Whether dogs need two walks per day is a common question for pet owners. The quick answer is that most dogs benefit from at least two walks per day. However, factors like the dog’s age, breed, health issues, and energy levels can impact how much exercise they need. Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of walking dogs twice daily and how to determine what’s best for your pup.
The Benefits of Walking Dogs Twice Daily
Walking a dog two times per day provides many benefits for both canine and human. For dogs, daily walks provide:
- Exercise and mental stimulation
- Opportunities for socialization
- A chance to explore new sights and smells
- Relief of boredom and excess energy
- Improved leash skills
In addition to meeting a dog’s basic needs, two daily walks provide dog parents with:
- A chance to bond with your dog
- An easy way to ensure your dog gets adequate exercise
- Improved obedience as you practice commands together
- Peace of mind knowing your dog’s needs are met
Overall, most dogs do best with at least two walks per day for both physical and mental welfare. But some may need more or less depending on other factors.
Factors That Impact How Much Walking a Dog Needs
While two walks per day meets many dogs’ needs, the optimal amount varies based on:
Puppies and senior dogs often need less intense exercise than adult dogs. Puppies’ joints are still developing and too much walking on hard surfaces could lead to long term joint issues. Older dogs may suffer from arthritis and other age-related conditions that limit mobility.
Follow your veterinarian’s advice, but general guidelines are:
- Puppies under 6 months – Several 10-15 minute walks
- Dogs 6 months to 1 year – 30 minutes total walking and playtime
- Adult dogs – At least 30-60 minutes walking/activity
- Senior dogs – Shorter, slower paced walks to meet mobility limits
Some breeds have more or less exercise needs based on factors like:
- Size – Larger breeds often need more exercise
- Energy level – High energy breeds like Border Collies require more activity
- Purpose – Hunting breeds need more vigorous exercise to meet their instincts
Herding breeds like Australian Shepherds and sporting breeds such as Retrievers typically require over an hour of intense exercise per day. Lower energy companion breeds like Cavalier King Charles Spaniels may only need 30-45 minutes of walking. Get to know your individual dog’s needs.
Dogs with certain health problems may require tailored exercise routines. For example:
- Overweight dogs – Low impact exercise like swimming to avoid joint strain
- Dogs with heart conditions – Shorter, slower paced walks
- Dogs recovering from surgery – Walks restricted at first then gradually increased
- Dogs with arthritis – Soft surfaces and joint supplements to manage pain
Consult your vet to develop an exercise plan if your dog has any ongoing health issues.
While a Greyhound may be satisfied with a 30 minute stroll, your hyperactive Jack Russell will need much more daily activity. Know your individual dog’s temperament and needs. Signs your dog needs more exercise include:
- Excess energy on walks even after long distances
- Destructive chewing or other problem behaviors
- Pacing, whining, or restlessness
- Poor leash manners from built up energy
High energy dogs may need well over an hour of intense fetch, running, or training in addition to two long walks. Monitor your dog’s behavior to find their optimal activity level.
Tips for Making the Most of Your Dog’s Daily Walks
To ensure your dog’s two daily walks meet their physical and mental needs, follow these tips:
Choose a Good Route
- Find a safe location with minimal traffic and safe terrain for your dog. Parks, nature trails, and residential neighborhoods often work well.
- Avoid walking on hot asphalt in warm months which could burn paws.
- Check the route for hazards like broken glass debris, toxic plants, or hidden dangers like cliffs eroding from rain.
- Rotate between a few different walking routes to add variety.
Practice Training Commands
- Work on obedience skills like heel, sit, stay, and come during walks.
- Bring treats to reward successful responses to commands. Use a pocket or treat pouch to keep hands free.
- Training provides mental stimulation too!
- Bring a ball or favorite toy to engage your dog’s natural retrieve instincts.
- Take turns: walk for several minutes, then stop to play fetch, then walk again.
- Find a park or open space suitable and safe for playing off-leash fetch if possible.
Monitor Sniff Breaks
- Allowing your dog to stop and sniff interesting spots provides mental enrichment. But don’t let them dictate the entire walk.
- Use the “start-stop” method. First choose a specific duration for sniffing such as 30 seconds. Give a start cue like “go sniff”, then a stop cue like “let’s go” when time is up to resume walking.
Occasionally Split into Two Sessions
- One longer walk and one shorter walk split up also works. You can take a longer walk in the morning or evening with a shorter potty break midday.
- If your schedule prohibits two walks in a day, consider a dog walker or runner to split up the exercise.
Signs Your Dog Needs More Walking
Notice these signs your canine friend needs more daily walking:
- Dog is still hyper and unruly on leash after usual length walk
- Jumps, pulls on leash, and can’t settle during walks
- Has pent up energy at home in between walks
- Destructive chewing, digging, excessive barking
- Pacing, whining, following you constantly
- Getting into garbage cans or other mischief
Poor Leash Manners
- Lunging towards cars, bikes, pedestrians, or other dogs
- Pulling excessively on leash
- Difficulty paying attention and frequent stopping
Try extending your walk duration and distance. But also consider your dog may need mental stimulation through training, food puzzles, and socialization too.
Risks of Not Walking Your Dog Enough
Dogs who do not get adequate exercise are at risk for:
- Lack of physical activity leads to weight gain
- Excess weight stresses joints and negatively impacts health
- Increases risk for diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and more
Boredom and Frustration
- Under-exercised dogs are often destructive and hyperactive
- More prone to developing anxiety, depression, and compulsive disorders
- Increased barking, chewing, digging, and other problem behaviors
Poor Muscle Tone and Conditioning
- Deconditioning and muscle loss without regular activity
- Reduced stamina and inability to handle longer walks or play
- Higher injury risk from reduced joint support
Lack of exercise impacts a dog’s physical health and quality of life. Ensure your dog moves regularly to avoid obesity and related issues.
Tips for Walking Dogs in Bad Weather
Don’t use weather as an excuse to skip walking! With preparation, you can walk dogs in rain, snow, heat, and cold:
- Invest in waterproof dog coat and dog boots
- Select a route with tree cover or bring an umbrella
- Avoid deep puddles that could lead to ear infections
- Dry your dog with a towel upon returning home
- Limit time outdoors during heavy precipitation to avoid ice buildup on paws
- Rinse and dry paws after walks to prevent irritation from salt or chemical deicers
- Dress your dog in a warm dog coat and booties
- Watch for signs of cold weather injuries like limping or whining
Hot Weather Walks
- Walk very early or late in the day when temperatures are cooler
- Ensure your dog always has access to fresh water
- Walk on grass or dirt trails to avoid hot pavement damaging paws
- Limit exercise time on high humidity days when dogs cannot effectively stay cool
Monitor your dog closely in all weather extremes. When in doubt, skip walks in treacherous conditions that could harm your dog.
Choosing a Dog if You Cannot Walk Frequently
If you truly cannot commit to walking a dog twice daily, consider:
- Adopting a lower energy adult dog instead of a rambunctious puppy
- Choosing a small breed that needs less exercise like a Bichon Frise or Pug
- Hiring a dog walker to fill in on days you cannot walk
- Providing mental exercise like food puzzles and training on non-walk days
- Using doggy daycare 2-3 days per week for play time and socialization
While walking is important for dogs, you can absolutely find lower maintenance breeds and other ways to exercise your dog if you cannot walk frequently. Just be sure to meet their enrichment and potty needs.
The Bottom Line
Most dogs benefit greatly from two walks per day. This provides physical and mental exercise, socialization, training opportunities, and important bonding time with their human. But dog walking needs vary based on breed, age, health status, and energy level.
Monitor your individual dog’s behavior and needs. Some high energy dogs require over an hour of intense exercise like running or swimming. Lower energy or senior dogs may only need two shorter 15 minute walks. Work with your veterinarian for dogs with health issues impacting mobility.
Walks are about more than just physical exercise. They stimulate your dog mentally, satisfy their instincts, and allow stress relief. Do your best to stick to a routine of two daily walks. If that’s truly not possible, look into other exercise and enrichment options. Going on just one good long walk is better than no walk at all!