Daily walks are a deeply ingrained into British dog-owning culture. At least once a day and generally in the morning, owners will take their dog for a walk round the block before returning home. While widely accepted, this notion should be challenged. In reality, dogs often need more frequent and diverse exercise than a brisk morning walk. While each dog’s individual needs differ, defaulting to less is seldom a good idea.
Two forty five minute walks a day first thing in the morning, and then again in the evening is a good starting point with frequent outside trips so they can use the toilet, especially after meals. Breeds naturally have different energy levels, and these will often dictate a particular dog’s appetite and tolerance for exercise. Working line dogs will generally be more energetic than family companions, so a working Dutch Shepherd or Malinois will need more exercise than a Shih Tzu.
There are other ways to exercise dogs beyond a walk, though. These all have their own merits, with variety often being beneficial to the dogs concerned. Dogs with a high prey drive enjoy chasing fast moving objects, so games of fetch with a tennis ball or Kong, or flirt pole sessions can all be good ways to outlet energy. Owners often feel that these kinds of activities tire their dogs out more than a conventional walk, and they can be a more time efficient way to provide exercise.
Ultimately, owners must find what works best for their dogs and try to be consistent with however that manifests. Regular exercise is vital for a dog’s physical and mental wellbeing, and a key time for them to be able to display natural behaviours. For additional advice, we recommend contacting and consulting an experienced trainer or behaviourist. They are best placed to help you increase your dog’s activity levels, and will fully understand why this is so important.