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How Much Exercise is Enough and How Much is Too Much?

October 24, 2012

There are no guidelines for how much exercise is enough or too much for a dog. The amount of exercise a dog needs really depends on the breed, age and state of health of the pet.  However, most experts agree that exercise needs to be regular, vigorous, and plentiful. Exercise should include not only walks, but also playing games, fetching, and exercise off a leash (in a safe, appropriate place). Exercise should be provided two to three times daily for a total of at least one hour.

While it is certainly possible to exercise a dog too much, it is usually not very likely.  Most dogs simply stop exercising on their own when they get tired. Exceptions to this rule occur if they are forced to exercise under extraordinary circumstances, such as if under duress (e.g. forced by an abusive owner) or if stressed (e.g. if they get lost and are wandering the streets looking for their way back home).

Dogs can over-exercise if encouraged to do so by their owners. Like their owners, dogs can suffer from "weekend warrior syndrome".  This occurs when normally sedate pets suddenly exercise excessively over a weekend and then have to endure sore muscles the following day.

Over-exercising is rare. If it does occur, it may lead to muscular soreness and eventually to a gradual loss of weight.  Pets may become reluctant to go on walks and may have worn tender foot pads. If walks are too long, a dog may simply sit down and refuse to continue.