Dog Activities and Fun

Making sure your dog gets enough exercise is a crucial part of being a good pet parent. If you’re online searching for answers to questions about how much activity and exercise your dog needs, we recommend checking in with your veterinarian. Not everything you read online is accurate, and your dog’s vet is always the best source of factual information and appropriate healthcare advice.

Here at GeniusVets, we decided to send some of the most frequently asked questions about dog activities and fun to licensed veterinarians throughout the United States and compile their answers to give you information you can trust. The responses below come directly from veterinarians, but we still encourage you to contact your vet regarding your dog’s specific needs. If you don’t have a vet, find one near you using the GeniusVets Directory!

How much activity does my dog need for optimal health?

Your dog’s activity needs vary depending on their life stage and other factors. Generally, dogs need daily exercise to remain healthy and happy. In addition to preventing weight gain, exercise keeps your dog’s brain stimulated and wards off boredom.

How does the ideal activity level for a dog change based on age or breed?

Age plays a significant role in a dog’s activity needs. Puppies are still growing and maturing, and too much exercise can injure their grown plates. As adults, dogs are at the prime of their lives and often have intense exercise needs. Then, as they get older, dogs begin slowing down, and their exercise needs taper off. Health problems can also limit physical activity in older dogs.

Small breeds are often more energetic than large-breed dogs. Even if your canine companion is more of a lap dog, they’ll likely have bursts of energy throughout the day. Brachycephalic breeds that don’t breathe well — like pugs and French bulldogs — are energetic, but you must be careful about taking them out on hot summer days. Conversely, you need to consider the need to still keep your dog active during the cold weather months. And short-legged breeds might have a hard time keeping up if you take them for a run. Various factors impact your dog’s exercise needs and their ability to participate in certain activities. Talking to your veterinarian is the best way to learn what’s suitable for your canine companion in terms of activity and exercise.

What health problems can arise in dogs that don't get enough activity?

Obesity is a common problem among dogs who don’t get enough exercise.

Inactivity in dogs can also cause other health problems, including:

  • Decreased agility
  • Poor joint mobility
  • Muscle problems


How does a dog's activity level affect their behavior?

Dogs who remain active aren’t as susceptible to boredom. When they don’t have a healthy outlet for their energy, dogs often develop behavioral problems, like chewing and destroying your property. This is especially true for active and working breeds. Like people, dogs need to be active and get plenty of exercise, so they don’t get bored. If your dog tears up the house while you are at work, finding ways to increase their daily activity could be the solution.

What are some fun activities I can do with my dog?

There are all sorts of fun activities to do with your dog! You can keep it simple and take them for a walk around the yard, or you can get more creative and come up with fun games and activities. Many dogs love chasing a ball or Frisbee. Or you could take them for a swim. There are also interactive toys that provide mental stimulation to help keep your dog’s brain engaged.

What if my dog is lazy and won't exercise?

Even lazy dogs need exercise. If your dog is lethargic and doesn’t want to get up and move, though, you might have to get creative and come up with incentives. Start exercising in short increments, and always offer up plenty of praise. If your dog doesn’t enjoy running or taking long walks around the neighborhood, get out their favorite toy to engage them in some physical activity. Even if your dog isn’t fond of playing fetch in the backyard, playing inside can help them burn calories and stay active.

If your dog seems excessively lethargic or has significantly decreased energy levels, schedule an appointment with their veterinarian to rule out health problems.

Are there any health issues that might affect my dog's ability to exercise?

dogs who are arthritic or have joint problems may have limited abilities in terms of exercise. Knee and hip injuries can limit physical activity. If your pet has other health issues, such as kidney disease, you might need to limit their daily exercise. Again, your dog’s veterinarian will help you determine how much and what type of exercise your canine companion needs.

For additional information about the right dog activities and fun for your furry friend, contact your veterinarian. If you don’t have a vet yet, GeniusVets is here to help you locate a trusted local veterinarian!