How Far Should I Walk My Dog?

Question: How far should I walk my dog? I want to make sure my dog gets enough exercise, but I don't want to overexert him. How long should a good walk be for a dog? Does it depend on the dog's size?

Answer There is not one single right answer to this question. Some dogs will do fine with a two-block walk, while others can go two miles. A good rule of thumb is that the shorter the dog's legs, the less distance he can go. Smaller dogs, like pugs or toys, won't be able to go as far as large dogs, like golden retrievers. A dog's breed is important as well. Short-legged breeds, like bulldogs and daschunds, won't be able to walk as far as breeds with longer-legged builds. The walking environment is also a factor. Hot weather will not only make a dog more prone to overheating, but it can heat cement up enough that it could be painful for your dog's paws. Dogs can also walk farther on dirt trails than on sidewalks or asphalt, because rough concrete can be hard on the pads of their feet.

Your dog's age and general health are important as well. If your dog doesn't usually get much exercise, you won't want to start him off with a three-mile jog. Gradually extend the length of your walks to build his endurance. Arthritis, heart disease, and a number of other health concerns could also affect the length of your walks. If your dog has health problems, discuss how far he can walk and how much exercise he should get with your veterinarian.

In the long run, your best bet is to observe your dog while you're walking. When he starts panting excessively and acts tired, then he's walked far enough. This is also a good way to keep an eye on your dog's health. If he used to go three miles with you and now only walks a few blocks, you should consult your veterinarian. It could be a sign of a health problem.

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To Your Success,

Chad Thompson
Canine Behavior Expert



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