If you’re looking for a good way to bond with your dog, taking him for a walk is certainly a good choice to spend some quality time with him. But how far should you walk your dog?
There are a few different schools of thought on this. Some people say that you should walk your dog as long as possible till he is tired, while others say you should only walk him for a good 30 minute.
There are many opinions about this, and depending on various factors such as his age, breed type, body weight and health condition of your dog, the answer may vary.
As a general rule, multiply your dog’s age in months by five to determine how many minutes he can walk per session.
Say if your dog is 7 months old, he can have a walking session of up to 35 minutes, twice per day.
But as mentioned at the start of this post, you will have to take into consideration the following factors.
Depending On The Breed Of Your Dog
Energetic dog breeds such as Dalmatian, Shetland Sheepdog, Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Russell Terrier and Siberian Husky may require more exercise than an hour of walk daily.
These high-energy dogs need more time to burn the accumulated energy in their body.
Extra walking time (at least 2 hours) and playtime are often needed to help them expend their energy level completely.
If your dog belongs to one of these energetic breeds, you will need to plan for more physical and mental activities to help him release his pent-up energy and to prevent him from developing behavioral problems.
There is a saying that a tired dog is a well-behaved dog and that is why you should plan for a variety of exercises to help your dog to be less destructive and to be calm.
You can incorporate physical games such as fetch, Frisbee, or ball retrieval into his regular playing routine.
Prepare toys like a tennis ball, Frisbee or a bouncy ball, throw them around and encourage your dog to get them for you.
These exercises will make him run around and help him release any pent-up energy in his body.
The size of the dog also plays a role in determining how often and how long his walking session should be.
For small breed dogs such as Mini Poodle, Papillon and Pomeranian, they can have up to 30 minutes of walking per day.
As for medium breed dogs such as Australian Shepherd, Basset Hound and Beagle, they can have up to 80 minutes of walking per day.
Lastly, for large breed dogs such as Afghan Hound, Airedale Terrier and Berger Picard, they can have up to 120 minutes of walking per day.
Of course, if your dog is overweight, you will need to monitor him to ensure that he is not overtired during the walk.
Keep the walking pace slow so that he can catch up with you and make frequent breaks during the walk for him to take a rest and drink some water.
Weather Conditions During The Walk
Another factor to consider is the weather condition.
Dogs with joint pain may not enjoy a long walk in sub-zero temperatures, or if it is pouring down with rain or if there is snow on the ground.
Even when you have put on a winter coat for your dog, it may also be a daunting task for him to take a stroll if he has arthritis and difficulty moving.
For long-haired dog breeds such as Shih-Tzu, Yorkshire Terriers and Border Collie, they will be able to keep themselves warm in the winter time during the walk due to the thick and long fur that they have.
This allows them to enjoy longer walks during the cold season.
Having said that, you should be mindful of his paws as ice may get stuck on the fur, causing him to feel discomfort during the winter walk.
Make sure that his paws are well taken care of, especially in the winter seasons.
You should make him wear dog booties to protect his paws during a snowy walk.
Dogs with shorter and thinner coats such as Boston Terrier, Bulldog and Pug may have problems keeping themselves warm during cold winter times.
Their short fur doesn’t protect them against the harsh winter weather, especially when they are out in the street in that kind of weather.
If your dog belongs to this short fur breed, you will want to make him as warm and safe as possible.
You should invest in a dog vest and gloves to prevent him from feeling chills during the winter.
Keep a watch-out for signs such as shivering or trembling, which is your dog telling you “I’m feeling very cold!”
In summer, when the weather gets hot and humid, you should avoid taking your dog for a walk in the hot sun for more than 30 minutes to prevent any heatstroke or consider buying a cooling vest for him.
Make sure that your dog gets sufficient water to stay hydrated.
If possible, you should take him out for a night stroll instead, which could be an hour’s walk.
There is a myth that long haired dogs get heatstroke much more easily than short fur breeds as their thick coats trap the heat in their body.
This is certainly not true as dogs do not sweat through their skin, and they cool themselves by panting, which is why they pant heavily when they’re hot.
So, if your dog is a short haired breed, it doesn’t mean that he can walk under the sun for a longer period of time as compared to long haired dogs.
Signs to lookout for when your dog is dehydrated include panting heavily, drooling, vomiting, poor coordination, dry sticky gums, and even loss of consciousness.
While heat stroke can occur at any time of the year, it’s often at its peak in the summer months when the sun can be extremely hot.
The Intensity Of The Walk
The intensity level of the walk will affect how far your dog can walk.
If you’re going for a leisure stroll around the neighborhood, he might be able to walk for around 1-3 miles before he gets tired.
But if you were to jog with your dog, he might cover a shorter distance.
This is especially so for older dogs as age plays a significant role in how far your dog can walk.
For senior dogs that are more than 10 years old, any form of movement (be it walking or running) is a challenge to them as their joints are not as strong as they used to be, and their physical health is also deteriorating.
Therefore, it is necessary that you watch out for your dog’s stamina and make sure he is not over walked.
You should take into account his health and fitness level prior to taking him out for a run or a walk.
Always start with a short light walk and slowly increase the distance over time.
Keep a lookout for signs that your dog is telling you that he is tired of walking.
If you see him sitting or lying down during the walk, then it’s time to stop the walk.
Give your dog some water, let him rest for a few minutes and head for home. If he is too tired to walk, you will have to pick him up (assuming he is of a small breed).
Take note how long it takes for your dog to get tired from the walk and adjust the duration and the intensity level on his next walk.
If your dog doesn’t show any signs of fatigue after the walks, it means that he is ready for a longer walk.
It is important to walk at the right pace so that your dog feels comfortable.
Did You Pick the Best Time For the Walk?
Would you go for a stroll on an empty stomach? I bet you wouldn’t. This goes for your dog as well.
If you take him out for a walk right before his meal, he is certainly not going to complete his walk as he’s not going to have the proper energy and attention to go on.
What he wants is to simply get back home and eat.
You should instead take him out for a walk only after his meal as he will be more interested in completing the walk after gaining energy from his meal.
The Familiarity of The Walking Environment
When your dog is walking in an unfamiliar environment, he is going to be mentally simulated by the new scent, sight and people around him.
That will make him easily distracted and mentally tired.
This will affect his ability to continue with a walk that he can usually complete in an environment that he is familiar with.
So, when you are out with your dog, you want to make sure that he is enjoying the walk. He should not be struggling with the new environment.
Keep a close watch on how he is coping, and you may need to make adjustments to your walking routine, or to the terrain you are walking on.
When walking your dog, avoid busy streets or roads as any sudden noises may frighten him and make him mentally stressed.
What Dogs Can Walk the Longest?
Dog breeds such as Golden Retriever, Dalmatian, Boxer, Border Collie, Samoyed and Siberian Husky are well known for their endurance to walk up to 2 hours or more per day.
So, if you own one of these breeds, you don’t have to worry about the length of the walk. You will be tired from the walk before he does.
Because these are high energy dogs, you would need to plan for at least two walks per day with him along with some other physical activities, such as playing fetch or hide-and-seek in the garden.
These dogs aren’t meant to lounge around the house all day and if he starts to get bored, he might start to get “naughty” and chew on your furniture.
It is also important to know when to feed your dog after a walk. You should ONLY feed him after he has rested for an hour.