You’ve probably seen viral videos of dogs who run off to retrieve their own leashes when it’s time for a walk or refuse to come back inside from a day of exercise at the park. And you’ve likely witnessed your own pet’s excitement at the prospect of an outing.

It’s no wonder she’s so excited since the benefits of exercising for dogs go well beyond the physical.

Benefits of Exercise

Integrating the right amount of activity into your dog’s day (this daily dog exercise calculator can help), every day, exercises her mind as well as her body. Regularly timed walks (or runs, for the right dog) help solidify the routines that are so important to your pup. Leash walks can reinforce training efforts. And outings can be key to socialization as your dog learns to interact positively with fur friends.

embark dog playing

Whether your best friend is a Bichon or a Border Collie, all dogs—like you and me—need some amount of regular exercise to maintain their physical health, from keeping their heart and lungs healthy to keeping extra body weight at bay.

While veterinary professionals generally recommend between 30 and 60 minutes of aerobic exercise a day for dogs, depending on breed, age and personality, it is critical that you talk to your vet about the amount of exercise that is right for your specific pet’s health. Young pups are waiting for their growth plates to close while older dogs might suffer from arthritis and joint pain. Knowing your dog’s approximate age helps inform her care, which is one of the reasons Embark’s DNA testing includes estimating genetic age.

Safety First

Along with whatever advice your vet has to offer, remember that pets headed outdoors are vulnerable to both heat and cold, so take the steps necessary to ensure your dog stays safe. Keep her hydrated, whatever the weather. And stay tuned in to her mood, whether you’re throwing her a Frisbee or walking her around the pond. You want her tired out but not overly so.

Signs your pup is not burning off enough energy can include pacing, chewing and other attention-seeking behaviors. Exercise in dogs, as in humans, stimulates serotonin production in the brain, which helps keep us feeling content. Whatever you do to keep your dog moving—
whether you’re tossing Polly a Frisbee, walking Esther through the neighborhood or taking Lucy for a swim—just might be the best part of your day.