Can You Over-Walk Your Dog?

Before you and Rover hit the pavement for your daily walk, here are a few things to ponder and put into practice.
Petsguide Magazine Online
Feb. 23, 2010

Dog walking is a healthy, daily ritual with physical and mental benefits.

However, what’s good for a full-grown German Shepherd isn’t necessarily ideal for a Pomeranian or a puppy. Below are some insights from American Kennel Club spokeswoman and pet advice columnist Lisa Peterson.

What’s normal? Generally, a minimum of 30 minutes is recommended to maintain good canine stamina. Be aware of signs that your dog is overexercised, such as heavy panting and limping. Breed also comes into play. For example, “herding dogs like German Shepherds can use more exercise versus toy breeds.”

Age matters. Don’t overwalk dogs under 2 on hard surfaces like concrete, Peterson advises. The reason: their skeletons are still growing and forming. Shorter walks are better for puppies. Peterson recommends 10-minute walks, done several times during the day; for young dogs, two 30-minute walks a day until maturity.

Life’s a beach. Some breeds are more sensitive to heat, among them pugs, bulldogs and terriers. As much as we love our beaches and beach walks, “many times, people don’t realize that sand gets very hot, and when you walk in the midday sun, [sand] can burn a dog’s pads,” Peterson said. “If you choose to take your dog on the beach, do it early in the morning or dusk when it’s not very hot.”

Location, location. “Dogs when walking in an urban setting walk through a variety of chemicals and toxins unbeknownst to us.” Tip: Rinse off paw pads after a walk. Check for residue and other outdoor detritus like thorns and bits of rock. If you own horses and enjoy taking Fido along for visits, washing his paws is especially important. You want to prevent him from accidentally ingesting horse manure, which contain parasites that can wreak havoc in a dog’s system.