Dr. Franck, I have a new dog in my house and I would like to know if I should walk him often or not.
My first neighbor tells me that I should go as often as possible. Then my second neighbor tells me that it depends on each dog and that it’s he who decides.
So I ask myself: do I go every day, even if it is very cold or too hot? Or can I skip a day from time to time?
In this new article, we’ll answer all your questions on this subject!
Of course, going for a quiet walk with your dog is probably the most simple and essential thing you can do.
If you have a dog and you expect him to stay indoors 100% of the time, you probably have the wrong species. Go for a chinchilla or a chameleon that needs a humid tropical environment.
Having a dog necessarily implies a certain level of activity. So I will tell you what you need to know about that.
Factors To Consider
So Dr. Franck, what are the factors that determine how often I walk my new dog?
To begin with, there are some breeds of dogs that are naturally more active than others.
It would take a very long time to name each of the active and less active breeds. So if you don’t already know which category your dog falls into, a quick internet search will definitely tell you! Then the second thing that will come with this is his age. You will understand that a young dog full of energy will need to spend more time during the day. While a dog that is over 8-10 years old will still enjoy a walk, although it may be shorter. It is up to you to adjust to your dog’s needs most of the time.
Despite the breed thing, each dog will have its own temperament as well. It is possible that your supposedly quiet dog is not really quiet.
In short, you have to adapt once again. Then there is also the general state of health to keep in mind. For example, intense exercise may not be recommended if your dog is quite old or has a heart condition. If you have any doubts about your dog’s health, ask your veterinarian, as he or she can tell you more.
The final factor is the weather!
Extreme heat does not prevent you from going outside, although you must be logical and often limit the length of the walk. If you are very hot, your dog is too! Then if it’s really cold, think about putting on protective clothing or having a plan B to stop halfway to check that his paws aren’t frozen. You can also skip a day and do more indoor activity if you really need to.
So we come back to our question: how often should I take my dog out?
A minimum should be twice a day, at least 20-30 minutes.
If you can go 3-4 times, that’s even better! It is also possible to extend each outing as well.
If your dog is fit and wants to keep going, you can take a long walk or start jogging. Basically, you have to get to know your dog and be logical. You have to ask yourself: does my dog like it when it lasts longer or does he prefer to go more often and for a shorter time?
In any case, these suggestions are very general and it is necessary to do some tests to understand what works best for him and for you.
Thank you, Dr. Franck, now I know what I should look at with my dog. As for equipment, do I need something special?
Fortunately, there is only so much equipment needed.
The base is a good-quality leash that you have used in the past. You don’t want it to freeze while you’re away from home. As we said earlier, if your dog tends to be cold, you will have to think about using clothes for the body or protection for the legs. On the other hand, if it is very hot, bring a bottle of water and a portable bowl to avoid dehydration.
As we’ve often said in other articles, common sense is king.
You know your dog best and can determine the level of physical activity and the number of walks you should take him on.
If you are still unsure, you can always consult your veterinarian or a dog trainer.
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Francis Lagacé has been a member of the Ordre des médecins vétérinaires du Québec since 2004. He practiced for 16 years in several veterinary clinics across Canada. He treated animals of all types, mainly cats, dogs and exotic animals (rabbits, rodents, ferrets, birds, reptiles). Since 2020 he has been working in the field of veterinary pharmacovigilance. You can find him on LinkedIn.