How Much Exercise do Dogs Need Daily? What Pet Owners Need to Know

By Kelli Rascoe & Trupanion Staff | Updated Aug 17, 2023


A corgi dog in a harness walking by a pool of water.


Daily activity is crucial to the mental and physical wellbeing of your dog. While you probably know that your pal needs to go on regular walks, is it enough? How much exercise do dogs need every day anyway?

Whether you have a new puppy or an older dog, all canines should live an active lifestyle. If you are a pet parent to multiple dogs, however, it’s worth considering that their exercise requirements may be different. So, before you embark on a puppy marathon, make sure you understand your pal’s needs and what’s actually beneficial to their health.

The importance of exercise for dogs

Just like humans, dogs benefit from regular exercise. According to Animal Wellness Magazine, physical activity not only helps prevent excess fat accumulation in dogs, but it also helps maintain bone and muscle strength, can help ease arthritis symptoms, and even improves insulin health and metabolism.

Getting exercise alongside humans can also be a good bonding experience for dogs. Setting aside time in your day to take your pal on a walk or romp around the backyard is important for both of you!

How much exercise do dogs need daily?

Generally speaking, dogs need anywhere between 30 minutes to two hours of exercise every day.

That doesn’t mean that you need to make sure your dog gets all of their daily exercise at once. Many pups benefit from having activity spaced out throughout the day, often in the form of multiple walks around the neighborhood or a trip to the dog park combined with other exercise activities closer to home.

Of course, dogs vary greatly both physically and temperament-wise. The specific amount of exercise that your dog needs will depend on a number of factors, particularly their genetic makeup (breed) and age. Some dogs are also just naturally more energetic than others, which you’ll need to accommodate or risk facing destructive behavior at home.


A small dog running across a field with a ball in its mouth.


Dog exercise needs by breed

While all dogs generally need between 30 minutes and a couple of hours of active time, the exact amount of physical activity your dog needs depends largely on their breed.

All dog breeds benefit from daily exercise, but one group of canines particularly stands out — working dogs. These pups were bred to work long days or exert a lot of energy in a short period of time. So, if you have a Border Collie, German Shepherd, Siberian Husky, or another type of working breed, be prepared to fit a sizable amount of dog exercise into every day.

Sporting and herding dog breeds are similar in energy to working dogs and also require high amounts of daily activity.

On the other hand, dog breeds that were bred primarily for companionship and leisure require exercise on the lower end of the spectrum. These dogs often include canines in the toy breed group, like Shih Tzus, Pugs, Pekingese, Dachshunds, etc. That doesn’t mean they can sit around all day, however, and be fine — even the smallest pups still need regular walks and playtime.

How much exercise do puppies and senior dogs need?

Puppies are famously rambunctious, but as growing dogs they tend to tire out quicker than their adult canine counterparts. Puppies require between 30 and 60 minutes of active time a day, but this can be spaced out over the day to prevent them from injuring themselves or burning out.

Senior dogs are meanwhile going to be a little slower than younger adult dogs. Aim for between 30 and 60 minutes (like puppies) of physical activity, but keep their health conditions in mind and go at a more leisurely pace.

Avoid over-exercising your dog

While you want your best friend to be in top physical health, too much exercise can be harmful. It’s normal for your pal to be tired after a long hike or play session, but it’s important to be able to spot signs of dog overexertion:

  • Muscle pain — if your pal is limping or appears to be stiff or in pain, their muscles could be hurting from too much activity.
  • Decreased movement — dogs can become injured from overexertion. Limited movements can be an indicator of this and should be addressed by a veterinarian.
  • Damage to paw pads — too much activity can cause excess wear and tear to your dog’s paw pads.
  • Decreased energy — notice your pal acting tired and sluggish? Working out too much can cause your dog’s overall energy levels to dip.
  • Heavy panting — dogs that overwork themselves can start breathing heavily or become overheated, both of which can lead to heavy panting.

Not sure if you’re over-exercising your dog? Talk with your veterinarian!


A fluffy dog exercising on an agility course with poles.


Dog exercise tips

There are a lot of different things you can do to ensure your dog is getting the exercise they need while having a good time.

Go on daily walks

Walks are the perfect time to get dogs’ legs going. They’re also a great time to incorporate some obedience training.

Figure out what your dog likes

Do they prefer long urban hikes in your neighborhood? Chasing balls in the backyard? Playdates with their siblings or neighbors? Going to the dog park? Try different things out, and never be afraid to switch things up to discover your dog’s preferences.

Use variety

Just like you, your furry family members like to try new and fun things. Consider introducing new activities to keep them learning.

Start slow

It may take time for your pet to become accustomed to the new activity or schedule change, give them time to adapt.

Consider who your dog is

Always remember to keep your dog’s age and breed in mind when determining when and how you are meeting their exercise needs. It’s a good idea to consult with your veterinarian before starting any new activity with your dog, or if you’re just not sure how much physical exercise is actually beneficial.

Prioritize your dog's health

The whole point of ensuring your dog gets enough daily exercise is to promote their health, but consider if your dog has any medical conditions and plan accordingly. Although your pet may not be able to do all forms of exercise, it may help you pick which options work best for your furry friend. Further, a leisurely dog walk is a great option for all pups.

Remember that all dogs are different

Keep in mind that every dog is different and you may need to personalize their fitness program based on their needs. For example, a 6 month old puppy may need a different exercise plan than an adult dog with medical conditions. Consider trying out different activities to see what your best friend likes and you can modify if needed.

Have fun

Whether you’re hiking with your dog or playing a game of fetch, remember to have fun. Naturally, exercise and interacting with your furry family member is a wonderful time to solidify the human-pet bond.

Check out 7 Easy Ways to Exercise with Your Dog.



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