How much exercise does my dog need calculator

Energy Level

The breed of your dog and their energy levels is the first thing to consider. Select the category your dog fits into from below. This guide to exercise needs is for fully mature adult dogs only. The exercise needs of a puppy are different as they are still growing and developing. To learn more about this read “How to exercise a puppy”.


The next factor to consider is your dogs’ weight. If your dog is a normal healthy weight then follow the recommended amount of exercise. If your dog is overweight or even obese reduce this by around 20–30% or look for low weight-bearing exercise such as swimming. It may seem strange to recommend doing less exercise for an overweight dog, but this is to reduce the stress on their joints and tendons and heart and lungs due to the extra body weight. Exercise in itself has little effect on helping a dog to lose weight (around only 10%). The main contributing factor in a weight loss program is actually to reduce calories consumed. Logically it takes a lot of activity to burn relatively few calories so it is more efficient to consume fewer calories.


The third factor to take into consideration for your dog’s daily exercise needs is age. From around the age of 7 or 8 dogs are considered to be senior dogs.
This age can vary from breed to breed depending on the average lifespan expectancy for that breed. For a senior dog reduce the daily recommended amount by 20–30%. It is important for an older dog to still stay active to keep the muscles and joints strong but not to overdo it. It is about finding the right balance. Read “How to exercise a senior old dog” for more on this.


The final factor is any health issues the dog may have such as arthritis, hip dysplasia or an illness. In this case, it is best to discuss your dogs exercise needs with guidance from a vet. You may be interested in “How to exercise an arthritic dog” or “How to exercise a dog with hip dysplasia

Over exercised dog symptoms

It is important to provide your dog with adequate exercise to keep them healthy, to prevent behavior problems caused by boredom and pent-up energy and make them feel happy. This not only includes physical exercise but should include mental enrichment. Mental stimulation can use as much energy as physical activity. To learn more about providing mental stimulation read “Mental enrichment and mind stimulation” and also “Top 7 Puzzle Toys for dogs

Symptoms of over exercise can include

Excessive panting during or after the exertion

Dog exercise needs by breed

Below are the various categories of breed and dog energy levels. This is for adult dogs only and should not be used in the case of puppies. Take the recommendation of quantity and type of exercise relative to your dog and make any adjustments to take into account age for senior dogs and weight factors for overweight dogs. Remember, this is only a guideline and every dog is an individual. Your individual dog’s needs may be more or less than another dog of the same breed. If you have a mixed breed they will have similar exercise needs to the breeds they are mixed with.

What dogs need the most exercise

The exercise needs of a dog are often based on what they were bred to do. Working, hunting or herding breeds are among the most high energy breeds and often very intelligent meaning they require as much mental enrichment as they do physical exercise.
For a guide to ways to exercise the more high energy breeds read “How to tire a high energy hyper dog

Sporting Breeds

The sporting breeds include pointers, retrievers, setters, and spaniels. These dogs were

Working Breeds

The working breeds include Siberian Huskies, Rottweilers, Boxers, Doberman, and Bullmastiffs These breeds have their origins as farm and drafting dogs so are excellent at pulling weight such as carts or sleds. Read “Muscle building and strength exercise for dogs” for exercise ideas for these breeds.
These breeds also excel at longer, steady activities such as hiking rather than high-intensity short burst activities or running.

Herding Breeds

Herding breeds include sheepdogs, collies, and shepherds. This group also includes the Standard Poodle. These dogs need to be mentally and physically challenged due to their high intelligence and energy. The best type of exercise for these breeds include high-intensity activities that burn energy fast such as running or games such as fetch or frisbee or dog sports such as agility. They also need to be mentally challenged so scenting games and puzzle toys are highly recommended.
Read “How much exercise does a German Shepherd need” and “How much exercise does a Border Collie need” for exercise ideas for these type of dogs.

Terrier Breeds

Scent Hounds

This group includes the beagle and bloodhounds. These breeds have similar exercise needs of the sporting breeds. They are also very driven by their nose so any scenting type activity will help to burn some energy while giving them much needed mental stimulation. An exception is the Basset Hound which would be considered more of a medium energy breed. For games that the scent hounds would love read “12 Scenting and Nose tracking games

What dogs need little exercise

Brachycephalic dogs are dogs with a squashed face like a Bulldog (French and English)

Medium energy dog breeds

This group includes dogs from the Chihuahua to the Bichon or Shih Tzu. They generally have only moderate exercise needs with a daily walk of 20 to 30 minutes and some free play being sufficient. The exception would be the toy and miniature poodle which are more active and also intelligent, so require a little more physical activity and plenty of mental stimulation. Read “How much exercise does a Cockapoo need” for a similar breed with needs matching a small Poodle.

Sight Hounds

The sighthounds include the Greyhound, Whippet and the Wolfhound. Read “How much exercise does a Whippet need” to learn more. These hounds have lower exercise requirements than scent hounds. Even though the greyhound is a racing dog they are bred for sprinting and only need moderate exercise. A moderate pace walk of around 30 minutes a day and maybe some short sprints is enough to keep them healthy.

Giant Breeds

In Summary — How much exercise do dogs need

If your particular dog’s breed is not listed or you have a mixed breed, it is best to base your dog’s exercise needs on which group they are the most similar with, energy-wise. For example, a Dalmatian would be similar to a sporting breed.

Suggested ways to provide how much exercise a dog needs everyday

The daily walk

The daily walk is essential for all dogs not only to release some pent-up energy. The walk allows your dog to stimulate the mind with the sights, sounds and smells they come across. A dog can not spend their entire life without living their own property. This can be psychologically stressful for a dog.

Flirt Pole

A Flirt pole is like a giant cat tickler for dogs. It has a long handle with a bungy type rope with a lure or toy attached to the end. You simply move the lure along the ground around in circles or in different directions as your dog chases it. This activity is ideal for a high energy dog as it works the whole body and strengthens their muscles. Be sure they have a good “leave it” command and don’t allow them to destroy the toy. It is important that this be a controlled exercise.


Playing Fetch with your dog is another fantastic way to burn pent-up energy. Most dogs love a good game of fetch and can play this for hundreds of throws. A great alternative is to use an Automatic Ball Launcher so your dog can play Fetch by themselves. For more information check out “Automatic Ball Launchers for Dogs

Jolly Ball

A Jolly Ball is a nearly indestructible ball for dogs that they push and chase around. They come in a variety of sizes, styles and are also available with a handle or rope attached for tug of war. This is particularly suited to herding dogs as this is a great activity that caters to their natural herding instincts. Also a very popular game for breeds such as Pitbulls and Staffies. Check out the video to see what great exercise and fun they are for dogs.

Frisbee Toss

Most dogs can chase and catch a ball. But a Frisbee requires a little bit more skill, coordination, and timing. Many dogs look spectacular playing this due to their agility. Roll the Frisbee on the ground towards your dog. They will instinctually want to grab it in his mouth. Once you’ve accomplished this, try tossing it at a very low level first to your dog. If you feel like your dog is ready to go to the next level, toss the disc a little higher and further. Great energy burner and you may be amazed at your dog’s agility and acrobatic skill.

Weighted Pulling

Weight pulling is an actual dog sport but you can incorporate this type of exercise into your dog’s muscle building and strength programme. The most important thing is that you use a proper weight pulling harness. These are designed to distribute the weight evenly over your dog’s body.

Backyard agility

Set up an agility or obstacle course in your backyard. You can use items you have around the home, build your own agility or you can get reasonably priced agility sets on Amazon. You can include tasks such as the weave, hurdle jumps, tunnels or jumping through hoops or a platform to jump on and stay.

Stair Walking

A good energy burner if you have stairs in your home. Start at the bottom of the stairs and have your dog “stay”. Throw the ball to the top of the stairs and then say, “Go!” Let your dog dash up the stairs as fast as they can. Have them return down the stairs at a slower pace to avoid injury.

Running, biking or skating with your dog

The faster your dog is moving the more energy they will release. Try running, biking or skating with your dog to really get them moving. If your dog has good levels of stamina and can go for long distances, they can make great running partners. Just be sure to build up the distance and intensity of the activity over time to prevent causing injury to your dog. Read “Running with your dog” for more on this.


Tug of War

A firm favorite of all strong dogs. Make them crouch and pull back to use extra energy. Ensure that this is a controlled game and they release when you want them to. Also, a great way to build muscle and strength.

Spring Pole

A spring pole is simply a spring connected to a rope that hangs from a tree branch or beam with a lure or toy attached to the end. This allows your dog to play tug of war with him or herself even if you are not there. Popular with a lot of dogs that love a good game of tug of war.

Dog toys that move on their own

There are many dog toys available that shake, rattle, roll and move about on their own. This activity would be best as a supervised and control game as a dog like the German Shepherd could destroy these type of toys. See “Dog toys that move on their own” to learn more.

Self Playing Dog Toys

There are a variety of dog toys that your dog can use to play by themselves. These are great for times when your dog is home alone, you don’t have the time or you are otherwise occupied. This way your dog can still get some physical activity and mental stimulation without your direct involvement. See “Self Playing Dog Toys” for some ideas.

Play with other dogs

Provide the opportunity for your dog to play and socialize with other dogs. This is not only great to burn energy and stimulate their mind, but teaches them important social skills. Not all dogs are dog-friendly, so ensure yours is to prevent the possibility of fighting.

Dog sports

There are many dog sports that your dog would enjoy including agility or fly ball. Consider enrolling your dog in a local club. You can enter as a serious competitor or simply for fun.

Provide a digging area or pit

Many dogs love to dig. If you have problems with your dog digging where they shouldn’t, giving them activities that cater to their natural digging instinct will help to eliminate the problem behavior. Provide an area or digging box for them so they can dig to their heart’s content. Just be aware that if the weather is warm and you use sand, it may get hot. You can wet it down with the hose if it is. See “Dog Toys for Diggers” for more ideas on catering to a dog’s natural digging instinct.

Mental stimulation and enrichment.

All dogs need an outlet for their minds. If they are not provided the opportunity to challenge their minds they will come up with their own ways to achieve this. This usually manifests itself in bad behavior such as excessive barking, digging, escaping and other destructive behaviors. Read “Mental stimulation and mind enrichment for dogs” to learn about the 6 types or categories of mind stimulation a mental enrichment and some great ideas to provide this.


Teaching new commands and tricks is also excellent to provide mental enrichment. A popular game that involves learning is to teach them the names of their toys. Dogs can learn hundreds of words and names.

Puzzle Toys

Scenting and nose games

Dogs have a keen and powerful nose. Playing scenting and nose games helps to provide mental stimulation. Read “12 Scenting and nose games for dogs” for some ideas.

Chew Toys

Provide your dog with good strong chew toys. Chewing is a great way to occupy them. In addition, chewing releases endorphins and helps to relax a dog. Many dogs hold stress in the jaw.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store