How Much Exercise Does My Dog Need?

A tired dog is a happy dog. Because every dog ​​- whether small or large – needs a physical outlet to burn off excess energy and stay fit and healthy. Regular activity and exercise are not only important for a dog’s health and fitness. It can also help to reduce undesirable behaviors that a dog has acquired – out of boredom, anxiety, or constant under-challenging.

The intensity of the activity and exercise program varies from dog to dog. Every four-legged friend has their own individual needs, which can vary depending on their age or state of health. Environmental influences – such as extreme weather conditions – also affect a dog’s activity level. Based on the dog breed or the mixed breed and the tasks for which a dog breed was originally bred, conclusions can be drawn about a dog’s need for exercise. Of course, exceptions prove the rule, because every dog ​​has its personality.

Herding dogs, cattle dogs, and working dogs

This group includes well-known representatives such as the Border Collie, the German Shepherd, and the Doberman. These dogs have a high urge to move and need one to two hours of intensive activity and exercise every day, sometimes more. As typical working dogs, they also want to be mentally challenged. Hours of throwing sticks can quickly become boring for these willing dogs. A good mix of varied physical and mental activity is required so that the training remains exciting and interesting for both dog and the owner. There are many dog ​​sports activities for the necessary variety and physical balance such as agility, dog dance, dummy work, tracking, or mantrailing.


Terriers – whether small Yorkie or large Airedales – are extremely charismatic but also very lively, active, and spirited dogs. They also usually have a great need for exercise. However, this – at least with the smaller representatives of this group of dogs – can also be breastfed in a smaller space. Even a little one can let off steam in a fenced dog park. Nevertheless, the urge to move the little temperamental bolts should not be underestimated. One hour a day of intensive exercise is considered a minimum. The eager-to-learn, intelligent terriers can also be enthusiastic about dog sports activities.

Hounds and greyhounds

All hunting dogs – trackers, scent hounds, or greyhounds – need intensive work and exercise. The nose workers among them – such as beagles, hounds, and pointers – need one to two hours of activity and exercise every day – and love all tracking and search work. Sighthounds, on the other hand, hunt by sight and drain their energy from short but intense sprints. If you allow them to let off steam with a few sprints a week, they are calm, even-tempered housemates.

Miniature dogs and short-headed (brachycephalic) breeds

Small lap dogs, such as Miniature Poodles, Chihuahuas, or Maltese, were never bred for hunting tasks. They are companion dogs and as such do not need any sporting challenges. A healthy amount of daily exercise is still necessary, otherwise, they can tend to be overweight. Due to its compact size, daily, playful training is also possible in a small space.

Even brachycephalic breeds, which are dogs with very short heads and short muzzles, are not made for hours of endurance training. They include the Pug and the Bulldog. While their crumpled, wrinkled faces may be irresistible to some, this anatomical feature can cause breathing difficulties and lead to overheating or lack of oxygen during physical exertion.

Environmental influences and weather conditions

The weather and external influences are not the only essential factors for short-headed dogs when it comes to daily exercise. Virtually any dog ​​can experience heat shock or frostbite in extreme weather conditions. In winter, after every walk, the paws should be thoroughly cleaned of ice lumps and salt residue with lukewarm water. If the temperatures drop, a dog coat can protect against heat loss in dogs with a thin, single coat or older animals. Extreme heat can also severely affect the circulation and dog paws on hot asphalt or the beach. In extreme heat or cold, you should always ensure adequate hydration and always have enough water with you for outdoor activities – for example in a travel water bowl.

Exercise and employment tips

For physical fitness, there are a variety of ways to keep a dog on the go in a playful and species-appropriate manner. The simplest are fetch games: almost all dogs love them and you hardly have to exert yourself. Many dogs are also ideal companions on hikes, jogging tours, cycling, or horseback riding. In addition, there is a wide range of dog sports activities – such as agility, mantrailing, dummy training, dog dancing, flyball, or disc dogging – where the dog and owner are active in a team and face new sporting challenges together.

Dogs also want to be challenged mentally. Solving a difficult task can sometimes be as exhausting as a long walk. For example, some dogs love food toys or intelligence toys. This toy is shaped so it only releases treats when placed in a particular position or when toy blocks are placed correctly. All nose workers can also be challenged with hide-and-seek games – both indoors and outdoors. Many dogs also enjoy learning simple tricks (trick dogging). And with all dog sports activities, the mental challenge is not neglected.

In short: regular exercise and regular training keep a dog physically and mentally fit. If the exercise and training program is tailored to the dog’s individual needs, then the man’s best friend is also a balanced, relaxed, and unproblematic housemate.

Ava Williams

Written by Ava Williams

Hello, I'm Ava! I have been writing professionally for just over 15 years. I specialize in writing informative blog posts, breed profiles, pet care product reviews, and pet health and care articles. Prior to and during my work as a writer, I spent about 12 years in the pet care industry. I have experience as a kennel supervisor and professional groomer. I also compete in dog sports with my own dogs. I also have cats, guinea pigs, and rabbits.

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