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Do Dogs Need to Go Outside? 7 Vet-Verified Reasons to Get Them Outdoors

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on July 8, 2024 by Dogster Team

rat terrier dog standing outside

Do Dogs Need to Go Outside? 7 Vet-Verified Reasons to Get Them Outdoors


Dr. Paola Cuevas Photo


Dr. Paola Cuevas

Veterinarian, MVZ

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Dogs can’t synthesize vitamin D from UV rays in the same way humans can. So, if there’s no direct health benefit of soaking up the sun, is there any need to take a dog outside? While dogs don’t need UV exposure, taking them outside can improve their mental well-being, ensure that they get enough exercise, and allow them to socialize with humans and dogs.

There are plenty of reasons to take dogs out for regular walks, and spending time playing with them in a secure yard also benefits you and your dog.

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The 7 Reasons Your Dog Should Go Outside

Walking your dog should be a daily part of your pet care regime. Although the required duration and intensity of walks differ by breed and an individual dog’s circumstances, you should walk your dog for around 30 minutes to 1 hour a day, but it can be split over two or more walks.

There are numerous reasons why dog walking is so important. It is not only beneficial for your dog, but it has been shown that regular walks can improve your mental well-being and physical condition.

1. Socialization

Socializing a dog means introducing them to new situations and people that they’ve not encountered before. This teaches them that new situations are nothing to fear. It also lets your pup connect with other dogs and people. Socialization should start when a dog is young, but it needs to continue throughout their life.

woman playing with weimaraner dogs
Image Credit: Christian Mueller, Shutterstock

2. Exercise

Exercise is important. Without regular exercise, your dog will likely gain weight and may develop joint, bone, and other health conditions. A lack of exercise can also lead to poor mental health. All of these factors contribute to a shorter lifespan, but every dog’s exercise requirements are different.

Some companion dogs may not need extensive exercise, but working breeds require more intense exercise for longer periods.

3. Reduced Anxiety and Stress

Going on a walk provides your dog with access to different environments. It enables them to sniff and experience sights and sounds they don’t get when shut in the house. This can reduce anxiety, while regular exercise and time outdoors can reduce stress.

If a dog suffers from separation anxiety or engages in destructive behavior, ensuring they get enough regular exercise is one way to reduce these problems.

mini goldendoodle puppy dog running outdoors
Image Credit: SoySendra, Shutterstock

4. Bonding

Walking your dog also provides a chance to bond with them, and they will look to you for support and guidance while you’re out. The stronger the bond between you, the more likely your dog will listen to you and behave well.

5. Training Opportunities

One reason that a lot of people put off walking their dog is that they aren’t good on a leash or they misbehave while out. Some dogs get excited when they get out of the house. Regular walks can reduce excitement and anxiety and allow you to work on leash walking and other training activities.

You can use a long leash and work on recall, teach your dog to retrieve, level up on nose work, practice engagement-disengagement techniques, etc. The outdoors and its varying and unpredictable stimuli help to take your dog’s attention and obedience skills to the next level.

a weimaraner dog being trained at the park
Image Credit: Frank J. Triguero, Shutterstock

6. Improved Immunity

When dogs are given the chance to go outside and have contact with soil, they also get the chance to develop a strong immune system. Regular contact with healthy soil helps dogs to develop a healthy and varied skin and gut microbiome. This in turn strengthens their immune systems and makes them less susceptible to developing infections, allergies, and sensitivities.

7. Sensorial Enrichment

Even if you do not find the motivation to train your dog while outside, the opportunity to be outdoors; feel the wind in their face and whiskers; see a variety of movements, colors, and plants; and, more than anything, smell all those scents is an incredible sensorial enrichment for them.

Dogs’ olfactory sense is fascinating, and their perception of the world through their nose is what makes a dog, well, a dog. It’s a great way to allow them to express the natural behavior of their species! You can always deliver variability and excitement simply by allowing them to enjoy the many different scents that only the adventures outside can provide to their day-to-day lives.

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Is the Backyard Enough?

Letting a dog out in the yard is an excellent supplement to regular walks, but it shouldn’t be viewed as a replacement. While it gives your dog a chance to pee and poop, and you can provide exercise if your yard is big enough, walking your dog introduces them to new sights and smells that they cannot experience in your yard.

How Much Exercise Do Dogs Need?

The amount of exercise a dog needs depends on their breed, age, and health. In most cases, you should expect to provide at least 30 to 60 minutes of daily exercise. This can be split into two walks, and if yours is a working breed or especially active, you might need to provide more exercise. If your vet recommends more or less exercise, always follow their guidelines.

Is It Okay to Not Walk Your Dog for a Day?

If it is a one-off, and there’s a good reason, missing one day of walks shouldn’t be detrimental to your dog’s physical or mental health. However, it shouldn’t become a habit. Your dog needs daily exercise, typically provided through regular walks, so don’t skip walks unless absolutely essential.

If you cannot walk your dog for a few days, consider hiring a friend, family member, or professional dog walker to take them out for you.

Is One Walk a Day Enough for a Dog?

For some breeds, a daily walk might be enough to keep them fit and healthy. However, providing two walks means that you can take a dog out for a walk first in the morning and another before bed, giving them a chance to do their business and reducing the risk of them peeing and pooping in the house.

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Regular exercise and socialization are vital to all dogs. Getting out for a daily walk or two with your dog can also help with training and strengthen the bond between you. Letting your dog out in the yard shouldn’t be seen as a replacement for regular walks but it can be used to supplement walks and provide a convenient way to let your dog do their business out of the house. Going outside is important for your dog’s mental and physical health, as it provides enrichment and allows them to enjoy the world.

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Featured Image Credit: Emily Ranquist, Shutterstock

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