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Work out your walkies with our new dog walking calculator

Written by Salman Haqqi, Senior Personal Finance Writer

24 April 2020

Social distancing measures continue to dictate our daily routines. As we adapt to this ‘new normal’ those of us with canine companions are enjoying the benefits of having a dog to take out on walks - whether that’s along our ‘normal’ routes or, in cases of self-isolation, within the confines of our own property.

Graphic of person holding three dogs on their leads

But while our intentions are undoubtedly good, the reality is that our pets are feeling the brunt of our WFH lifestyles and, in some cases, are struggling to get the appropriate amount of exercise. For some pups, the lure of spending time outdoors is leading owners to over exercise, while for others, the constraints have led to under exercise.

To help you keep your four legged friend happy and healthy, Money has partnered with leading dog behaviourist Nick Jones MA to bring you the definitive answer to the question: how far should I walk my dog each day?

How to give your dog enough exercise without leaving home

The past few weeks has seen people from across the world get creative and achieve major physical feats, including climbing the equivalent height of Mount Everest using their stairs and even running a marathon on a 7-metre balcony.

So, while any long scenic walks in the countryside for your pooch might be a few weeks away, our new Work Out Your Walkies Calculator, allows you to quickly work out how many laps of your garden your dog needs to get their daily fill of walkies!

All you need to do is select your dog’s breed and age, and enter the length and width of your garden. You can even enter the amount of daily walks your dog is used to to keep in with what their daily routine.

This tool is indicative and only provides a rough estimate.

How much exercise your dog needs depends on their breed, age, health and personality. The Work Out Your Walkies Calculator provides a rough guide of how much exercise each breed of dog needs, but every dog is an individual and may be different to other dogs of the same breed (one might love a long walk, while the other prefers running and playtime, for example). If you’re unsure on how much exercise your dog needs, it’s best to speak to your vet for advice.

How many miles does your dog need to walk in a day?

If you are in a position where you can walk your dog outside of your own property while respecting social distancing regulations and guidelines, you’re probably enjoying the opportunity to take your dog out for a little longer than normal, or perhaps are finding your walks are more restricted and therefore you’re doing a little less.

Every dog breed has a recommended amount of exercise they need to do to keep them fit and well without risking health issues. Of course, each individual pup has their own requirements, and if you’re ever unsure, be sure to consult your vet. But there are guidelines we can use to tell us how much our dog needs.

The following table has been created with the support of Nick Jones MA, dog behaviourist, and outlines the appropriate walking distance for some of the UK’s most common dog breeds (source: Statista 2019, common breeds by registered number):

Breed Recommended Walking Distance (KM) Recommended Walking Distance (Miles) Recommended Walking Time (Hours)
Cocker Spaniel106.32
English Springer Spaniel106.32
Golden Retriever106.32
Hungarian Vizsla106.32
Labrador Retriever106.32
Beagle7.54.71.5
Border Collie7.54.71.5
Boxer7.54.71.5
Dachshund7.54.71.5
German Shepherd7.54.71.5
Rottweiler7.54.71.5
Border Terrier53.11
Cavalier King Charles Spaniel53.11
English Bulldog53.11
French Bulldog53.11
Miniature Schnauzer53.11
Pug53.11
Shih Tzu53.11
Staffordshire Bull Terrier53.11
Whippet53.11

Keeping your dog mentally fit

Nick Jones MA, Dog Behaviourist at Alpha Dog Behaviour, gave us these tips:

It’s even more important than ever that you keep your dog physically and mentally engaged while you’re in self isolation. While making sure you have sufficient food and other essential items for your dog is key, there are so many things you can do that don’t require leaving the house to ensure your best friend is fighting fit when all of this is over.

And, while a walk around the garden might not be quite as exciting as a trip to your local park, it is the stimulation you give to them as an owner at this time that we keep them healthy and happy! 

Try these simple tips and tricks to keep your dog mentally stimulated from the comfort of your own home:

Introduce new games for them to enjoy

Games such as hide and seek can be a great way to keep your dog entertained. Choose some of their favourite toys and treats to hide around your house or flat and encourage your pup to find them all with hints and tips. You can even make dinner time a little more exciting by hiding some of their food around the house. 

Treat them to new toys or things to explore

If you have any new toys or objects for them to play with, now is the time to introduce them. Pet shops remain open during this lockdown so if you have to pop in to buy more food or other supplies for your pooch why not treat them to a new toy for them to enjoy.

 Old dogs really can learn new tricks

Dogs young and old secretly love to learn new tricks (even if you don’t think they do!). Reinforcing the standard tricks such as “sit”, “lie down”, and “roll over” can be an easy way to keep their brains engaged if they are stuck inside. Don’t forget to reward them as well!

Games and puzzles are not just for you

There are now so many toys and apps available to keep your dog mentally stimulated. Most of them have different degrees of difficulty so you can adjust as your dog improves. You can also make one of your own using a cardboard box/toilet roll tube with small holes in and treats inside. Make sure to only use a portion of your dog’s daily food for games in order to avoid overfeeding.

Pop on a puppy-friendly podcast or TV show

It’s no secret that your dog might react to other animals on your TV as they would when meeting other furry friends outside on their usual walk. They may even start barking or running behind the screen! This can be an easy way to keep them moving around and their brains active (and you entertained in the process).

Puppies and pooches come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and have different requirements as they get older. Ensure you have the very best protection in place and are covered for life's dog ownership adventures with the best pet insurance for your furry friend.

A dog is for life, not just for lockdown…

While owning a dog during this time can bring some much needed companionship, it’s important to remember that having a pet is a lot of work.

The tools above are intended not only to help those people who already have dogs to keep them healthy, but also to show those thinking of getting a dog the work involved in doing so.

With searches for the term ‘buy a dog’ up over 80% between March and April 2020, there is a clear hunger for dog ownership. But don’t rush into it; after all, a dog is for life, not just for lockdown…

Dog walking during COVID-19 FAQs

The Government's advice is to stay at home wherever possible. Daily exercise is allowed - and this includes walking your dog - but you should try to stay close to home wherever possible.

Ideally, you would make use of your garden for your daily dog walks, meaning you wouldn't need to leave home at all. Plus, you can go out in your garden as many times as you like in a day, so you get more dog walks in, too.

The Government guidelines state that we should only leave the house once per day for exercise - and this includes walking your dog. Of course, your garden is part of your home so if you can use your garden for dog exercise, you can go out as many times as you like.

The distance your dog needs to walk is, broadly speaking, based on its breed and its age.

We asked dog behaviourist Nick Jones MA to tell us the specific distance needed by each breed, which is then multiplied 1 for dogs between 18 months and 7 years old, and by 0.66 for dogs under 18 months or over 7 years old, because younger or older dogs need less exercise.

Of course, if you are ever unsure about anything to do with your dog's wellbeing, you should consult a vet as other considerations may need to be taken for your dog's own personal needs.