How many times should you take your dog for a walk?
This is probably one of the most common questions that behaviorists hear from dog owners. One friend goes for a walk with her dog three times a day, and another doesn’t go for a walk at all – because she has a garden at her disposal. Both dogs are alive and doing great! So how do I know if my dog needs a walk? How long should a walk with a dog last? And how to make it attractive to your pet?
Walking is almost the most important activity in every dog’s life – our pets live to walk! However, before we clearly answer the question “how many times should you take your dog for a walk?”, we need to consider a few important things. We need to extract are we dealing with a puppy or an adult dog, or maybe we have a retired dog, or maybe it is a dog with some dysfunction? Does our dog have any additional activities, for example, do we take him to training in tracking, nosework, or maybe agility?
But what’s the point of all this? Imagine that you go to the gym for the first time and do the same sets of exercises as everyone else in the gym. It’s a bit pointless, don’t you think? A young, strong boy who exercises regularly will have different exercises than an older man who is going to the gym for the first time.
The place for a walk is also important: whether we walk in the city, in a park, in a clearing, in meadows or in the forest. The time of day is also important – a walk in the park looks different in the morning and in the evening, or on weekdays and on weekends. We should also take into account what we are doing on this walk with the dog, are we active? Or does our presence come down to just holding the other end of the leash in one hand and the phone in the other?
And most importantly, what type of dog do we live with: Is it a primitive hunting dog or maybe a companion dog? But don’t let the typology fool you, remember that each dog is a separate entity, a different personality. Predispositions are not everything, character also counts.
Walking with a puppy and walking with an adult dog
Puppies should be walked quite regularly, after any activity that increases metabolism. In this phase of growing up, we focus on learning cleanliness and socialization, which is why the dog needs walks often, but these walks cannot be too long. Because a puppy needs a lot of sleep to develop properly. Guardians should also make sure that the dog returns as little as possible. Unfortunately, I cannot tell you how much time you should spend walking your dog. Walking time is an individual matter because each dog is different. You need to observe your puppy and see if he is already saying that he wants to come back, or maybe you will already notice that the environment is getting too difficult? It is important to calmly accustom the dog to stimuli, teach it cleanliness and broadly understood socialization.
And how often to go out adult dog? First of all, we consider the dog toilet. I came across the so-called technical walk, which is mainly based on meeting physiological needs. If we are able to take the dog for a walk every few hours, let’s do it. The argument is often raised on social media groups that a dog can withstand eight or ten hours in the absence of its owner – maybe that’s true, but I can’t imagine keeping my dog for that many hours when I know that I wouldn’t be able to withstand that long myself. We distinguish between a technical walk and a proper one, which is intended to meet dog needs such as play and exploration, and social contacts.
We plan this longer walk to meet as many of the dog’s needs as possible, of course taking into account our dog’s condition and mood.
So how often should you take your dog for a walk? At least once a day! The dog must receive the right amount of exercise! In addition to physical stimulation, mental stimulation is extremely important, which is why such a walk is super important. Some people will take an hour, others two hours, and still others will take a three-hour walk at a time, or split it into two walks of one and a half hours each – as you can see, it is an individual matter. Watch your dogs to see if they want to go out or if they are very tired. It is also worth remembering that if the dog wants to go out, it does not mean that it is not tired, because I know cases where the dog was overtired, but still wanted to go out with its owner.
Senior dogs and dogs with disabilities – here we match the activities during a walk to the dog, a retired dog may need less exercise during a walk, which means the walks will be short, but it may have problems with going to the toilet, then we have more trips with the dog.
As you can see, there is no universal advice on how often to take your dog for a walk, because the answer is – it depends. It may turn out that we will go out with the dog often, but these trips will be short or we will have to go out for two or three hours because our dog needs it.
What should a walk look like?
The ideal walk with a dog is one that is based on the quality, not the quantity of time spent, because you can walk in silence on a two-meter leash for three hours, but will this meet all the dog’s needs?
First of all, during a walk, the dog has time for itself and time spent with its owner. If your dog likes training, exercise with him! Train with it in various environments, not only at home! Game! Grab the tugs and play with your dog, hunting games will be great, remember to close the dog’s chain – by scattering food in the grass, or maybe active feeding? A dog is a conqueror! He may like this form of activity! Do you have dog friends? So feel free to combine your walks and go for a walk together from time to time.
Take your dog to a new place! Let him sniff and explore the world with his nose! Don’t be angry that your dog hangs for three minutes by a tuft of grass, the walk is for the dog. Look at him and be amazed at how he absorbs the world, how it is here and now. In my opinion, dogs teach us a lot and for me, seeing a dog sniffing on a walk is something beautiful.
Do not take your dog for a walk to difficult places or crowded city districts. Festivals and cultural events are dedicated to people, do not expose your dog to unnecessary stress.
Training rope – If you cannot let your dog loose, be sure to buy a dog leash or a training rope five or even ten meters long. The dog needs to leave us from time to time or go into the bushes to follow the scent.
Bowl and water – It is important for a dog that the dog always has access to fresh water. A dog that wants to cool down or simply hydrate itself may start drinking water from puddles, and if it is a puddle on the road with cars constantly passing by, I don’t think I need to explain how dirty and polluted this water is.
Favorite toy – like a jerk to me! Whether with just fur or with fur and a ball! If your dog likes to play with you, you will have great fun on a walk. Additionally, I often use the toy to support my dog. When he was a young puppy, he bravely carried his prey past cows and horses. Now, the toy helps him release his emotions and serves as an alternative when the dog is given up on the chase.
Delicious, crunchy and other food things! For training? To play? To distract? To be rewarded? Definitely yes! Remember to equip yourself with a training bag.
Good mood! This is the basis! A dog is a barometer of our feelings, if you don’t feel up to it, do a quick technical walk and do the actual one a little later, it’s always better to walk alongside a happy person.
Don’t forget about bags for dog excrement, let’s not leave behind dogs surprises for other participants of public areas.
I have a garden, is a walk necessary?
What if I have a house, a huge plot of land, a solid fence, how often should I walk my dog? For me there is no difference – a dog needs walks, if only to satisfy the desire to see new places and collect new smells. Dogs often treat the garden as an extension of the house, which means that they will not want to satisfy their physiological needs on the plot. They will do it if they are forced or taught, but a dog that knows it has options for a walk will stick to its physiological needs.
Dog run – is it a good idea?
If you intend to treat the dog park as a place to run your dog and you intend to do it every day, I can already say that this is a terrible idea. You never know who you’ll meet on a catwalk like this. Maybe it will work and the dogs will accept each other, or maybe it won’t work and you will throw your dog into a group of dogs that will bully him, and you will think that the dogs are having a great time because they are chasing and jumping so much. If you have a dog that you cannot let off the leash for some reason and you want to play with it, an empty fenced dog run is a good option. If you have a dog friend with whom you want to meet your dog, this will definitely be a good choice.
Finally, I leave you with my favorite topic, the decompression walk. This is a walk where we focus on reducing stress in the dog and relaxing it. It is best to take such walks in fields, meadows, away from the hustle and bustle of the city – the less stimuli, the better. We limit the stressors that occur in our dog’s life and in our lives. The dog runs freely, enjoys the smells, reduces stress levels and regenerates batteries.