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How long can a dog walk?
The answer to that question isn’t super obvious. In fact, it depends!
This probably isn’t the most satisfying answer but the thing is, every dog is different. There are so many different breeds, individual fitness levels and personalities that it’s impossible to give a one-size-fits-all reply.
For instance, my Mini Poodle Baloo is a pretty small dog and when you see him, you’d probably think he’s a cute lap dog. However, he has an incredible amount of energy and usually does more rounds in Agility training than all the other—far bigger—dogs!
So, let me give you an average. And then we’ll look at the different factors that might impact how long your dog could walk.
Here’s the quick answer: the average dog can easily walk about 2.5 hours (or 10 miles) per day without any special training. That’s for the average, medium-sized, medium-aged dog on normal, flat terrain.
How Long Can a Dog Walk?
Going for walks is one of the pillars of being a dog parent. Before you get your dog, you might be daydreaming about all the places in your neighborhood you’re going to explore together.
But it’s also important to make sure that you are walking your dog the right amount. Getting too little exercise can result in boredom, which means your dog will act out more.
At the same time, over exercising your dog can also be harmful to your pup. That’s why it’s important to make sure that your dog is getting a healthy amount of exercise.
So how do you know how long a dog can walk? As mentioned before, the average is 2.5 hours per day. Now, let’s look at the different factors that can change this number.
One of the biggest factors is your dog’s age.
If your dog is still a puppy, then he’s not going to be able to walk as far as an adult dog. In fact, if your puppy hasn’t been vaccinated yet, then he shouldn’t be walking at all!
Talk to your vet about your puppy vaccination schedule to determine when your puppy should be getting his vaccines.
As a rule of thumb, a puppy should only walk for 5 minutes per month of age, up to 3 times per day. So, at 3 months old, your puppy shouldn’t walk more than 15 minutes per walk.
Once your dog is an adult, at around 1 or 2 years old, he’ll be able to walk farther. But as your dog ages and becomes a senior, his limbs may not work as well anymore and he won’t have the same kind of energy. At that point, you’ll have to walk your dog less.
Another major component as to how long you should walk your dog is his breed. Purebred dogs are bred to have specific traits.
For example, a Golden Retriever was bred to be energetic, as they needed to run after downed waterfowl shot by hunters. These dogs naturally have more energy, and will be able to walk longer. The same is true for Poodles and herding dogs, such as Border Collies.
On the other hand, a dog like a Pekingese was bred to be a lapdog. They prefer relaxing with their humans, and won’t enjoy being taken for long walks.
If you’re looking for a breed that can come with you on all your adventures, take a look at the 18 best dogs for hiking and camping.
This ultimately comes down to each individual dog. Even dogs of the same breed can have very different stamina levels.
Your dog’s health also is a major factor. A dog that’s overweight will have lower stamina. Likewise, a dog that has a chronic health condition may also not be able to walk very far.
Keep an eye on your dog while you’re out walking to help determine his stamina level. If your dog is still walking happily, then you’re probably good to keep going. If, on the other hand, he’s slowing down or panting more, then he’s pretty tired and it’s time to get back home.
Similar to humans, you can also train a dog’s stamina by building it up slowly. To do that, simply add a few minutes to your daily walks every few days.
Size does matter! It only makes sense that a small dog with short legs won’t be able to walk as far as a bigger dog.
Dogs like Baloo are the exception to the rule. He’s a pretty small Mini Poodle but can easily keep up on multi-day hikes. But that’s also due to us building up his stamina.
On the other end of the size chart, giant dogs like Great Danes won’t be able to go on super long hikes either. Their joints simply aren’t build for that.
On the other hand, a medium to large dog with a wide gait will likely need to go for longer walks, even if his energy levels are relatively low.
Type of Trail
If you’re planning on just walking your dog around the neighborhood on your sidewalk, then he’ll probably be able to walk for quite a while.
Sidewalks are easy to walk on, as is any kind of flat path.
But if you’re planning on hiking in the mountains, then that provides a more difficult trail for your dog. And just like a mountain hike on a rocky trail is more challenging for you, it’ll be more challenging for your dog too!
Remember to keep the type of trail that you’re walking your dog on in mind. Remember to also pay attention to the temperature. Your dog will need to slow down in hot weather.
Can You Walk a Dog Too Much?
Yes, you can over exercise your dog.
If you’re taking your dog on walks that are too long or too challenging for him, then you run the risk of your dog becoming sick or injured.
There are several signs you should look out for while you’re walking your dog. These signs will tell you whether or not your dog needs to head back home.
If your dog is panting excessively or if his paw pads are looking too worn, then it’s time to peel back on the length and frequency of your walks.
If you’re walking on a hot day, pay attention to any sign your dog might be experiencing heat stroke. This includes drooling, red gums, vomiting or diarrhea, or even collapsing. If your dog is experiencing heat stroke, it’s crucial to get to your vet right away.
Check out these 18 signs your dog is exhausted to better understand if you might be over exercising your pup.
How Long Should I Walk My Dog Per Day?
Now that you know what factors go into how long a dog can walk, let’s get into how long you should walk your dog.
The Bare Minimum
You should take your dog for at least one walk a day so he can stretch his legs and get his heart rate up.
In general, your dog should be getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. Of course, highly energetic dogs might need more than that.
Baloo, for instance, would go bonkers if he only got one 30-minute walk per day. He needs at least 1.5 hours plus Agility training once or twice per week.
Dogs with lower energy levels or who are brachycephalic might need a little less.
Remember to pay attention to your dog for any signs that he’s getting too tired while you’re walking.
How Often Should I Walk My Dog Per Day?
Length is one thing, but frequency is another!
The important thing is that your dog is getting his around 30-minute minimum amount of exercise each day. So you can opt to go for one 30- or 45-minute walk. But it might work better for you to split this up into several shorter walks each day.
I would highly recommend doing at least 2 or 3 20-minute or longer walks as this is a good amount for most dogs. If walking is not your thing and you prefer to stick to the bare minimum outdoors, make sure to balance it out with plenty of mental stimulation.
Ultimately it just comes down to your schedule. If you’re only able to do one large walk at the end of the day, then that’s alright. But if breaking it up into several shorter walks is what works for you, then go for that!
Speaking of schedule, make sure to download my free puppy schedule planner to find a daily routine that works for you and your dog.
What Are Alternatives to Walks?
Some dogs are not healthy enough to go for a walk every single day. And sometimes our schedules just don’t allow for us to get out and about.
In these cases, it’s totally okay to find alternatives to a walk. And there are lots of great ones! Just make sure to mix it up a bit.
A little backyard playtime like fetch or tug-of-war is a great way to burn some of your dog’s energy. If that’s not going to work, then something low impact like rolling a Kong toy stuffed with treats could also work.
One thing you should also make sure of, even if you are taking your dog on walks, is to work your dog’s brain. If you’re not sure where to start with that, here are 10 brain games for dogs to play at home.
Dog walking FAQ
How Far Can a Small Dog Walk?
A small dog may not be able to walk as far as a large dog. But you might be surprised at how far some small dogs can go!
The main thing to consider is your dog’s breed. Some dogs like Jack Russel Terriers and Poodles were bred specifically to have lots of energy. Despite their size, they might even be able to go farther than some large breeds!
Here are 9 tips for long-distance walks or hikes with a small dog.
How Long Can a Puppy Walk?
As mentioned earlier, puppies shouldn’t be going for walks until they are vaccinated. This is for the health and safety of your puppy, as well as all the other dogs living nearby!
Once your little guy has been vaccinated, then you can walk your pup for about 5 minutes per month of age. You can slowly increase the length and frequency the older he gets.
It’s also a good idea to discuss this with your vet if you’re concerned about the amount of exercise your puppy is getting.
Here are 10 things you need to know before hiking with a puppy.
How Long Can a Dog Walk in Snow?
If you live in a snowy area, then there are some things you should do to make sure your dog is safe while you’re walking in the winter.
Walking in snow is more challenging than on flat, dry terrain. So your pup won’t be able to walk the same distance as he would on a spring day.
There isn’t any specific number but an untrained dog will probably be pretty tired after one hour in the snow. But you’ll have to test it out. Again, Baloo can easily come on a full-day hike even in snow.
Also consider your dog’s coat and the temperature. A short-coated dog won’t be able to go far on a super cold wintery day. Consider getting him a jacket (and boots if that’s your thing) to help him feel more comfortable.
Walking your dog is a great way for both of you to get the exercise you need. At the same time, it’s important to make sure he’s not being over exercised, since that could be very bad for his health.
A healthy amount for the average dog is about 1.5 hours per day. Make sure not to go below 30 minutes of exercise. If you want to go for longer than 2.5 hours, make sure to build up his stamina first!
And always remember that as a dog parent, it’s your job to keep your dog safe, happy, and healthy!
Don’t forget to download my free puppy schedule planner to find your perfect daily doggy routine!