How Many Times a Day Should You Walk a Dog? Focus on THIS Instead | Pupford
August 21st, 2023
Filed under Podcasts
While you may be wanting to know how many times a day you should walk your dog, I want to convince you in this article to think about this question differently!
Before you close this tab, stick with me for a few minutes. By the end of this article, I promise you’ll feel more confident in assessing your dog’s exercise needs each day.
And I know the sentiment of this question comes from a desire to make sure you’re meeting your dog’s needs, which is a fantastic thing! So I want to dig into that a little bit more, and help us all improve our dog’s lives (and ours as well in the process).
If you’re really dying for a number, I’d say at least one walk a day. Or at least 60 minutes of total walking time. Preferably you’d give two walks per day, too!
Let’s flip the script on this question and find a better way to think about our dogs’ exercise and stimulation needs.
Here we go. ⤵️
LISTEN TO EPISODE
“HOW MANY TIMES A DAY SHOULD YOU WALK YOUR DOG” IS A TRAP - HERE’S WHY
Where I previously lived I almost never walked my dogs.
Yup, you read that right.
While we rarely went on a standard “walk” around our neighborhood, my dogs still had plenty of exercise, bonding, and enrichment time throughout the day.
The trap of thinking about how many times you need to walk your dog is that walks aren’t the only measure of a happy, healthy, and well-exercised dog.
And every dog is different (you’re gonna be sick of hearing that by the end).
Some dogs absolutely love walks. They love the bonding time, they love the sniffs, and they love the leisurely exercise.
Some dogs just don’t really care for walks but enjoy the experience and get enough enrichment out of it.
Some dogs need loads more than just a walk… 👇
WHY WALKS SOMETIMES JUST AREN’T ENOUGH
I could walk my dog Scout for 2 hours straight and she wouldn’t be tired… at all. She would actually probably end up a little bit bored.
But let her play fetch for 30 minutes and she will be visibly enjoying herself and come home more tired than the 2-hour walk scenario
Certain breeds have been bred for 100s (if not 1,000s) of years to perform specific tasks.
My Labrador Retrievers were literally bred to help retrieve items. That is their “life calling” if you want to give it a name.
So ask yourself, what was your dog bred to do?
If the answer is to be a lap dog, then walks might be perfectly suitable for meeting his or her exercise needs.
But if the answer is to help with hunting, walks might not be enough.
Or if the answer is to herd livestock, walks might not be enough.
Possibly the answer is to protect, and walks might not be enough.
Do you see what I mean?! Every single dog is different.
The key is to find what type of exercise your dog derives the most enjoyment and physical exertion from, and do that.
REPHRASING THE QUESTION TO BETTER MEET YOUR DOG’S NEEDS
So, how should we start to think about exercise…
“How much enrichment, activity, and bonding time do you spend with your dog?”
I think that is beautifully written and truly covers the bases that matter.
Let’s break it down a little more.
In humans, if physical exercise is equated to playing basketball, mental exercise could be equated to doing a homework assignment.
While you’d certainly feel physically tired after a pickup basketball game, you would also likely feel pretty spent after working on calculus homework.
So, on top of physical exercise, make sure your dog gets some “homework” every day.
Here are some basic mental exercise and enrichment ideas for your dog:
The bottom line, enrichment and mental exercise can dramatically reduce problem behavior and help your dog feel happy, exercised, and fulfilled.
This is the heart of this article, physical exercise and activity.
As mentioned, going on walks can be sufficient exercise but it’s not always enough.
We’ll cover this more in the next section, but don’t always rely on walks for your dog’s daily physical activity.
If walks are the main feasible activity, here are some tips to make walks more valuable.
- Find new routes for your dog to explore
- Allow your dog time to sniff
- Incorporate other dogs and people into your walking routine, companionship is valuable for dogs
- If it’s safe, try using a to give your dog more freedom on walks
While every dog is different (worth noting again), most dogs truly enjoy quality time with their human companions.
Sometimes that is just as simple as giving your dog a nice belly rub after a long day’s work.
Or, you can use food and to bond with your dog. If things are feeling extra stressful around the home or I can see my dog in need of attention, I’ll try to do some fun training games with their meal or treats.
Our dogs rely on us for many things, and bonding time is certainly one of them.
Do your best to give your dog focused attention and bonding time each day!
DOG WALKING ALTERNATIVES TO GIVE AMPLE EXERCISE & ENRICHMENT
While I’m not saying walks aren’t a worthwhile activity, I want to look at some alternatives that can maximize your activity time with your pup!
Here are some great alternatives to walks to give your dog plenty of exercise:
- Flirt Poles
- Hide and Seek
- Puppy Play Dates
- Tug of War
- Free Exploration
Let’s give each one a quick look. ⏬
The chase, leave it, drop, and overall “game” of a flirt pole is great for working your pup’s brain and getting them to think.
Plus, all that running and chasing will surely tire them out. And if it’s too hot or cold outside, a flirt pole is an absolute live-saver for indoor exercise!
Again, the beauty of fetch is that it’s more than just running around. Your dog has to track the ball, sometimes use their brain to find a lost ball, and of course, implement some behavioral skills by bringing the ball back and dropping it at your feet.
And like we mentioned earlier, retrieving a ball can lead many breeds to fulfillment of their “life purpose”!
Hide and Seek
This one is just what it sounds like, hide some things (or yourself) around your home and have your pup search them out.
If your dog is toy motivated, hide their favorite toy around the home.
If your dog is person-motivated, hide yourself in the home.
Again, you get the exercise of physical moving around coupled with the mental work of having to sniff out and find what’s hidden.
Puppy Play Dates
Other dogs will always be more effective at playing with your dog than you will be.
Giving your dog time to play, wrestle, and chase other dogs can be one of the most effective exercise activities for your pup.
So, find a dog your dog gets along with and give them time to just be dogs and have fun!
Tug of War
So, grab your favorite toy and play some tug with your pup.
While it’s of course similar to going on walks, running makes your exercise time much more efficient.
Plus, I’ve personally found that going on runs with my dogs allows us to see parts of our city that we wouldn’t normally go to!
Giving the dog the ability to explore a new park, yard, or open space opens up their mind and nose to all kinds of new smells and experiences.
If your dog isn’t great off leash, try finding a friend or neighbor whose yard your dog can explore!
Similar to free exploration above, going on hikes with your dog is an extremely beneficial activity. Not only will they get plenty of exercise running back and forth on the trails, but they’ll also get plenty of sights and smells.
RECAP OF HOW MANY TIMES A DAY SHOULD YOU WALK A DOG
While there isn’t a specific number answer, you should probably give your dog at least 2 walks per day, ideally.
But as I’ve hopefully laid out in this article, focusing just on the number of walks per day often is a trap. Walks alone often aren’t enough from a physical and mental exercise standpoint.
Instead, focus on giving your dog ample enrichment, activity, and bonding time each day!
How many walks per day do you give your dog? Or do you usually opt for other forms of exercise? Let me know in the comments!