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How much exercise does my dog need?

Updated: Feb 26, 2022

Exercise is a must for all dogs. It helps keep them in shape but is also really important for their mental health. A recent poll in the UK showed that thousands of dogs are never walked at all, which really makes us sad. It is SO important that dogs get a daily walk to keep them happy and healthy.

A Labrador standing on a forest path with a look of anticipation for a big adventure

Many of us feel guilty when we're too busy to take our dogs out for a walk. But what does science say about how much exercise your dog really needs? It may not be as much as you think!

A small study in Sweden measured the activity levels of 12 dogs, and the results might surprise you! Here are the numbers of steps walked per day for these dogs.

  • As low as 4,500 steps a day

  • 16,000 steps per day on average

  • 40,000 on the high end, just over 5 miles!

WHAT? 16k steps is SO MUCH? I walk my dog EVERY DAY and that seems like a lot to me, how can 16k steps be average?

First of all… Don’t Panic! Remember that your dog only has little legs and paws, and they actually take at least twice as many steps as you to cover the same distance.

I walk my dog twice a day, plus play fetch in the garden. My dog seems to enjoy walking and gets excited when she sees me grab her lead, maybe she actually needs that much exercise!

It may seem like I'm nitpicking but I think that it's important to question everything you read, especially when it comes to your dog. I'm not saying that the average for a Golden Retriever is 16,000 steps a day but what if your dog was a bloodhound which typically has much shorter legs? That could be as little as 5k steps per day.

I'm going to stop preaching now and get back to the facts, (I promise).

Your dog's breed is one of the main factors in how much exercise your pup needs. The average Golden Retriever weighs about 28kg so if you adjust 16k steps for size you get roughly 2200 steps per kilogram of weight.

Now just remember that these are averages based on statistics from all kinds of people with different lifestyles - it doesn't mean that YOU have to walk 16k steps every day (although it would look great on your activity tracker!). It just means that, depending on what type/age/sex/breed of dog you have, they need to move around a lot, to get their step count in. This of course involves all of the fetch they play, running around the garden and zoomies around the house.