How Often Should You Walk Your Dog?
When people see me walk around with the biggest Labrador they have ever seen, I get asked if he is a purebred dog, how much he weighs, how old he is and how I keep him engaged in an apartment. The most common question I get asked is how much I walk him in a day.
The question is very valid – how often should you walk your dog? The answer, however, can get really tricky because it depends on various factors.
Walking your dog is one of the biggest’s responsibilities of any dog owner. Not only is it important for the dog to relieve itself, but walks also help the dog get some much-needed exercise, breathe in some fresh air, explore and interact with its surroundings and socialize with other dogs. As you can see, walks are important for the physical and mental wellbeing of your dog so make the most of it.
As a new dog owner, you might not be an expert on this but as you spend time with your dog, the answer will come to you. For now, keep these things in mind.
Dog Breed & Size:
- Smaller dogs get tired just running around the house and on quick walks so you can walk them lesser.
- Some breeds have tiny bladders and need to relieve themselves more often so you might have to make more frequent shorter pee & poop stops.
- Walks are also dependent on the energy level of your breed so research on your breed before him or her home.
Size of Your House:
- If you are blessed with a big house with a huge yard, good for you! It is much easier for your dog to relive itself and run around to burn some excess energy. Unfortunately if you stay in an apartment like me and many other city dwellers, you will have to walk and exercise your dog more often.
- If you work from home, the walks can be more flexible and more often.
- If you are a working paw-parent, then you need to schedule your walks around your office timings. Try to tire your dog out on an early morning walk so that he or she can relax till you come back home from work. This will also help reduce destructive behavior and boredom in dogs.
- If your dog is old or has a hip problem or other illness, you might have to go on shorter walks and keep his or her diet in check to avoid obesity.
- Dogs suffering from diarrhea or temporary urinary problems might need more frequent walks too. You might have to be flexible while your pooch is recovering. Your vet will be the best judge of this. Please note that holding the pee in for extremely long durations can cause urinary problems in dogs and also accidents inside the house. Don’t be lazy – take your dog out!
- The feeding schedule and ingredients in your dog’s diet determine it’s poop cycle and therefore also the frequency of walks. If you stick to the same diet, you might be able to stay on the same schedule every day.
- If you are going to take your dogs on shorter or less frequent walks due to any reason, please adjust the food and treat intake to keep your dog fit and healthy.
- Walks are a great time to train young dogs. Teach your dog to heel next t you and not lead you. In the beginning, your walks might be longer since you are also training your dog. Eventually, your dog will do great on walks and you can enjoy your time together. A well-trained dog is a happy dog.
Walk to Socialize:
- Some dogs love meeting new dogs and humans and they will enjoy walks in crowded places and dog parks. Take advantage of this to let your dog run around and work off the excess energy – you can also keep walks shorter because Fido get his exercise from all the running around.
- Properly socializing your dog also reduces anxiety and fear that can lead to destruction at home when your dog is left alone.
On a good day, I take Leo for an hour-long walk in the morning before I head out for work. Sometimes he jogs alongside me so the walks are cut short to 30 minutes. Since I work close to my office, I come to check on him during my lunchtime on most days. This involves a quick 15 minute walk for him to pee and stretch his legs out. Lunch time is also his Milkbone time. Once I’m back from work, Leo and I go on a 30 minute walk before dinner. On weekends, I try to take him on hikes, to beaches and his favorite off-leash dog parks. Getting him onto this schedule wasn’t too hard because we started early, maintained the consistency and set expectation right. Leo is generally a good dog and I’m very thankful for that.
I also grew up with a smaller Pomeranian called Lucky. Lucky needed much lesser walks than Leo. We used to take him for 2 walks of 15 minutes each and that was enough for him. Most small dog owners that I talk to, do the same. It’s safe to say that this is a good practice for smaller breeds.
If you are an active person who jogs or runs in the morning, great! Let your dog be your new exercise buddy. Working out with dog keeps it happy and engaged and also helps strengthen your bond with him or her.
Remember to consider your dog’s activity level before you take it on rigorous runs and tire them out. Over exercising can lead to stress and joint problems in dogs. It is always important to choose a breed that works for your lifestyle. If you cannot commit to exercising your dog properly, you should look for alternatives.
I hope this gives you a better understanding on how often you should walk your dog. Let me know if I have missed anything in the comments below.
You can also read about keeping your dogs safe on night walks here.