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The Importance of Exercising Your Dog by PetWell

The Importance of Exercising Your Dog


The importance of exercising your dog should be top of mind. As dog owners, we are all aware that it's our responsibility to ensure the well-being of our pets, and an integral aspect of their health is regular exercise. 

While it may be tempting to think of daily walks as merely a way to expend excess energy, the significance of exercising your dog goes far beyond that. Physical activity is a fundamental necessity that not only keeps your dog physically fit but also contributes to their mental health, longevity, and overall quality of life. 

In this article, we will delve into the multifaceted importance of dog exercise. Exploring its physical and mental benefits, safety considerations, and tailored approaches for dogs of various ages and breeds. Plus we will provide essential tips on how to ensure your fur family stays active and safe.

A paramount concern in dog exercise is safeguarding their joint health, a concern that applies to dogs of all life stages, from puppies to adults and seniors. 

To support their joint well-being, consider integrating PetWell MOBILITY supplements and Freeze-Dried Functional Treats into your dog's diet. MOBILITY boasts a blend of all-natural, anti-inflammatory ingredients, expertly formulated by a pet naturopath, to promote and maintain optimal joint health in your dog.
PetWell MOBILITY hip and joint supplement and treats for dogs and cats

The Importance of Exercising Your Dog and its Benefits

Before getting into the specifics, let's take a closer look at the importance of exercising your dog and the wide-ranging benefits of exercising your dog.

Benefits of Dog Exercise: Physical

  • Maintaining a Healthy Weight: preventing obesity and related health issues such as diabetes and joint problems.
  • Strong Muscles and Bones: reducing the risk of injuries
  • Cardiovascular Health: Dogs benefit from a stronger heart and better circulation through exercise
  • Improved Digestion: Aids in better digestion and can help prevent gastrointestinal problems.

Benefits of Dog Exercise: Mental

  • Stress Relief: helping to reduce anxiety and hyperactivity
  • Mental Stimulation: Engaging in various activities stimulates your dog's mind, preventing boredom and destructive behaviour
  • Better Sleep: Tired dogs tend to sleep more soundly and peacefully.
  • Enhanced Socialisation: Social activity allows your dog to interact with other dogs and people.

You can read more about the Mental Benefits of Dog Exercise and Benefits of Exercise for Dogs: Exercises to Boost Your Dog’s Health

Now that we know the importance of dog exercise, let's explore the key aspects of keeping your furry companion active and healthy.

Safe Ways to Exercise a Dog

dog with lead The Importance of Exercising Your Dog by PetWell

Investing in the right equipment is a fundamental step in ensuring your dog's safety during exercise. The choice of collars, leashes, and harnesses can greatly impact your dog's comfort and safety. Here's a closer look at the importance of each:

  • Collars: Opt for flat collars, which are more comfortable and less likely to cause neck strain or injury. Avoid choke chains or prong collars, as they can be harmful and may lead to neck or trachea injuries.
  • Leashes: Choose a leash that suits your dog's activity. A standard leash is ideal for walking, while longer leads may be suitable for off-leash activities in controlled environments. Avoid retractable leashes as they can pose safety risks.
  • Harnesses: For dogs that tend to pull on the leash, harnesses can distribute the pressure more evenly across the chest, reducing the risk of neck and tracheal injuries. Front-clip harnesses can also deter pulling.


Constant supervision is key to ensuring your dog's safety during exercise. Whether you're at the park, on a hiking trail, or just playing in the backyard, always keep a watchful eye on your dog. 

Know Your Dog's Limits

Every dog is unique, and their exercise needs and capabilities vary. To exercise your dog safely, it's essential to understand their limits and adapt your routine accordingly:

  • Age: Puppies, seniors, and adult dogs have different exercise requirements. Puppies should engage in shorter, low-impact activities, while senior dogs may need gentler exercise. Adult dogs can generally handle more vigorous activities.
  • Breed: Different dog breeds have distinct exercise needs. High-energy breeds like Border Collies or Huskies may require more intense exercise, while brachycephalic breeds like Bulldogs should avoid strenuous activities due to their breathing difficulties.
  • Individual Needs: Pay attention to your dog's health and fitness level. If your dog has any pre-existing medical conditions, consult with a veterinarian to determine appropriate exercise routines. 

Warm-Up and Cool-Down for Dogs

Dog stretching The Importance of Exercising Your Dog by PetWell

Just like humans, dogs benefit from warm-up and cool-down routines to prevent injuries. A few minutes of light play or walking before and after exercise can make a significant difference.

Warm-Up for Dogs

  • Improved Blood Circulation:  Warming up your dog's muscles with a few minutes of light play or walking increases blood circulation.
  • Reduced Risk of Injury: Making their muscles more flexible and less prone to strains or injuries. 
  • Enhanced Muscle Performance: Readies your dog's muscles for action, improving their strength and endurance. 
  • Joint Lubrication: The gentle, low-impact movements during a warm-up stimulate the production of synovial fluid, which lubricates the joints. 

Cool-Down for Dogs

  • Prevents sudden stops: After exercise, a cool-down period helps your dog gradually lower their heart rate and body temperature. 
  • Reduces muscle soreness: Allows the muscles to slowly relax and recover. 
  • Promotes mental relaxation: A calming time for your dog, allowing them to return to a relaxed state. 
  • Aids in Recovery: Helps promote the removal of waste products, such as lactic acid, from the muscles. 

How to Lead Dogs into Exercise

Lead your dog into exercise by making it a fun and rewarding experience. Use toys, treats, and enthusiastic encouragement to get them excited about physical activity.

Here are three key points on how to lead dogs into exercise effectively:

  • Gradual progression: Start exercise routines gradually and increase intensity or duration over time. 
  • Positive reinforcement: Use positive reinforcement techniques like treats, praise, and toys to motivate your dog during exercise. Encourage good behaviour and make workouts an enjoyable experience.
  • Set the pace: Lead the exercise by setting the pace and direction, especially during activities like leash walking or jogging. 

Puppy Exercise Guidelines

two puppies The Importance of Exercising Your Dog by PetWell.jpg

Puppies have boundless energy but need structured exercise to avoid overexertion. Here are three short tips on how to follow “Puppy Exercise Guidelines” effectively and safely:

  • Short, frequent sessions: Short play sessions several times a day to match your puppy's energy levels. Avoid long, strenuous activities that may overtax their developing bodies.
  • Age-appropriate activities: Tailor exercise to your puppy's age and breed. Focus on gentle play, basic training, and socialisation activities suitable for their developmental stage.
  • Supervise and observe: Always supervise your puppy during exercise, watch for signs of fatigue or discomfort, and adjust the activities accordingly. 

Puppies are still developing physically and mentally, so gentleness is crucial to ensure their well-being and prevent potential injuries or stress.

Best Exercises for Puppies

  • Playtime: Interactive play sessions with toys, such as fetch or tug-of-war, help puppies develop physical coordination and burn off energy
  • Obedience training: Basic obedience training exercises, like sit, stay, and recall, not only teach essential commands but also engage your puppy mentally. 
  • Short walks: Gentle, short walks in a controlled environment, such as your backyard or a quiet area, can introduce your puppy to the concept of walking on a leash.

Exercise for Ageing Dogs

old dog The Importance of Exercising Your Dog by PetWell

Exercising senior dogs safely is important - Focus on low-impact activities and consult your veterinarian for guidance on adapting your dog's routine.

Here are three easy tips for exercising senior dogs safely:

  • Low-impact activities: Like leisurely walks or swimming reduces stress on your ageing dog's joints and muscles.
  • Listen to your dog: Pay attention to your dog's cues during exercise. If they show signs of fatigue, discomfort, or reluctance, it's essential to adjust the routine or consider a break. 
  • Warm-up and cool-down: Incorporate warm-up and cool-down routines into your senior dog's exercise regimen. Gentle stretching and short walks before and after exercise can help prevent muscle strains and stiffness.

Read more about Safely Exercising Senior Dogs with Care

Dog Exercise Routines by Breed

The amount of daily exercise your dog needs can vary significantly based on their breed and size. Here’s a general guideline:

  • Small breeds (e.g. Chihuahua, Dachshund): 30 minutes to 1 hour of exercise per day.
  • Medium breeds (e.g. Beagle, Bulldog): 1 to 2 hours of exercise per day.
  • Large breeds (e.g. Labrador, Golden Retriever): 2 to 3 hours of exercise per day.
  • Active breeds (e.g. Border Collie, Husky): 2 to 3 hours plus, of exercise per day.

NOTE: These are general guidelines, and individual dogs may have unique needs. Tailor your dog’s exercise routine to their specific requirements, age, and health condition.

Dog Exercise and Joint Health

2 dogs The Importance of Exercising Your Dog by PetWell

Proper exercise is a key component of maintaining your dog's joint health. Regular, moderate exercise helps keep their joints lubricated and strengthens the muscles around the joints, offering stability and support. However, it's crucial to be mindful of certain factors to promote optimal joint health:

  • High-impact activities: While exercise is essential, high-impact activities like jumping, intense agility training, or long-distance running can strain a dog's joints, particularly in larger or susceptible breeds. Over time, this may lead to joint issues, such as osteoarthritis.
  • Consult with your vet: If you have concerns about your dog's joint health, especially in older dogs or specific breeds prone to joint problems, consult your veterinarian. 
  • Supplements: Supplements like PetWell MOBILITY has naturally occurring omega-3 fatty acids as well as glucosamine and chondroitin which support joint health and reduce inflammation in pre-existing joint issues.

Preventing Dog Injuries During Exercise

Preventing injuries during exercise is a priority for your dog's overall health and well-being. These injuries can range from minor strains to severe ligament tears, and taking the following precautions can help reduce the risk:

  • Gradual and consistent exercise: Build your dog's exercise routine gradually. Sudden, strenuous activities can strain muscles and joints. Consistency in their exercise regimen allows their body to adapt to increased activity levels over time, reducing the risk of injury.
  • Physical condition and rest: Pay close attention to your dog's physical condition during exercise. Watch for signs of fatigue, or discomfort, such as limping or hesitating to move. If you notice any of these signs, give your dog ample rest and recovery time.
  • Variety and cross-training: Incorporate a variety of exercises and activities into your dog's routine. This helps prevent overuse injuries associated with repetitive movements and muscle imbalances. 

Socialisation and Dog Exercise

The importance of exercising your dog goes beyond the health benefits. Exercise also provides an excellent opportunity for dogs to socialise with other dogs and humans, promoting positive behaviour and better mental health.

Exercising Dogs in Hot Weather

Hot weather can be dangerous for dogs. Here are three essential tips for hot-weather exercise with your dog:

  • Choose cooler times: Exercise your dog during the cooler parts of the day, such as early morning or late evening. Avoid midday when temperatures are at their peak, and the pavement can be scorching. Hot asphalt can burn your dog's paw pads. If it's too hot for your hand, it's too hot for your dog's paws.
  • Stay hydrated: Ensure your dog has access to fresh water before, during, and after exercise. Dehydration is a significant risk in hot weather. Signs of dehydration include excessive panting, dry gums, and lethargy.
  • Shorter, shaded routes: Opt for shaded routes with plenty of opportunities to rest and cool off. Keep exercise sessions shorter in hot weather to prevent your dog from overheating. If you notice signs of heat exhaustion, such as heavy panting, drooling, or weakness, stop the activity immediately and move your dog to a cool, shaded area.
Dog drinking The Importance of Exercising Your Dog by PetWell

Mental Stimulation for Dogs Through Exercise

Exercise is not just about physical activity for dogs; it's an opportunity to engage their minds and fulfil their cognitive needs. Mental stimulation is vital for a dog's overall well-being, as it helps prevent boredom, anxiety, and destructive behaviour. Here's how you can effectively incorporate mental stimulation into your dog's exercise routine:

  • Introduce New Games: Dogs thrive on novelty and the challenge of learning new things. Incorporate games that encourage problem-solving and creativity. 
  • Puzzles and Interactive Toys: Invest in puzzle toys or interactive feeders that dispense treats as your dog figures out how to access them. These toys can keep your dog mentally occupied, especially when you're not available for direct play.
  • Agility Training: Agility training, which involves navigating obstacle courses, is both physically and mentally stimulating for dogs. It requires them to focus on commands, make split-second decisions, and problem-solve as they complete each course. You can set up a backyard agility course or enrol your dog in an agility class.

A paramount concern in dog exercise is safeguarding their joint health, a concern that applies to dogs of all life stages, from puppies to adults and seniors. 

In Summary

The importance of exercising your dog is not just a matter of physical fitness; it's vital for their mental well-being as well. By understanding your dog's unique needs and following safe exercise practices, you can ensure your fur family lives a happy, healthy, and active life. So, grab that leash and enjoy the many benefits of exercising your dog!


The entire contents of this email and website are not to be taken as medical advice. PetWell encourages you to make your own pet healthcare decisions based on your research and in partnership with a qualified pet healthcare professional.

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