Does Your Dog Need a Fitness Tracker?

Last year I talked the Executive Director of CYCLE Kids into purchasing a FitBit. I was in a heated “step” competition with family and friends, and wanted to see how Julie’s active lifestyle measured up. She bought one right away and came into the office the next week… “Puck has been walking 10,000 steps a day!” Puck is her Bernese Mountain Dog.

We both laughed, knowing that was not what the FitBit was intended for, but it got both of us thinking. Puck is 8 years old, and as most dogs do as they age, he’s started to slow down a bit. Julie walks him regularly throughout the day, takes him to the dog park each morning, and always tries to go for a hike or a longer walk on the weekends.

As any fitness tracking adult can attest, wearing a tracker of any kind, if nothing else, raises your awareness around how much (or how little) you move everyday. Julie realized that despite her best efforts, Puck needed even more exercise. After taking him on a few longer hikes and walks around town, she said he was like a new dog. He was happier, and had so much more energy.

So, how do you know if your dog is getting enough exercise?

The amount of exercise a dog needs varies greatly, depending on the size, breed, and age of the dog. However, it’s safe to say that most dogs need at least 30 minutes of outdoor exercise everyday. Some larger breeds (like Puck!) need upwards of two hours. How many “steps” does that equate to? Smaller dogs will take more steps than larger dogs, but larger dogs will need more total steps. If you decide to strap your fitness tracker on your dog, you will have to see what it takes for your dog to get to the coveted 10,000 steps. You might find he needs to spend more time off-leash, maybe playing in the backyard, or maybe it’s time to invest in a doggie daycare for a few days each week.

How can I tell if my dog has had enough exercise?

A panting dog is a good sign that he was able to get his heart rate up for an extended period of time. If you’re dog is tired after their “workout” - it’s a good sign. You know your dog better than anyone, if he starts acting out or not “acting like himself” it might be time to increase the daily activity.  And don’t forget, your dog will need fresh water before, during, and after their “workout,” just like you!

How often should my dog exercise?

Just like you, your dog should exercise everyday! Having a dog is a great way to ensure you move in some way, everyday. You don’t need to take your dog to the gym or a pilates class, a simple walk around the neighborhood, to the dog park, or on a trail is a great way to get them, and you moving. Only have 10 minutes? 10 minutes is better than no minutes! Squeeze it in when you can and log those steps for you and your pup.

How do you ensure your dog (and you) get enough exercise? Let us know in the comments below!