Physical activity and exercise support overall health and overall wellbeing. Benefits include healthier heart and lung function, and obesity prevention. Healthy female dogs that are in good condition experience fewer pregnancy complications. They are also more likely to have healthy puppies.
Physical fitness can reduce the body’s reaction to stressors. Doctors often recommend exercise for humans to reduce stress and anxiety. Similarly, there is a relationship between daily exercise and reduced anxiety in dogs.
Housing can be set up to increase physical activity through:
- indoor/outdoor areas
- social housing
- opportunities for interactive play
- kennels with platforms, stairs, and multiple levels
Play yards can provide dogs with opportunities to run and allow small groups of dogs to interact with one another and their caretakers. Caretakers can also increase exercise through play or leash walking.
The optimal amount and type of exercise for dogs depends on several things including:
- general health
All dogs need daily exercise, but some individuals need more frequent exercise.
Develop an exercise program that will be safe and promote wellbeing in your dogs. First consult your veterinarian on the appropriate exercise intensity and duration. Ask for examples of specific activities for each dog. Ensure that there is enough space and resources for each dog such as shelter, shade, and water. Supervise group activities and set up stable social groups of dogs. Exercise should be fun, so never force a dog to take part.
Exercise for dogs should have a purpose, with a focus on physical fitness.
Silverman, M.M. & Deuster, P.A. (2014). Biological mechanisms underlying the role of physical fitness in health and resilience. Interface Focus, 4, 20140040.
A recent study found that a 25-minute walk and human contact improved shelter dog welfare. Dogs had reduced stress hormone levels, and did better on a behavior test.
Menor-Campo, D.J., Molleda-Carbonell, J. M. & Lopez-Rodrigues, R. (2011). Effects of exercise and human contact on animal welfare in a dog shelter. Veterinary Record, 169, 388-388.
Bare Bones – If you only have a few minutes for the basics
SNACKS – If you want to learn more
Promoting the Welfare of Kenneled Dogs: Space Allocations and Exercise - CRONEY RESEARCH GROUP
Why Exercise Before or After a Meal Can Be Really Bad for Your Dog
Exercising With Your Dog 101
Fit Facts on Exercise and Dogs
Healthy Exercise for Dogs
How Much Exercise Does a Dog Need Every Day?
Kibble – If you want to take a deep dive into the science
Changes in Behaviour and Voluntary Physical Activity Exhibited by Sled Dogs Throughout Incremental Exercise Conditioning and Intermittent Rest Days - CRONEY RESEARCH GROUP
The Effects of Kennel Size and Exercise on the Behaviour and Stress Physiology of Individually-Housed Greyhounds
Early Life Experiences and Exercise Associate With Canine Anxieties
Identifying Environmental and Management Factors That May Be Associated With the Quality of Life of Kennelled Dogs (Canis familiaris)
Variation in Activity Levels Amongst Dogs of Different Breeds: Results of a Large Online Survey of Dog Owners From the UK
Additional Resources to Support Dogs in Other Environments
SHELTER & RESCUE
Dogs living in shelter or rescue kennels face challenges specific to their living environments. Practical applications for their management and care may also differ. Additional resources for their caretakers, including those caring for dogs in home-based foster systems or rescue networks, are provided to support efforts to improve, maintain, and protect their welfare.
Dogs living in homes as family pets face challenges specific to their living environments. Practical applications for their management and care may also differ. Additional resources for their caretakers, support the human-animal bond, keep pets in their homes, and improve, maintain, and protect their welfare.
Research & Teaching
Dogs living in research or teaching kennels face challenges specific to their living environments. Practical applications for their management and care may also differ. Additional resources for their caretakers are provided to support efforts to improve, maintain, and protect their welfare.
Applications for Research & Teaching
Applications for Pet Families
How Much Exercise Does Your Dog Need?
Benjamin, C.L. (2020). How Much Exercise Does Your Dog Need? Fear Free Happy Homes. Retrieved June 22, 2023, from https://www.fearfreehappyhomes.com/how-much-exercise-does-your-dog-need-2/.
The Importance of Exercise for Your Puppy
Hill's Pet Nutrition (2022). The Importance of Exercise for Your Puppy. Retrieved June 22, 2023, from https://www.hillspet.com/dog-care/play-exercise/puppy-exercise?lightboxfired=true#.
Be Dog Smart: Fitness and Exercise
Pet Leadership Council. (2019) Fitness and exercise. American Pet Products Association. https://bedogsmart.org. Used with permission.
Safe Exercise for Dogs With Limits
Lombardi, L. (2021). Safe exercise for dogs with limits. Fear Free Happy Homes.
Applications for Shelter & Rescue
Is There a Recommendation for the Maximum Amount of Time a Dog Should be Kenneled?
Hefferan, S. (2022). Is there a recommendation for the maximum amount of time a dog should be kenneled? Koret Shelter Medicine Program: UC Davis. Retrieved June 22, 2023, from https://www.sheltermedicine.com/library/resources/?r=playgroups-should-we-be-worried-about-infectious-disease.
Playgroups: Should We be Worried About Infectious Disease?
Koret Shelter Medicine Program (2018). Playgroups: Should we be worried about infectious disease? UC Davis. Retrieved June 22, 2023, from https://www.sheltermedicine.com/library/resources/?r=playgroups-should-we-be-worried-about-infectious-disease.
Effects of Exercise and Human Contact on Animal Welfare in a Dog Shelter
Menor-Campos, D.J., Molleda-Carbonell, J.M., and López-Rodriguez, R. (2011). Effects of exercise and human contact on animal welfare in a dog shelter.
The Effects of Exercise and Calm Interactions on In-Kennel Behavior of Shelter Dogs
Protopopova, A., Hauser, H., Goldman, K.J., Wynne, C.D.L., (2018). The effects of exercise and calm interactions on in-kennel behavior of shelter dogs. Behavioural Processes, 146, 54-60. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.beproc.2017.11.013.
Kennel Enrichment: Exercise and Socialization of Dogs
Coppinger, R., Zuccotti, J.(1999). Kennel enrichment: exercise and socialization of dogs. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 2(4), 281-96. doi: 10.1207/s15327604jaws0204_3. PMID: 16363933.