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How Much Exercise is Too Much for a Dog?

How much exercise is too much? Our 8-month-old Wire Fox Terrier has at least 2 walks a day sometimes 3. Ranging in time from say...

Dr. Eric Barchas  |  Jul 6th 2010


How much exercise is too much? Our 8-month-old Wire Fox Terrier has at least 2 walks a day sometimes 3. Ranging in time from say 20 -45 mins. (I dont time them) She seems healthy, eats well etc. Seems better behaved and not annoying the 3 cats she shares a home with when she gets lots of walks. We live across from a river, its a good dog-walking spot. She’s not off lead, not game enough yet to do this!

Dawn
Wanganui, South Pacific, New Zealand

Most dogs can safely engage large amounts of activity. However, in dogs, as in people, there are wide variations in exercise tolerance among individuals.

Several things contribute to the maximum amount of exercise a dog can endure. One of the most important is physical fitness. A dog who has trained for months or years can pull an Iditarod sled at peak intensity all day long. An out-of-shape dog might get winded climbing a flight of stairs.

Young adult dogs generally can tolerate the most activity. Elderly dogs and very young puppies can safely engage in less. Obese animals are at greater risk of respiratory problems during activity that dogs at their ideal weight. Dogs with very short noses (the so-called brachycephalic breeds such as Pugs, French Bulldogs, and Boston Terriers) have relatively lower tolerance for exercise than long-snouted breeds such as Labrador Retrievers and Border Collies.

And, like people, the amount of activity a dog can stand depends on environmental conditions. Hot days and high altitudes decrease the amount of safe activity in which your pet can engage.

Although there are tremendous variations among individual dogs, the species in general is an athletic one. Most medium-sized and large dogs can walk or run much further than an average person. If you are both on foot, it will be hard to overdo it from the dog’s point of view.

That said, always use common sense when exercising your dog. If he is slowing down and lagging, panting excessively, short of breath, or visibly distressed then it’s time to take a break. As a rule, intermittent rests are good for exercising dogs — and humans.