There are a surprising number of benefits to walking your dog. It gives them exercise, mental stimulation, and helps grow the bond between you.
You know your pooch needs exercise, and that walking your dog is part of being a responsible pet owner. However, how often you should walk them isn’t always clear.
Is it ok to only walk my dog once a day?
The truth is that how often you should walk your dog depends on a number of factors. These include your dogs personality, and even your schedule. There isn’t a one size fits all answer. However, there are things to consider when determining how many walks your pooch needs each day.
Rule of Thumb
Most dogs need 1 to 2 long walks per day. Many dogs are ok with one long walk a day, and then 3 to 4 potty breaks. However, some dogs must have more than one walk a day to stay happy and healthy.
High Energy Dogs
High energy dogs are the most active. They require lots of physical and mental stimulation. Generally, the highest energy breeds are known as working dogs.
High energy breeds include:
These breeds need 2.5 hours of activity each day. It’s recommended to walk them 4 times a day, for 20 to 25 minutes. Your pooch may be ok with two long walks each day, at least 40 minutes each.
In addition to the walks, they should have opportunities to play on their own. A fenced in yard allows them to get some activity. They also need some training or mental stimulation each day.
You’ll need to spend 30 minutes each day playing games that require them to think, or training. This gives their mind the stimulation it needs.
Terriers and Hunting Dogs
Terriers and hunting dogs, including beagles and hounds, don’t require as much activity as high energy breeds. However, they still need quite a bit of exercise.
The recommendation for these breeds is 3 walks a day, that are 20-30 minutes each. If your schedule only allows for one walk a day, aim for an hour. It’s best to walk them at least twice a day.
Many breeds are known as companion dogs. These are dogs that were bred as pets, instead of working dogs. These are often small or toy breeds. This include chiuhueas, shi tzus, and bulldogs. Essentially, if your dog would rather nap than go for a run, they are probably a companion breed.
Large breeds also have a lower need for activity. Mastiffs, Great Danes, and Chow Chows fall into this category.
They don’t require the rigorous physical activity that higher energy breeds do, but a daily walk is still important. These breeds do fine with 1 or 2 shorter walks each day.
Health and Age
Health and age also play a significant role in your dog’s activity needs. Puppies will need more exercise than older dogs. Elderly dogs of most breeds are ok with one walk a day. However, high energy puppies can quickly get into trouble without enough exercise.
If your dog has health issues, this will also impact their walking needs. A dog with diabetes or arthritis, for example, will not be able to exercise as much as one without a health condition.
Each dog is an individual. This means they will all have their own personality and preferences. Two dogs from the same breed, and even the same litter, can have very different preferences.
One may get hyper if they don’t get 2 or 3 walks a day, while another may be satisfied with one walk per day.
Matching Your Dog’s Needs With Your Schedule
Knowing how often your dog needs to be walked is only half the battle. You also need ot know how often you can walk your dog.
Hopefully, you’ve matched your dog with your own activity level. This tends to happen naturally for most owners. We instinctively choose dogs with a similar energy level and personality to us.
If your dog has a higher energy level than you, or if your schedule won’t allow you to walk your dog as often as they need, you’ll need to come up with a solution.
A fenced in yard or a cable run can help. This allows your pooch to get some exercise. Toys are also a great way for them to get physical activity. My dog will play with a ball until they exhaust themselves. Toys, particularly puzzle toys, can also provide mental stimulation. However, your dog will still need at least one walk a day.
There’s another option to consider as well. These days, it’s very easy to find a dog walking service. This can provide your dog with needed exercise while you are away at work, and a potty break.
Is it ok if I forget to walk my dog one day?
The world won’t end if you forget to walk your dog one day, and your dog won’t hate you. Dogs do need physical exercise each day. Some dogs need significantly more than others, as we discussed above.
However, most dogs can tolerate going a day without a walk, as long as they have other outlets. Some toy breeds may not even need a daily walk. They will require activity, but walking isn’t the only way to get their exercise in.
It can actually be beneficial to give your dog a day off from walking. Humans certainly take off days. We take off days from the gym, work, and even diets. One reason for taking an off day is to give ourselves a break. it allows us to relax, and prevents the activity from becoming dull.
This is also true for your dog. An off day gives their body a chance to rest, as you would after a hard day at the gym. However, that’s not the biggest benefit.
Walks are very exciting for dogs. There are so many scents, sights, and tastes to explore. Even if they don’t meet any other dogs, they are bound to find some things that cause excitement.
Stress, even healthy stress like your dog experiences during a walk, releases cortisol. If too much cortisol builds up in the system, it makes your dog more anxious and nervous. In other words, too much stress causes your dog to get stressed easier. This starts a cycle that can bring a whole range of issues.
Taking a day off can work like a stress detox. Just like you need a day on the couch with popcorn occasionally, a day without a walk gives your dog some time to chill. They can spend the day doing relaxing activities, or at least less stimulating than chasing squirrels and sniffing butts.
Is it ok to not walk my dog every day?
This really depends on their activity needs, and how often you do take them for a walk. As discussed above, it’s ok to miss a day occasionally. It can even be beneficial. However, if your dog is going several days without walks, this can be an issue.
Toy or Companion Breeds
Toy or smaller companion breeds may not need a walk every day. They can get a significant amount of activity with a play session or two a day. If they enjoy a good game of chase the ball and tug of war, this might be enough activity.
Some dogs do need time outside, even if you aren’t going for an intense walk. Be mindful of your pooch’s personality. If they need time outside, allow them to go out a few times a day, even if it’s only for a few minutes.
How long to walk a dog for if it is once per day?
Perhaps you are away at work all day, and can only walk your dog in the evening. Perhaps you simply prefer walking in the morning. You want to walk your dog once a day, but how long should you walk them?
Companion breeds can do well with one 20-30 minute walk. It can be easy to overexercise these breeds, so watch them for signs of fatigue. High energy breeds need at least an hour walk a day.
Signs of Fatigue
Pay attention to your pooch. Your dog is actually a great indicator of how long your walks should be. When you notice signs of fatigue, it’s time to end the walk. Some dogs will simply stop walking when they get tired.
If your dog sits or lays down during the walk, they may be telling you they’ve had enough. Other signs your dog is tired include excessive panting, yawning, and excessive thirst.
Signs They Need More Exercise
Destructive behavior is a clear sign your dog isn’t getting enough activity. You may find them chewing your favorite shoes, or destroying your furniture. They get bored without physical activity, and will find ways to occupy themselves we find unpleasant.
When you walk them, they will likely pull at the leash. They may also seem depressed when the walk ends. They may try to dart out the door to go for an unsupervised run as well.
Excessive barking and restlessness are also signs your pooch needs more exercise. They may bark constantly, pace, or seem anxious.
Of course, a lack of exercise often leads to obesity. If your pooch is overweight, this is also a sign they need more activity.