Dogs need a one hour walk everyday, or do they?

It is often said that dogs need a one hour walk every day.  What I don’t like about this piece of advice is that it couldn’t possibly suit every dog and there is certainly no evidence to even suggest that it is true.  Somebody just made it up and it sounded right so it got passed on and on and on and on.

Many dogs, mine included, love the great outdoors. They love the stimulation of going outside and they love to meet up with other dogs and generally have a good time. However, for some dogs it’s not such a great thrill. They might, for various reasons, hate the great outdoors and be afraid or anxious.  Should these dogs be walked for an hour every day?

Enjoying the great outdoors

What is a one hour walk? Is it walking roadside for 60 minutes, not stopping, not interacting, not letting the dog sniff or take in his environment, yanking him back into a steady pace each time he stops?  Or, is it 60 minutes off lead, running, playing, fetching and training?   Or, would a slow walk around the block, allowing the dog to stop and sniff at whatever takes his fancy be more appropriate?

Maybe it depends on the individual dog, what he enjoys, what he needs or what he likes. What is for sure is that dogs, like us, need to feel safe. They also need mental stimulation and something to live for.  Are those needs always being met by a one hour daily walk?

How about when it’s really hot? How about when it’s too cold or stormy?  How about if the human isn’t up to a one hour walk each day?  Doesn’t it make sense to incorporate other forms of mental and physical enrichment into their lives?  Doesn’t it make sense to provide other outlets rather than depend on the one hour walk which in most cases isn’t going to happen every day and might not even be the most appropriate thing for the individual dog.

Some of Mr B’s enrichment feeding toys

Play with your dogs, interact with them, feed them from food enrichment toys, hide food around the house and garden for a treasure hunt, do a little training whilst the kettle boils, teach them to fetch a favourite toy, then start hiding it for them to go and find.  There are many ways of keeping dogs happy and healthy other than, or in addition to, their daily walk in the park. Make dogs part of your everyday life. They are not dogs for only an hour per day, they are dogs 24/7.  Dogs can benefit greatly from daily outings, but these should be adding to the dog’s quality of life rather than reducing it due to anxiety or being yanked around like a yo-yo.  Enjoy your dogs and let them enjoy life.

Shay Kelly is the author of Dog training and behavor: a guide for everyone and Canine Enrichment: the book your dog needs you to read

3 thoughts on “Dogs need a one hour walk everyday, or do they?

  1. When I had my first dog I had a friend who swore by a 2hr walk every day for her dog, who it must be admitted looked as if she didn’t agree some days. When I got my first gsd I read all the books and it was said a gsd needs 5 miles a day to keep fit and somewhere between these 2 goals is what I have always tried to stick to. Luckily all my dogs have enjoyed my love of the great outdoors and we’ve had camping adventures,done agility and a bit of scentwork. I must admit though it’s good not to feel guilty anymore on the days that life gets in the way and weare restricted to home entertainment. Thankyou for all the ideas for keeping us entertained on days like that.

  2. I totally agree we have large breed dogs who will walk for 40 mins ..
    sometimes we are out longer but not much but they get too sniff and watch the world go by
    They all prefer moorland and less busy places

    If it’s local they are jumpy and anxious if it’s too busy
    So get a quick walk around the block
    If it’s too hot no walk An early quick walk
    If it’s cold and windy short walk
    If it’s raining with chances of heavy rain no walk as two suffered recently with limp tail from the heavy rain

    Two are reactive so I try too keep their aniexty levels low too not steas them out too much
    Two like meeting other dogs and people so sometimes have a very different walk from the others socialising and meeting and greeting generally for An hour too hour and half
    Not for long distances either
    This is a very good article and not
    All dogs need an hour
    Brain training and company suits ours ..
    They are
    Walked for social aspects
    and exploring but it’s not all they need they love cuddles and comforts too

  3. I’ve never heard this rule, and yes its absurd to say all dogs need an hours walk each day! We’be always had retired greyhounds, they need a lot less than this. Were told approx 20 mins twice daily but in reality they like less than this lol! Whereas for a Border Collie probably an hours walk isnt enough.
    Each breed of dog is different , and within that each dog is different.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s