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Why Dogs Need Exercise: Importance & Benefits

Dogs flourish when they engage in regular physical activity. Beyond simply burning off energy, exercise offers many benefits to their health and happiness.

From maintaining a healthy weight to fostering mental stimulation and building a stronger bond with us, exercise for dogs is simply a must. There also happens to be some compelling reasons why dogs need exercise, and we have detailed the advantages it brings in this article. A simple game of fetch can be much more than some fun; it enhances the lives of our beloved canine companions immensely! Let's discover how.

Exercise Keeps Your Dog Physically Healthy

Regular exercise is a cornerstone of optimal physical health for our dogs, offering many advantages to their overall well-being:

  • Exercise is pivotal for weight management, safeguarding dogs from the perils of obesity. By keeping their weight in check, dogs are less prone to various health issues, including joint problems, diabetes, and heart disease.

  • Physical activity also does wonders for muscle development, fostering agility and flexibility as muscles are engaged and strengthened. The benefits extend to cardiovascular health as well – activities like walking, running, or joyful games of fetch elevate the heart rate and improve circulation, bolstering the vitality of the cardiovascular system.

  • Regular exercise helps regulate the digestive tract, by providing a routine through which the dog can relieve itself. The impact on joint health is also profound, particularly for aging dogs.

Exercise Helps to Keep Your Dog Mentally Stimulated

The benefits of exercise go beyond physical health, delving into the intricate landscape of your dog's mental well-being. Have you ever heard the phrase, "A tired dog is a happy dog?" Well, this holds true for a reason, as exercise significantly impacts their mental state. Exercise acts as a powerful boredom-buster, preventing dogs from succumbing to restlessness.

Without adequate physical activity, dogs can develop undesirable behaviors such as destructive tendencies, excessive barking, or anxiety, all of which stem from a lack of mental stimulation1.

Engaging in activities that challenge their intellect is equally vital. Puzzle toys1, agility training, and interactive games keep dogs occupied and foster mental engagement. These activities offer mental workouts, effectively preventing cognitive decline and ensuring their minds remain sharp and active.

Finally, exercise serves as a conduit for bonding and socialization. Shared experiences create a stronger connection between dogs and their owners. The companionship and interaction give dogs a sense of security, strengthening the bond and fostering positive social behaviors.
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Exercise Helps with Behavioral Issues

Would you like a well-mannered and harmonious dog? Exercise can help you achieve that! Adequate physical activity curbs hyperactive behaviors, fostering an atmosphere of calm within the home. Dogs that exercise regularly are less likely to exhibit restlessness and excessive energy

Exercise is a natural deterrent to destructive behaviors like chewing on furniture, digging up the garden, and other forms of unwanted activity. These often stem from pent-up energy and boredom. Providing an outlet for this energy through regular exercise is one way to effectively minimise destructive tendencies, creating a more peaceful living environment for everyone.

A well-exercised dog is more receptive to learning and training sessions, exhibiting enhanced focus and concentration. This heightened receptiveness significantly aids in teaching new commands and reinforcing good behavior. The clarity of mind from physical activity allows dogs to comprehend instructions better, leading to quicker and more effective training outcomes.

Exercise Helps to Release Excess Energy

You've probably noticed that your dog is an innately active creature, instinctively wired to explore, play, and move. Exercise is the crucial conduit through which they can release pent-up energy, preventing restlessness and contributing to attaining a state of equilibrium in their temperament. Regular exercise allows dogs to find an appropriate channel for their boundless energy, leading to a more balanced and peaceful disposition.

Exercise also has impacts on a dog's sleep quality. A well-exercised dog is likely to experience a restful sleep, which is a critical component of their overall health. Just as humans benefit from a good night's sleep, dogs require ample rest to rejuvenate their bodies and minds. Physical activity primes their bodies for a deeper and more satisfying slumber, enhancing their overall well-being.

Exercise Helps Your Dog to Socialize

Getting out and being active with your dog offers invaluable opportunities for socialization, as allowing your dog to interact with other dogs during walks or park trips helps to foster, and improve their social skills. Regular interactions with other dogs reduce tendencies towards aggression or fear as dogs become accustomed to various personalities and behaviors.

These positive encounters also translate to better human-canine interactions, as dogs learn to read and respond to cues from their furry companions and their human counterparts. Through shared play, mutual exploration, and the simple act of being part of a pack, exercise transforms into a powerful tool for cultivating a well-adjusted and socially adept dog.
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How Much Exercise Do Dogs Need?

The appropriate amount of exercise varies significantly based on breed, size, age, health, physiological status (pregnant female dog) and energy levels. Tailoring exercise routines to match your dog's needs is essential to ensure their well-being. However, before starting any exercise regime it's important to consult with your veterinarian for the overall health and well being of your dog to determine their fitness for different types of activities and to safely carry them out.

A Dog’s Exercise Requirements Based on Breed/Size

Generally recommendations have suggested that smaller breeds require less intense and shorter (up to 30 mins) exercises compared to medium and larger breeds (1 to 2 hours) many of which are known to have higher activity levels making them ideal for use as working or sporting dogs. It is important to fit pick a breed that matches your activity levels to get the most of of each other
  • Small Breeds (e.g., Chihuahua, Pomeranian)
    Small breeds typically have higher energy levels and can benefit from short bursts of activity throughout the day.

  • Medium Breeds (e.g., Beagle, Bulldog)
    Medium-sized dogs require moderate exercise to prevent weight gain and maintain muscle tone. Implementing walks, playtime, and mentally stimulating activities in your dog’s daily routine is ideal for their overall health and wellbeing.

  • Large Breeds (e.g., Labrador Retriever, Golden Retriever)
    Large breeds have varying energy levels. To help expel some of their excess energy activities like running, hiking, and interactive play can really help with this. However, be cautious with high-impact exercise to protect their joints, especially during growth phases.

  • Giant Breeds (e.g., Great Dane, Saint Bernard)
    Giant breeds have slower growth rates compared to smaller breeds during transition from puppy to adult stages and tend to be less active. It’s best to focus on low-impact exercises daily, such as controlled walks and gentle play.

A Dog’s Exercise Requirements Based on Life Stage

  • Puppies
    Regardless of size, puppies have higher energy levels and need frequent play, socialisation and short walks. However, they should only engage in intense exercise once their growth plates close to prevent joint issues.

  • Adult dogs
    The level of physical activity for an adult dog is greatly impacted by the breed. Breeds with high energy levels, like border collies, demand considerably more exercise than breeds with lower energy levels, like bulldogs.

  • Considering your dog's health is equally crucial. If your adult dog is dealing with a medical condition like a heart problem, you'll need to establish a suitable exercise regimen with your veterinarian.

  • Senior Dogs
    Senior dogs have lower energy levels and may have mobility issues. Aim for gentle, low-impact exercise to keep them active without causing strain.

Important note: Always consider your dog's health – if they have any medical conditions or are recovering from an injury, consult your veterinarian for appropriate exercise recommendations.

How To Exercise Your Dog?

There are plenty of ways to exercise with your dog, from walking, running, hiking and sledding to learning new commands and tricks like retrieving, disc sports and swimming. Just remember that if your dog has been inactive for an extended period or is dealing with physical issues, a sudden increase in activity could lead to discomfort or pain, so match the activity to your dog's health.

The Importance of Nutrition for Regular Exercise

Nutrition isn't just a matter of sustenance; it's the cornerstone of your dog's overall health and vitality. A complete and balanced diet will help to support your dog’s energy levels, and muscle development.

Think of nutrition as the fuel that powers your dog's every move. The proper blend of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates provides the energy needed for their exercise routines. At Eukanuba, we know the unique energy demands of different breeds and activity levels. This is why our formulations are designed to supply your dog with nutrition to help your dog get active and ready for the next adventure.

Exercise Safeguards Your Dog's Physical Health

From maintaining a healthy weight to joint care, exercise is the key to health, mental well being, and connection for our cherished canine friends. Eukanuba is proud to be a supportive player on this journey of vitality and well-being for you and your best friend.

For over 50 years, we’ve used nutritional science to fuel dogs’ athletic abilities, helping to unleash their full potential. Check out our article on prepping your dog for a workout, and grab that lead today!


Royal Canin SAS, 2020. The Dog Encyclopedia. Royal Canin SAS, Aimargues, France. 884 pages.
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