FitDog Friday: How Far Should You Walk Your Dog?

Have you ever wondered how far you should be walking your dog?

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Before Finn, my previous dogs were all super-high-energy animals. I literally could not walk them enough. This led me, when I was looking for Finn, to think very carefully and realistically about my own energy levels. I wanted a dog who would be compatible with me and my lifestyle.

It took me months of research before I settled on a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and although his exercise requirement wasn’t the only consideration, it was a major one.

Once Finn arrived here, I wondered exactly how much exercise was enough for him, so I did a little research. I found out there are a number of things that influence how far a dog should be walking:

Size: Size is a major factor, with smaller dogs, obviously, generally needing less exercise than larger dogs. Finn’s little Cavalier legs are a great match for me – barely topping 5 feet, my legs are pretty short, too!

Age: Exercise requirements tend to decrease with age. If your dog’s exercise tolerance seems to be decreasing, speak to your vet about it, to rule out other health concerns.

Environment: Dogs tolerate longer walks on certain terrains over others. For example, your dog might be able to take a longer woodland hike than a walk on the pavement.

Health: Certain health problems can limit your dog’s endurance, such as heart or lung ailments, arthritis and musculoskeletal issues. If your dog suffers from these types of health problems, his fitness regimen should be approved by a veterinarian.

Weather: Heat and humidity affect your dog’s exercise tolerance, too. Just like people, dogs can suffer from dehydration and heat stroke. Additionally, hot or icy pavement can make walking uncomfortable for your dog.

Once you’ve done your homework, observing your dog is the best way to tell how much is enough. You want your dog to be tired, but not exhausted, when you get home.

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Coralee and Finn

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  1. I think that’s great advice. I’ve noticed that Sampson doesn’t walk quite as long as he used to. If I push him, he’ll go, but normally I keep their walks between 1/2 an hour to 45 minutes and it seems like it’s just enough for them.
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