphalt.

So, if you are walking with your dog over hot pavement or freezing snow, you will need some dog boots to protect his feet.

3. Put A Vest On

If you tend to walk at night, you need to doublethink about night walks. This is especially important when it comes to how weather nighttime.

When traffic is more frequent higher danger on the road. Think about a reflective vest for both you and your dog. Make sure that vest fits your dog.

The Bottom Line

For smaller dogs, two short walks per day might be enough to satisfy their exercise needs. However, toilet needs may differ from dog to dog and you still might head for that third walk.

If you are a sports person and want your dog to follow you around every minute outdoors, make sure that you get a dog who can follow that.

If you are not sure how much exercise your dog needs, talk to your veterinarian. Walking your dog is a big part of a dog parent’s life, and it should be done right.