Keeping your dog healthy and happy requires more than just a healthy diet and regular visits to the vet. Exercising your dog regularly is equally important in order to tone the muscles, encourage the body and metabolism to function well, stimulate the brain, promote good behavior, and increase socialization.
Every dog needs to exercise daily, but not all dogs need to engage in the same type or amount of physical activity daily. The amount of exercise a dog requires daily to stay healthy depends on many different factors, such as breed, age, size, body type, and overall health. A general rule of thumb is that dogs should get between 30 minutes and 2 hours of exercise every day. Larger breed dogs, like retrievers, collies, shepherds, will need the most exercise; while smaller and toy breed dogs, like terriers, Maltese's, don't require as much daily physical activity. Furthermore, short-nosed (flat-faced) breeds, also known as brachycephalic breeds, like bulldogs and pugs do not need a significant amount of daily exercise.
Most dogs won't exercise themselves, which is why it's important to make sure pet parents spend the time to make sure their dog is getting adequate physical activity. Simply letting your dog outside isn't sufficient. While they might chase a squirrel up a tree, they likely won't exercise themselves nearly as long as needed.
Large breed dogs are more prone to joint issues, which is what makes daily exercise very important for them. Adequate physical activity helps maintain a healthy weight and keeps muscles and joints strong. Taking your dog for a walk or run, hiking on a nearby trail, playing fetch in the backyard, visiting the dog park or beach, or using an agility course are a few of the many fun ways to keep your pup healthy and happy. Note: if you have a large breed puppy, keep the strenuous activity to a minimum until they reach at least a year old. It's not safe to over exercise large breed puppies because their skeleton hasn't fully developed.
Weight gain is often an issue in small breed dogs because pet parents tend not to take them out as often. While smaller dogs definitely don't need a ton of exercise, it's still good to make sure they get about 30 minutes of activity per day, even if it's split into two 15-minute sessions. Breaking exercise up into shorter walks can be especially great for brachycephalic breeds since their noses are flat, making exercise harder on them.
Lack of exercise can lead to many more problems than weight gain and joint issues. Dogs, especially large breed dogs, can get very anxious when they are not exercised properly. This can lead to many unwanted behaviors such as barking, destructive chewing, digging, hyperactivity, and rough-housing inside the house. It's said that a tired dog is a good dog.