How much exercise does your dog get?


Hi Internet! I have a question for you. It’s the title of this blog post.

Let me explain why I’m wondering.

I have read that (young, healthy) dogs need between two and three hours of exercise a day, with at least half an hour of hard cardio (so an activity that makes them pant)

I have also read that you need to be careful about large breed dog exercise because you don’t want to affect their joint growth.

Some people insist this is crazy-paranoid and to just not allow your young dog to jump/run on concrete, but long walks are fine.

Here is what seems to work for Betsy. It’s hopefully not affecting her joints, but if we cut back on her exercise she’d be miserable. She needs it!

  • 40 minute walk in the morning
  • 20-40 minute walk halfway through the day
  • 1 hour walk in the evening
  • 30 minute – 1 hour game of tug/fetch/chase/whatever in the evening
  • 15 minutes obedience in the evening
  • 20 minutes of “find it” (I hide a treat under a bowl and she has to pick which one it is. Alternatively, I’ll hide it around the house and she has to find it.)

On the weekends, some of this is substituted by an hour of puppy playtime with other young energetic dogs (phew)

I also often feed her meals through a puzzle toy to try to tire out her mind, although she finds it laughably easy and I don’t think it’s really all that mentally exhausting for her.

Ok, so this seems like a fair bit, right? Let’s say an average of 2 hours and 25 minutes of exercise + various “mental workouts” Not the absolute most – I’m sure working dogs, agility dogs, etc get WAY more, but decent, right?

So I’m googling other peoples’ large-breed dog exercise regimes and it seems like a lot of them think that two 20-30 minute walks per day is a generous amount, which is WAY less that what I’m doing with Betsy! And I think it’s not enough…. But maybe I’m wrong? How are their dogs not running around like maniacs in the house? I always find that when Betsy hasn’t had enough exercise she’s absolutely insane.

(by the way, that’s not some terrifying dog cage fight in the featured post image. It’s two puppies playing at puppy class!)


Puppy Walking

5 months old

One thing I find really weird is how many “stressful” “problems” we’ve had with Betsy that upset me SO MUCH and I feel like it is THE END OF THE WORLD WE ARE DOG PARENT FAILURES… and then a week or two later I’m like “Oh yeah, I forgot that was even a thing!”

One of the first puppy problems we encountered was the walk.

Betsy hated the walk.

Mainly, she hated leaving the house. She’d sit and she’d refuse to move. She’d jump into my arms nervously. She’d whine, she’d shake. When we finally got back home, she’d suddenly switch gears and desperately try to drag us towards the house. We felt like jerks, but were advised by various people to just keep trying.

This went on for several weeks, and then there was a turning point.

There were actually two turning points.

One was the neighbour’s dog. Betsy loves the neighbour’s dog. He’s a 7 year old black lab and he barks at her whenever we go out for a pee break. Betsy alternates between running away, barking back, and trying to play through the fence. He’s a really friendly old guy, and one day me and Betsy happened to be going for a walk at the same time as the neighbour. Betsy was SO OBSESSED with chasing after her super fun neighbour-dog that she forgot how much she hated going for walks! Even though we took a different direction from the neighbour, just the act of getting out there completely shook Betsy from her fearful funk, and we had our first fun walk together ever.

I think the other turning point came when we started loose-leash training in obedience class (we started obedience class when Betsy was about 3.5 months old) and I started carrying treats with me to encourage her to walk next to me and not way in front/way behind.

On a walk

Approx. 3.5 month old Betsy on a walk, trying to pose but distracted by some Dachshunds that are walking by.

Now I carry treats AND toys with me, and our walks have become so much more fun for both of us. We don’t just walk. We walk, we train, we play a little as a reward for good training, we get to meet people and dogs (Betsy loves meeting people and dogs). My one regret is that I didn’t start bringing treats and toys with me sooner, but honestly I don’t know if it would have mattered. I think the real problem was Betsy’s age – she was just a little too young to enjoy walks when we first got her.