When it comes to bundles of energy, few pets are as excitable as dogs. Even those couch potatoes who love to laze about during the day can be prone to bursts of excitement, and as a pet owner, it’s important to ensure you’re meeting your dog’s needs — both physically and mentally.
Exercise is a critical part of every pet’s day, and walking or using a dog walker is a simple way to get your furry friend outside and active. Remember: walks exercise muscles, increase heart rate, and even provide mental stimulation through sights, sounds, and smells!
However, no two dogs are alike, and the ideal walk for one dog might be taxing and stressful for another. While you know your dog best, some aspects of a good walk are generally going to be true according to your dog’s age, regardless of breed.
Here are some customized dog walking plans for every stage of your pet’s life.
Walks With Puppies
Most dog owners with puppies can attest to their boundless energy that leaves them sprinting around the house day and night. However, just because they seem to have so much exuberance does not mean their walks should be long and vigorous.
Puppies are still growing, and they need rest to develop good health. In addition, long or frequent walks can strain their joints and bones, which are not finished forming, resulting in health problems later.
The best strategy for a puppy is to multiply their age in months by five and walk them for that many minutes. For instance, a 6-month-old puppy can walk for 30 minutes safely. Then, it’s back to naptime to allow their body to rest and recover.
When Puppies Turn into Young Adults
Dogs mature at different rates, but in general, your furry friend is no longer considered a puppy when they are between one and two years of age. This is their young adult stage, and they’ll still be finishing up their development during this time.
Keep this in mind as you choose their walk duration and difficulty, as you want to spare them from hazardous locations such as trails with rocky outcrops that could cause them to slip and injure themselves.
Young adult dogs can use walking as a good opportunity for stretching and mental stimulation, abiding by durations similar to what they enjoyed as an older puppy. Continue to offer the opportunity to nap afterward.
Walking Plans for Adult Dogs
Once your dog fully matures, their body is sturdier and ready for more challenging walks. This is a great way to tone their muscles and get their heart pumping!
The length of a walk probably won’t change much for an adult dog, as most enjoy 20 to 30 minutes at a time. However, adult dogs are ready to tackle more than one walking session per day. Aim for one walk in the morning and another in the evening.
Senior Dogs Need Walks, Too!
As your dog ages, their physical ability may start to decline. They may begin to have breathing issues, or their joints may hurt. However, exercise is still critical at this stage.
Go at your dog’s pace, and opt for low-impact walking on grass and soft surfaces rather than hard running on pavement. Aim for at least 30 minutes per day, but don’t be afraid to spread this across multiple bite-sized sessions.
Factors to Keep in Mind
Your dog’s age is one of the biggest factors to consider when creating a walking plan. However, other elements are also important. If your dog has a flat face or is a breed prone to breathing problems, keep the walks more relaxed to ensure your pup has the air they need.
Those with a propensity for stomach torsion and hip dysplasia can also benefit from slower, more deliberate walks focused on scent work rather than running.
Remember that walks are useful tools for not just exercise but also mental stimulation and socialization. If your furry friend is having trouble with walking, there are other alternatives to make sure they get the exercise that’s right for them.
Reach Out to Northern Virginia’s Top Dog Walkers
Walking is a big part of your dog’s daily life, but it’s no secret that finding the time to head outdoors twice (or even once) a day can be a challenge. The experts at Paw Pals are always happy to help man’s best friend achieve the exercise they need on their owner’s schedule.
We provide supplementary help to keep your dog engaged with exercise, even when you don’t have the time. Contact Paw Pals to learn more about our dog walking services, as well as pet sitting, transportation, and a wide variety of other services we offer to make your life easier.