A black doodle and a black lab lay on a hardwood floor next to each other with paws touching.

Walking the Dog: Exploring Alternative Exercise Options

Yes, I said it. Please keep reading before you throw your leash away!

It’s time to challenge the notion that daily walks are an absolute necessity for dog owners. Yes, you heard it right. Before you dismiss this idea entirely, let’s delve deeper into the concept.

In my case, Tzila, my furry companion, doesn’t get daily walks, especially during the winter months. Harsh weather conditions and icy surfaces pose significant risks for both of us. Slippery surfaces can lead to accidents, causing potential harm. However, limited outdoor activity doesn’t mean neglecting exercise altogether.

Dispelling the Myth: Daily Walks Aren’t Essential

The belief that dogs must be walked every single day is a misconception. Dogs require more than just physical activity; they crave mental stimulation and quality time with their owners. Think about your daily routine – it involves various activities beyond walking the dog. Similarly, your canine companion needs diverse forms of engagement to stay mentally and physically stimulated.

Engagement Is Key: Beyond Traditional Walks

Regular walks have become the norm, but they’re often insufficient. Dogs need more than a stroll; they thrive on interactive activities that challenge their minds. Walking in a straight line doesn’t provide the mental stimulation most dogs require. Instead, engage with your dog through play, training, and interactive games to foster a stronger bond and alleviate boredom.

LET’S $&#* THIS UP!!!

When dogs are bored they find their own forms entertainment, which are often destructive to the home or to themselves because the dog is UNDERstimulated. It’s looking to expend pent up energy that it doesn’t have a proper outlet for. Doing the same activity, eating the same food and being generally uninspired can drive people to dangerous thrill seeking behaviors just because they need to do something to get out of feeling stuck. It’s no different with dogs. They will sometimes turn to destruction and chaos in order to get out of the loop they feel stuck in.

The other time they may become destructive is if they are OVER tired! Puppies and senior dogs need more sleep than the average adult dog. If your dog has been playing or otherwise engaging and it seems like it needs more because it won’t stop, consider giving them some quiet time for a snooze instead of engaging further.
chart depicting how much sleep dogs should get by breed

Playing, training and otherwise engaging WITH them will make a bigger impact than allowing them to figure things out on their own. This kind of interaction makes use of their brains to learn, troubleshoot, and grow. The change of scenery, activities and routine keeps things interesting and fresh, and decreases the chance of the dog falling back on destructive entertainment.

Understanding Cold Weather Concerns

A chart showing what temperatures dogs can walk safely without worry

Other factors that can affect how cold your dog feels include breed, age, coat and coat condition, baseline health, and more!

While outdoor walks may seem appealing, cold weather poses risks to your dog’s health. Factors like breed, age, and coat condition affect how dogs tolerate low temperatures. Puppies, seniors, and sick dogs are particularly vulnerable to extreme cold, increasing their risk of hypothermia and frostbite. Additionally, walking on icy surfaces can cause discomfort and skin irritations.

This infographic is a good starting point to watch for signs of trouble. Dogs don’t know that the cold weather can be bad for them, and they may still be excited to go for a walk even though their eyeballs are frozen shut and they have ice lining their nostrils. To them, however, it may be worth it in order to spend time with you!

Of course, there are some dogs that are conditioned and bred for cold weather and enjoy these temperatures more than most. These are dogs that are used to this kind of outdoor lifestyle and are hardened to it. These dogs don’t follow the same guidelines. You can also lower risk with proper winter gear – coats, booties, snoods, eye protection for windy days, etc. For the average household pet that stays in a warm house most of the time, however, the guideline shown is a good starting point.

How much exercise does my dog need?

guideline to determine how much exercise a dog needs in a dayThis isn’t even touching on the stress walks can have on the joints of young pups or senior dogs. The guideline to the right can help determine the exercise needs of your dog. As always, this varies depending on your own dog’s needs. Some breeds will need more exercise. Some dogs have been conditioned for more activity in their day, as well, and their exercise tolerance will be higher. There are absolutely exceptions, but the average household pet would likely benefit from starting with these guidelines to create a balanced routine for their dog.

Sleeping the day away on the couch with a walk to break things up sounds simple and cozy, but it’s not the life most dogs dream of. They want to do so much more, and there are so many ways to help them live their best lives without destruction and chaos. Why take risks when there are healthier and more comfortable options?

Rethinking Your Routine: Finding Balance

If you have a dog that you “have” to walk minimum two hours a day everyday, I challenge you to make a list of things your dog does in a day, and compare it to the list of things you do in a day. How does it compare? Does your dog have the same amount of energy-expending activities as you do? Does your dog have mental stimulation? (hint: walking isn’t considered very mentally stimulating!)

Reevaluate your dog’s exercise routine and explore alternative activities to traditional walks. Instead of adhering to a rigid walking schedule, focus on engaging your dog in stimulating activities. Remember, quality engagement is more important than sheer quantity when it comes to exercise.

Embrace New Activities: Adventuring Beyond Walks

If you’re unsure where to start, consider participating in our FREE December advent calendar of games. These interactive activities are designed to keep your dog mentally and physically engaged while strengthening your bond. From December 1st to 24th, discover new ways to have fun with your furry friend without relying solely on walks.

In conclusion, while walks have their benefits, they’re not the only form of exercise for dogs. By embracing alternative activities and prioritizing mental stimulation, you can provide your dog with a fulfilling and enriching lifestyle – one that goes beyond the confines of traditional walks.

Be safe, be warm, and HAVE FUN!!


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Krystal believes pants are over rated, coffee is the juice of life and dogs should live forever. To find out more about this marshmallow, head over to her “Meet the team” page – click here!