Published: April 4, 2017  

Last updated: July 18, 2024  

As a dog owner, one of the best things you can do for your pup is to ensure they get enough exercise. Walking your dog isn’t just about helping them take a potty break; it’s about maintaining their physical health, giving them a chance to explore the outside world, and providing essential mental stimulation.

But how often should you walk your dog, and why is it so important? The answer varies depending on several factors, including your dog’s age, breed, health condition, and energy levels. Your dog may need a short 10-minute walk, while another dog may need multiple hour-long walks. 

To determine how often and how long your dog needs to walk, you will need to pay close attention to their behavior. You can start with a 20-minute walk, and if they are still full of energy, keep going. If you take a 20-minute walk, and they are tired when you come home, you know you’ve fulfilled their physical exercise needs.

Once you have a walking schedule that works, be consistent. You will notice the bond with your dog become stronger and stronger with every walk.

When we lived in town, I’d take my two dogs, for a short walk in the morning around the block and a long 2-3 mile walk in the evening. When we got home after that 3-mile walk, they were zonked out! Mission accomplished!

Girl walking puppy on a leash.

Walking Puppies and Younger Dogs

Younger dogs and puppies, bursting with energy, often require more frequent walks to help burn off their excess energy. A general rule of thumb is to walk them for 5 minutes for every month of age, up to twice a day. So, a 4-month-old puppy might need a 20-minute walk twice a day. These walks are crucial for their mental and physical development, helping prevent issues like obesity and providing early socialization opportunities.

Be careful not to walk your puppy too much, as their joints are still growing and growth plates aren’t closed. So too much exercise could lead to long-term damage and problems as they get older. 

Walking Adult Dogs and Active Breeds

Adult dogs, especially active breeds like Border Collies and high-energy dogs, may require several hours of exercise each day to maintain a healthy weight and keep their energy levels in check. A mix of daily walks, playtime, and occasional trips to the dog park can help meet their needs. For these dogs, a 30 to 60-minute brisk walk or even longer can be beneficial, alongside other forms of physical activity.

Senior Dogs and Dogs with Health Issues

As dogs age, their needs change. Older dogs, senior dogs, and those with health issues such as hip dysplasia or cardiovascular disease may require shorter walks and less exercise overall. Mobility issues may also necessitate shorter, more gentle walks. It’s essential to adjust their exercise routine to suit their aging bodies, focusing on maintaining joint health without overexertion. A 15-minute gentle walk may be more appropriate for these dogs, ensuring they still get the benefits of fresh air and mental stimulation without straining their health.

A woman walking three dogs on a leash.

Considering Dog’s Breed and Size

The breed and size of your dog play significant roles in determining the right amount of physical activity for them. Larger breeds and active breeds often require more exercise compared to smaller breeds or those with short legs, who might get enough exercise from shorter walks. 

For instance, a Great Dane will need longer and possibly more frequent walks compared to a small, short-legged dog. Meanwhile, smaller breeds or dogs prone to health problems, like smaller dogs with a predisposition for joint issues, may benefit from regular but gentle exercise to keep them agile without causing harm.

A woman walking her dog in the rain wearing a rain coat.

Adapting to Weather Conditions

Weather conditions also influence how often and how long you should walk your dog. In hot weather, shorter, more frequent walks during the cooler parts of the day can prevent overheating. Conversely, in cold weather, some dogs, especially those with thick coats, might still enjoy longer walks, while smaller or short-haired breeds may prefer shorter outings.

On days it’s too cold or pouring rain, we opt for inside games to keep their minds stimulated. Here are some great indoor games to try with your dog.

A woman walking three dogs on a leash.

14 Benefits of Walking Your Dog Daily

Walking your dog daily offers a wide range of benefits for both of you.

  1. Improves Physical Health: Regular walks help maintain your dog’s weight, improve cardiovascular fitness, and can prevent health issues such as obesity, heart disease, and arthritis.
  2. Enhances Mental Health: The mental stimulation that comes from exploring new smells, sights, and sounds during walks can reduce behaviors caused by boredom or anxiety.
  3. Strengthens Bond: Spending quality time together on walks strengthens the bond between you and your dog, enhancing the sense of companionship and trust.
  4. Promotes Joint Health: Regular, gentle walks can help keep your dog’s joints healthy, especially important for older dogs and breeds prone to joint issues like hip dysplasia.
  5. Aids Digestive and Urinary Health: Consistent walking helps regulate your dog’s digestive system and encourages regular bladder movements, which can prevent constipation and urinary tract infections.
  6. Socialization and Confidence: Walks expose your dog to other sights, sounds, and experiences, which are crucial for social development and can reduce fearfulness and aggression.
  7. Reduces Behavioral Problems: Regular walks and exercise can help reduce destructive behaviors by using up excess energy that might otherwise be directed towards unwanted activities like chewing or digging.
  8. Improves Mental Stimulation: The variety of environments and experiences encountered on walks keeps your dog’s mind engaged and curious.
  9. Maintains a Healthy Weight: Regular physical activity helps burn calories, keeping your dog at a healthy weight and reducing the risk of obesity-related health issues.
  10. Lowers Blood Pressure: Just like in humans, regular exercise, including walking, can help lower blood pressure in dogs.
  11. Improves Sleep: Dogs who receive enough physical and mental stimulation through walking are more likely to have a good night’s sleep.
  12. Increases Outdoor Time: Walking your dog gets you outside, providing fresh air and vitamin D for both of you and can improve your mood and overall well-being.
  13. Training Opportunity: Walks are an excellent opportunity to reinforce training commands and improve leash manners, making your dog a more pleasant companion.
  14. Adaptable Exercise: Walking is a flexible form of exercise that can be adjusted based on your dog’s age, health, and energy levels, ensuring they get just the right amount of physical activity.

Incorporating daily walks into your routine can lead to a happier, healthier life for your dog, while also offering numerous benefits for your own physical and mental health.

A long hair dog sitting on the sidewalk with the owner holding a leash.

FAQ for Walking Your Dog Daily

How long should I walk my dog each day?

The ideal length of a walk depends on your dog’s age, breed, and health. Puppies and high-energy breeds may need more frequent walks or longer periods of exercise, while older dogs or those with health issues may benefit from shorter, gentler walks. A general guideline is a 30-minute walk daily, but this can vary greatly depending on the individual dog’s needs.

Can I walk my dog once a week and still keep them healthy?

While any amount of exercise is better than none, walking your dog only once a week is not enough to maintain their health. Dogs need regular physical activity and mental stimulation, which daily walks provide, to stay healthy and happy.

What if my dog doesn’t like going for walks?

Some dogs may be hesitant about walks due to lack of socialization, fear, or health issues. Gradually acclimating your dog to a leash, choosing quiet routes, and ensuring walks are a positive experience can help. If your dog continues to resist walks, consult a veterinarian or a professional dog trainer for advice.

Can I just let my dog out in the backyard instead of going for a walk?

While backyard playtime is excellent for exercise, it doesn’t provide the same benefits as walking. Walks offer new environments and stimuli, which are important for your dog’s mental stimulation and socialization. It’s best to combine both for a well-rounded exercise routine.

There was a time when I’d say everyone needed to take their dog for a walk, but since moving out to a rural area, I have a better appreciation for those who don’t have access to walking paths or trails. We would have to drive somewhere to take a walk safely. So we opt for walks around our property and are blessed with a short hiking trail we take every day and dogs get to sniff all the wonderful smells. 

Are there any risks associated with walking my dog?

While walking is generally safe, keep an eye out for overexertion, especially in hot weather, and ensure your dog is always hydrated. Be mindful of your dog’s physical limits, especially if they’re older or have health issues, and adjust your walking routine accordingly.

If your dog has health issues, is overweight, elderly, or hasn’t been regularly active, it’s a good idea to consult with a vet before changing their exercise routine. They can provide personalized advice based on your dog’s specific health needs.

A couple walking their dog together over a bridge.

Just take a walk

Ultimately, the frequency and duration of walks should be tailored to your individual dog’s needs, considering their age, breed, physical condition, and energy levels. 

Regular walks, whether they’re long hikes for high-energy dogs or short strolls for older pets, are crucial for your dog’s physical and mental health. They can lower blood pressure, improve cardiovascular health, and help maintain a healthy weight. 

Regular exercise routines also offer mental health benefits, providing mental stimulation from new scents, sights, and sounds, and helping to keep your dog happy and balanced.

As a dog owner, if you’re unsure about the best exercise routine for your dog, consider consulting your veterinarian. They can provide guidance based on your dog’s specific needs, ensuring that you’re providing enough exercise without risking their health.

Remember, whether it’s a long walk in the park or a short walk around the block, the goal is to keep your dog healthy, happy, and engaged with the world around them.

About the Author

Debi McKee

Debi McKee is the expert behind Rescue Dogs 101 where she guides you in your journey of adopting and raising a rescue dog every step of the way. She is a mom of 3 human kids and 4 dogs and volunteers for a local dog rescue and Humane Society. Click here for more about Debi and her passion for helping you and your dog.

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  1. Very good article. I have recently adopted a female Pitty- Lab Mix that had been at a local rescue for five years. Why this little girl had never been adopted is true mystery . The male Boxer that we have is 11 years old and the new Pup is about to turn 6. We go for a 30 to 45 minute walk every morning during the week weather permitting and will go over to the local park on Saturdays for them to be able to take in all of the sights and new smells for an hour or two. We had lost our Boxers 10 year old companion to Cancer last year and he had never been without another dog in the house. So far everything has been perfect

  2. I loved that you mentioned that a walk is a great opportunity to teach your dog some tricks. I just got a puppy, but I have to travel on the weekend a lot for work so I won't be able to take her on walks sometimes. I would love to find a pet sitter that I can trust to care for her on a weekend.

  3. This was really helpful. We have a rescue dog that has been with us for about 3 months. Super friendly but jumps on new comers, pulls on the leash and chews everything. So thank you for the tips.

  4. I have a puppy just a year old she has been very smart and quick to learn many things such as body and outside by the age of 6 weeks. Yes I did get her early but that was for other reasons. I do cringe and back to walk her because she’s a puller I have a prong collar that I use and it works excellent. I am a dog walker myself and I suckered into the idea prong collar being mean so I went for the harness front clip and lo and behold she slipped in wiggled and slapped around like a fish two times and got right out of it no problem. Which led to a more dangerous and serious life and death situation of chasing her down or trying to get her back before she gets hit by a car or hurt, or worse yet hurts another person because she is a puppy and not quite socialize yet. I do not have much time to walk my own dogs as sad as that is but that you know what they say about the plumber always having leaky pipes.

  5. Hi, my wife and I just rescued a roughly 1 year old male Pitbull and we already have 3 1/2 year female Pitbull. Rocket, the new addition showed some food guarding and aggression towards our female, we believe it was due to him being a stray before being rescued. Once we saw the aggression we knew we had to nip that in the butt quickly, so we opted for a boarding/training program through a local trainer that had come highly recommended. During the initial consultation the trainer who worked with Rocket explained how the prong collar worked because like a lot of people both my wife and I were solely against them. During his training we became more comfortable with using a prong collar along with an e-collar. We live in the woods and like to let our dogs off leash, so the e-collars help us recall them if they are being stubborn and are more interested in another animal. We’ve had so much success with Rockets training we’ve trained our female to wear the prong collar and e-collars as well. I wouldn’t recommend someone to just buy them off Amazon without first speaking with a professional trainer otherwise you cause serious harm to your animals without knowing.

  6. Hi! Thank you! We have a GSD that is 3 years old. I thought I could train him with a harness type leash but he is in control and it ends up I’m tired and he finally gives up pulling and walks nicely. He wants to pee on anything that sticks out of the ground so I’ve tried walking down the middle of the street which doesn’t keep him from pulling. I think I’m ready to try the prong. How long would you say it’s necessary to use it until he walks nicely without it? How will I know? I need to watch the second half of your video but thank you.

    1. Every dog is different, so I can’t give you an exact timeline. I have one dog that only needed it for about a year, then another that we’ve been using the prong on for 2-1/2 years and he will still pull without it. When he is walking perfectly with the prong for 6 months or so, then occasionally test without it and see how he does.

  7. I have just read your article on dog walking and it has inspired me to walk my dog. Only problem is that this is a near impossible task! I have a 5 year old border collie and he is a very well behaved dog until we step out side the back gate. He likes to chase after cars and he pulls like crazy. I have tried everything I can think of to get him to stop but the only thing that seems to work is taking him places that he can be let off the leash (this is not very practical), I was just wondering if you have any tips that I can try to make walking easier.

  8. I went through so many types of leashes with my 100lbs dog who wouldn’t stop pulling. I finally had success with a slip lead, positioned right behind the ears. He has never walked so easy!

  9. Great help,I have two. Jack terriors one mixed with poodle an one mixed with pit bull. Same mom different Dad’s. Dogs are 5 an 3. Thanks for your help.

  10. Hi, I have used the prong collar for training but I found the easy walk harness works better. My dog was good with the prong collar but I had to put it on him every time we walked. I stopped and got the harness and he is not pulling and walks fine

  11. Next weekend my husband and I are expecting two sister pups from a shelter. I’m a bit nervous about walking two dogs. We have only seen pictures; they look small. Should I walk them both at the same time or take turns with them?

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