No matter what kind of dog you have, most four-footers require plenty of regular exercise to ensure they stay healthy and happy. But some breeds require much more exercise than others.
For some owners, high-energy breeds are a blessing. If you are an avid runner or cyclist, for example, you’ll love doing so alongside an Australian shepherd or Dalmatian. But for owners who tend to stay closer to the couch or computer, a high-energy breed can be a handful.
This isn’t good for either party, so be sure to consider the energy needs of any breed before making your selection.
The exercise needs of different breeds vary greatly. There are a few breeds, such as English bulldogs and many toy breeds, who don’t need much more exercise than a daily walk or two. But at the other end of the spectrum, many owners find it difficult to exhaust the average Siberian husky.
Generally speaking, dogs need about 30 to 120 minutes of exercise a day. Speak with your vet about your dog’s specific requirements, and always be sure to start exercising your dog gradually to avoid causing injuries.
Pay attention to your dog, and he will generally let you know how much exercise he needs. If you go out for a 2-mile jog with your pup and he is still running around like a lunatic, you may need to provide a little more exercise.
On the other hand, if you must slow down over the last leg of your journey to accommodate your dog, you may be pushing him a little too far.
Just like humans, dogs benefit from regular exercise in a number of ways. This includes not only physiologically, but mentally and emotionally as well.
Exercise will reduce the number of destructive or undesirable behaviors your dog exhibits. It’s been said before, but it always bears repeating: A tired dog is a happy and well-behaved dog. Dogs that don’t get sufficient exercise and stimulation act out in a number of ways, none of which are fun to deal with.
Exercise provides a way to bond with your dog. No matter how much time you get to spend with your buddy, it’s never enough. Anytime you can get out with your dog, you’ll both reap the rewards.
Dogs and humans both experience hormonal changes when gazing into each other’s eyes, so take advantage of every chance you get to spend time with the pooch.
Exercise can help stave off some long-term illnesses. Regular, moderate exercise can help prevent things like arthritis, diabetes and cardiovascular problems. Incidentally, getting your dog more exercise usually increases the amount of exercise you get too, which will help you avoid some of the same medical problems.
Exercise is fun! This just in: Playing with your dog is a highly enjoyable activity. Just be sure to pick a dog whose talents and preferences align with your own. If you’re a swimmer, pick a Weimaraner that’ll likely dog paddle for days; if you’re a runner, start trying to decide if you can keep up with a Dalmatian or if a Border Collie is a more appropriate choice.
And if you are an admitted couch potato, pick a pet that likes to play fetch – it is the easiest way to get your pup exercise without expending much energy yourself.
There are a number of different ways you can get your dog more exercise, and many of them will provide you with some extra exercise as well. Just be sure to pick a good activity for your dog; he should enjoy whatever you do so he doesn’t view it as a daily chore.
If you don’t have a yard in which your dog can take care of his bathroom needs, you’ll already need to take him for a walk three or four times a day. While some breeds will tire with three or four 20-minute walks a day, many others will require much longer walks to wear them out.
If you like to run, you should consider taking your dog along with you to get him some exercise too. Unlike walking, jogging or running will burn a pretty significant number of calories, and you can probably tire out most breeds by doing so (provided that you can run for several miles at a time).
You can even use a hands-free leash specifically designed for running to keep your pup safe without ruining your running stride.
Swimming is a fantastic way to get your dog exercise, and many breeds love the water. Not only does swimming provide an intensive workout, it does so in a low-impact way. This makes it a great option for older dogs who are suffering from joint problems, such as arthritis.
Always be sure to keep safety in mind when allowing your dog to swim, and have a plan ready to rescue him if he gets into trouble.
Not all dogs like to play fetch – some simply lack the instinct to chase after a tennis ball or frisbee. But these types of games are a great way to get your dog some more exercise. After all, you don’t have to expend much energy to play these games.
You can exhaust your pup’s mind, body and soul by playing chucking a frisbee (or launching a tennis ball), for a half hour, while you stay seated sipping your favorite beverage.
Even the highest-energy breeds can overdo it or suffer injury, so keep safety at the forefront of your mind when playing with the pooch.
Stop immediately if your dog suffers an injury. A slightly tweaked ankle can become a whole lot worse if you let your dog continue. Carry your pup if need be, but don’t make him walk any farther than absolutely necessary. Obviously, lacerations, broken teeth or blunt-force injuries require immediate veterinary attention.
As a matter of practice, you should carry a good first aid kit at all times for bandaging wounds or pulling out splinters – just don’t use any of the medications in the kit without consulting a veterinarian.
More often than not, it is wise to keep your dog on a leash. Countless pets disappear each year while running off-leash. Although your pet may have run off-leash for years without a hint of a problem, you never know what you’ll encounter on your run tomorrow.
Cars, cats, pedestrians, broken glass, toxic chemicals and wanderlust are but a few of the compelling reasons to err on the side of caution. But whether you heed this advice or not, it is always smart to use a GPS tracker when getting out with your dog.
Be sure to keep your pup sufficiently hydrated. This is a more immediate concern in hot weather, but most conscientious owners are pretty good about providing their pet with enough water during the summer – it is during the winter that many fail to do so.
Remember that winter air is often quite dry, which accelerates the rate at which your dog loses moisture. Bring along a water bottle and collapsible water dish, and you’ll never have a problem.
If you think you’ve got the endurance to accommodate a truly high-energy breed, you’ll be well served by choosing from among the eight below.
As you may expect, dogs that were bred to drag a sled across mile after mile of ice have incredible exercise needs. If you don’t keep your husky properly exercised, he’ll surely develop behavioral problems and become depressed.
Huskies love to pull things, so while you can run or bike with them, you may be able to wear them out more effectively by engaging in some dragging or pulling activities.
Thanks to their cattle- and sheep-herding past, Australian Shepherds have very high energy levels and require a great deal of exercise to keep them healthy, fit and full of life. Aussie Shepherds love to run, so they make perfect running or cycling companions, but some also display an aptitude for agility course work, disc games and similar activities.
Like many of the other breeds on this list, the Vizsla was designed to be a pointing and retrieving dog. Long-legged and lean, these dogs often had to travel for hours at a time, helping their human to feed the family.
This provided them with an incredible reservoir of inner energy, which is hard to completely empty. You won’t be able to tire your Vizsla with a 20-minute walk, so plan on a lifetime of playing fetch or running with your pup.
Dalmatians were originally bred to run alongside horse-drawn carriages, where they’d protect the riders from bandits and wild animals. But even today, they retain this running instinct and impressive stamina. Dalmatians are one of the very best companions for runners, but they make good companions for bicyclists too.
Belgian Malinois dogs have some of the highest exercise requirements among popular breeds. In fact, their incredible willingness to work and exercise for hours at a time is one of the reasons that many military and police K9 handlers often enlist the help of Belgian Malinois dogs.
For a long time, Plotts were primarily used for tracking and treeing raccoons and mountain lions or hunting boars and bears. However, they’ve become more popular as companion animals in recent years, and more and more Plotts are serving as family pets than proper hunting dogs.
Unfortunately, few understand the amount of exercise plots require, which leads to behavioral problems and a depressed, frustrated or anxious pup.
Another hunting breed that needs plenty of room to roam, Weimaraners are infamous for their spooky-yet-endearing expression and gorgeous gray coat. However, like many other hunting breeds, Weimaraners need plenty of exercise to help deplete their considerable energy reserves.
Weimaraners often love to play fetch for hours at a time, but they often enjoy running with their owners and swimming as well.
Often recognized as one of the smartest breeds in the world, border collies are another herding breed who were born to run, jump and play. The combination of intelligence and high energy levels can make for a destructive dog, so it is especially important to make sure you are emptying out your border collie’s fuel tank on a regular basis.
We explained that our list certainly left off a number of other high-energy breeds, so tell us which ones we missed! I’m sure there are more than a few families with a golden retriever, labradoodle or Puli that never seems to tire – tell us all about him or her.
We’d also love to know what kinds of activities you do with your dog to get him the exercise he needs? What has worked and what hasn’t? Let us know in the comments below.