Exercising your adult dog

Regular exercise will keep your dog fit and healthy. With a balanced diet, it's also a great way to keep them slim.

Different types and breeds of dog need different amounts of exercise. What is appropriate will depend on your dog's current health and fitness too. If in doubt it's best to check with your vet. If you're looking for more info on what kinds of exercise you can do with your dog, check out our page.

Dogs tend to enjoy lots of different exercises, so we have recommended just some that your dog may enjoy.

Remember that with any size of dog you’ll need regular breaks and let them rest if they get tired.

 

Large and giant breeds

Black Labrador holding red ball on rope in its mouth running outside on grassy hill
  • Most large and giant breeds are strong and have good stamina if they're fit.
  • Some larger breeds, such as Greyhounds, need relatively little exercise compared to other large breeds. They use up their energy in short bursts, so letting them have a 20 minute run then going for a walk later should be a good starting point for them.
  • Hiking is a great activity for certain larger breeds that have been bred to do lots of sustained exercise, such as Weimaraners, Huskies and Malamutes. 

Good exercises to do with large and giant breeds

  • Walking – time and distance will depend on your dog’s current health, but walking is great exercise for bigger breeds.
  • Training – extra training will help stop them from getting bored.
  • Playtime – throwing a toy for Retrievers is a great way to keep them active.
  • Scent games – German Shorthaired Pointers, Bloodhounds and Basset Hounds are especially scent-driven so scent games are ideal for them.

 

Medium breeds

Border Collie exercising by ducking and running through a yellow agility tunnel
  • Some working breeds will love the higher demand exercise of running and jogging, so feel free to take your canine pal out with you.
  • Medium dogs can come in many shapes and sizes but should all have good stamina as long as they’re fit and healthy.
  • Medium sized terriers, such as Staffies, may also seem more energetic and benefit from a bit of extra playtime.

Good exercises to do with medium breeds

  • Walking – most medium breeds will love to go on long walks.
  • Running and jogging – some medium breeds will love to go running with you. Make sure you build them up slowly and try to avoid running on hard surfaces too much.
  • Swimming – if your dog is a water lover, swimming is great exercise. Whether you’re lucky enough to live near the sea, or know any local places to take dogs swimming, check our water safety advice before heading out. It’s also great exercise as it doesn’t put too much strain on their joints.
  • Hiking – many medium breeds cope very well hiking. Collies in particular are great to go hiking with.
  • Agility – this is a great way to exercise your dog and give them some mental stimulation.
  • Training – some medium breeds are easy to train because they’re so clever. Collies, Spaniels and other working breeds are likely to be easiest to train, but all medium breeds do well with regular training sessions.
  • Playtime – the type of playtime your dog likes will depend on their breed and personality. Some like to chase and retrieve toys, whereas others prefer tug of war or sniffing out their favourite toy in a scent game.

 

Small breeds

Panting Yorkshire Terrier running fast outside in a grassy field
  • Smaller dog breeds often won’t need as much exercise as larger ones but there are some exceptions to the rule!
  • Most smaller breeds do well with up to an hour of exercise per day, but may need more depending on their stamina. Make sure to keep sessions varied between walking, play and training so they don’t get bored.
  • Poodles and terriers tend to be more active than other small breeds. They might need a few more exercise sessions throughout the day. Terriers will also love brain games that put their clever minds to use.
  • Even toy sized dogs such as Chihuahuas, Yorkshire Terriers or miniature Dachshunds love to get out and about exploring the great outdoors. They’ll need a variety of gentle, interesting daily walks to keep their minds active.

Good exercises to do with small breeds

  • Walking – it’s good for all dogs to go out for regular walks. Your small breed might not be able to go as far as a bigger dog but they still need fresh air.
  • Training – regular training sessions are great to stop small dogs getting bored. Poodles in particular will really benefit from ongoing training.
  • Playtime – all dogs love to play. Remember to look for smaller toys that suit your dog’s size.
  • Puzzles – small dogs will enjoy brain games and puzzles. It keeps their brain active and stops boredom barking.

 

Flat-faced breeds

Black and white French Bulldog lying outside on the grass. To its right is a white cuddly toy.

Dogs bred to have flatter faces, such as Pugs and Bulldogs, will have slightly different exercise requirements. This is because, due to the shape of their faces, they can become out of breath much faster than dogs with longer noses. They can struggle exercising compared to other breeds of a similar size.

  • Flat-faced breeds will need to be kept to short but frequent exercise sessions to avoid over-doing it.
  • Little and often is better. Flat-faced breeds should still go out for walks and play, but this will need to be for shorter periods.
  • Try to avoid exercising flat-faced breeds in the heat as they are particularly prone to overheating.
  • Flat-faced breeds can struggle to keep their heads above water while swimming so this type of exercise is to be avoided and we advise against this.
  • These breeds will benefit from a lot of puzzle toys to keep their minds active.
  • If they aren’t able to get as much exercise, make sure you reduce their daily meals to compensate, as carrying any extra weight will make breathing problems even worse.
  • Always keep an eye on them. If it seems like they are struggling, stop the exercise and let them rest for a while.
  • In extreme cases, your flat-faced pet might really struggle with exercise. If that’s the case, visit your vet to talk about treatment options (including surgery) to help open up their airways to help their breathing.