Going for a walk with your dog

Long or short walks are part of a dog’s everyday life. And dog lovers are just as happy as their four-legged friends about spending time together. But what should you consider when walking, how does exercise affect a dog’s health and how much time should you plan to walk every day? 

Where does the German term for walking the dog (Gassi laufen) come from?

The exact origin of the expression “Gassi laufen” is unclear. It presumably comes from the word “Gasse” meaning alley. In old European towns in particular, there are many narrow streets between the rows of houses. Historically, a dog would have therefore been “led into the alley” to get its exercise. Although nowadays it is more popular to take dogs out for a walk in the countryside, the term has still caught on.

Regular walking is important for dogs!

A walk is more than just exercise for the dog. Time away from home is important for the health of adult dogs as well as for the healthy development of puppies.

Some drives, which are thought to be characteristic of our four-legged friends because they descend from wolves, are theoretically no longer necessary due to living together with humans. For example, man’s best friend no longer needs to hunt down meals. However this urge may still be pronounced in some breeds. This explains why regular exercise combined with mental stimulation is so important for a dog’s overall health.

Dog does not want to go for a walk

The owner may plan out their daily routine and the time with their four-legged friend, and suddenly the dog doesn’t want to go for a walk. It is not uncommon for dogs to refuse to move, leaving their owners baffled. The causes are not always an indicator poor health; they can be very diverse.

Sometimes dogs refuse to go for a walk

Reasons a dog may refuse a walk

Finding the exact cause of a certain dog behaviour is often not so easy. If you did not take your four-legged friend in when they were a puppy, it is likely that they had a bad experience in the past and do not want to go for a walk. But this is just one of many possible reasons. Other triggers can be:

  • Link with negative experiences
  • Pain or lack of fitness
  • Climate, e.g. extreme heat or cold
  • Uncertainty
  • Fear
  • Sluggishness due to wrong food
  • Boredom

Tips for more fun when walking

Different dog breeds have different requirements, but also each dog has individual needs, you need to research the causes!

Have a health check

Unfortunately, dogs cannot communicate where they are uncomfortable or in pain. Some dogs even actually hide pain. A health check at the vet is recommended to check their health status and to rule out disease-related causes. It is particularly recommended for older dogs or dog breeds that are prone to breed-specific diseases to have regular precautionary health examinations.

Offer variety when walking

Why should our four-legged friends be any different from us humans? Nothing is more demotivating than boredom. For some dogs and dog breeds, always walking the same path can become boring. You can counteract boredom by providing more variety during the walk. You can find ideas for this in our article “Dog games for indoors and outdoors”. 
Sometimes it also helps if you simply change the route of the walk. On new paths, your four-legged friend can find other stimuli and smells, which is very exciting.

Sluggishness due to wrong food

With a full belly, you don’t really feel like exercising - we all know this too well. Most varieties of dog food are produced by the extrusion process. This removes the liquid from the feed. As soon as the croquettes come into contact with liquid again, they swell up. This leads to a food belly in dogs and can cause sluggishness especially after a meal. If dog food is not properly adapted to the needs of dogs, this can be reflected in their health and vitality. Food cooked with the Fleischsaftgarung process is cooked in the nutrient-rich meat juice. This retains the liquid from the fresh meal, so the food does not swell up in their stomach and your four-legged friend is ready for their next walk.

Bad experiences or fear

If you suspect that refusal to go for a walk is due to fear or bad experiences, try to motivate your four-legged friend with loving consistency. Depending on how the dog is affected, it can help to get them used to the situation by facing them and distracting them at the same time, in order to give them a sense of security. It is best to approach this together with an experienced dog trainer.

Adapt the walk to the climate

In summer, when it is very hot outside and asphalted paths heat up, long walks should be taken in the early morning or late evening. This is good for your four-legged friend’s circulation and for their paws. Extreme cold also has dangers. Dogs without much fur get cold quickly. Special dog coats are useful for keeping dogs warm.

10 questions and answers about walking the dog

There are a few things to bear in mind to make your walks a pleasure for both dog owner and four-legged friend. Even if dog walking is second nature to you, there are still a lot of questions. From the right lead to the duration of the walk to legal aspects, we have explored ten important questions.

1. How often should you take a dog out?

Even though many dog owners would like one, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Because how often a dog needs exercise outside depends on many factors:

  • Age
  • Size
  • Dog breed
  • Duration of the activity or run
  • Character
  • Other mental activities indoors
It’s not just the breed and age of the dog that determines the frequency of exercise, but also the type of exercise. So 20 minutes of trick training outdoors or even indoors can challenge the dog more than a leisurely 60-minute walk.

2. How long should I walk a dog for?

Just like the frequency of walks, the duration of walks is highly individual and depends on the factors mentioned. You will often come across recommendations of two long walks a day plus two shorter walks. You can consider this a rough guideline, but you should adapt it to the needs and health of your dog. 

Another factor is the weather. Puppies or cold-sensitive dog breeds should not be outside for too long in particularly low temperatures and should warm up indoors regularly. But it is also important to avoid extreme heat. So in summer, you can cut lunchtime walks without any guilt and add time in the morning or evening.

3. Which lead is best for walking?

The type of lead you use to walk your four-legged friend depends on its function, your personal preference and, if applicable, the breed of dog. Here is a rough overview of the most common types of dog leads:

Lead type Function Length
Lead line Classic, for leading the dog close to the body on lead when going for a walk Approx. 1.5 m - 2 m, adjustable if necessary
Retriever lead
Combines collar and lead Approx. 1.5 m - 2 m
Retractable or flexi lead Can be pulled in and out depending on how far away the dog is when walking it Average 4 m - 10 m
Flat leadLong, lightweight lead, suitable for training or when a dog does not walk safely without a lead Large range from approx. 5 m - 20 m length
Multiple dog leadLead extension for walking multiple dogs on one lead Length depends on the selected base line
Of course there are other types of leads, but it is important that you always have a lead with you! Even if you walk in the countryside away from others, your dog will need to be on the lead some of the time. You also need to be aware that in some states and cities, there are also regulations on the length of the lead. For example, if you go to the pedestrian zone in Berlin where there are large crowds, the lead may only be one metre long. Puppies that are not yet lead trained should be put on a harness for walking.

4. Where is it compulsory for dogs to be on a lead in Germany?

Lead requirements vary between federal states.

However, there are places in states without lead requirements where dogs must still be on leads. On paths outside town, dogs are allowed to move freely when walking. However, this may not apply at certain times, such as breeding and sowing seasons, so you should check local information.

5. Walk before or after dinner?

Generally, it is recommended that dogs have a small digestion break after a meal. Running around wildly or rolling on their back can lead to gastric torsion, especially in larger breeds.

Some dogs or dog breeds have a tendency to look for food outside. If a dog has not had a meal before a long walk, this urge can be increased. For a “hungry” dog with a pronounced appetite, they could be in danger from poisonous foods.
So, you should consider this on an individual basis. The quality of the dog food can also make a difference. If your four-legged friend is fed dog food that swells in the stomach (e.g. extruded food), they should rest for longer after a meal than, for example, if fed Fleischsaftgarung food.

6. What should be in the dog’s bag for a long walk?

On long walks or hikes lasting several hours, you may also pack the dog some provisions such as snacks and water. Special doggy bags are suitable for storing all the necessary equipment. Drinking breaks are particularly important for your four-legged friend's health if you are constantly exercising over a longer period of time. Our “Hiking with dogs” article provides detailed tips and a checklist for trips with your four-legged friend. 

7. How long can a dog go without being walked?

Generally, adult dogs can go a few hours without a walk. At night, dogs can easily last up to 8 hours without having to go outside. However, puppies should be given the opportunity to relieve themselves about once every 2 hours. If you feel that a puppy needs to go out less often during the night, you can slowly increase the time. During the day, you should not overdo this time and should offer your four-legged friend regular exercise and movement. Generally, house-trained four-legged friends will let you know when they urgently need to go outside. Puppies, on the other hand, are not yet able to do this.

8. What happens if you don’t walk the dog?

The first consequence of not going for a walk will be that they will relive themselves indoors. However, healthy adult dogs are extremely reluctant to do this. If you don’t give your dog enough exercise over a long period of time, this can have further consequences:

  • Boredom or frustration
  • Weight gain due to lack of exercise
  • Jumping around to get rid of excess energy
The last point in particular can be dangerous for humans, dogs and other animals.

9. How much exercise can puppies have?

As puppies are not house-trained to start with and can only control their bladder from a certain age, they should go outside more often than adult dogs. The duration of their walks should also be shorter. A general rule of thumb is that puppies are allowed to walk for 1 minute per week of life. So when a puppy is 12 weeks old, it should walk for about 12 minutes per walk. With increasing age, the time and the intervals between the walks can be slowly increased. You should not include getting to know other animals, playing or exploring the garden in this time. Wild romping should not be underestimated, however, and should be stopped if appropriate in order to calm the puppy down. This is because some dog breeds, especially when they are puppies, do not understand when they are tired and need to rest.

You can find more helpful tips on dealing with puppies in our puppy guide.

10. How many calories does a dog burn while walking?

Calorie requirements are very individual as they depend on the breed, age, size and weight of the dog. Besides, not all walks are the same. Some dogs trot along at a leisurely pace and other breeds walk briskly. It also makes a difference if the dog is on a lead or if it is mainly roaming free. As you can see, it is a very complex issue. Therefore, we recommend reading more about a dog’s calorie requirements here.

The benefits of PLATINUM dog food

  • PLATINUM uses a unique preparation method called FSG, which offers numerous advantages compared to conventional dog food.
  • Dog food prepared with FSG is gently cooked only in its own meat juice and is therefore nutrient-rich like BARF, excellent for building muscles and also extra tasty for your dog.
  • With at least 70% fresh meat in the dry dog food and 83% fresh meat or fresh fish in the wet dog food, PLATINUM places great value on a composition of the food that is adapted to the needs of dogs.
  • The declaration and composition of dog food prepared with FSG is tested regularly and independently by ELAB Analytik GmbH (formerly TÜV SÜD ELAB) - for canine health protection.
  • PLATINUM is generally very well accepted by dogs of all breeds and ages. Even four-legged friends with sensitive digestion or intolerances usually tolerate PLATINUM dog food well.
  • All products are free of soya, GMOs and gluten. In addition, no flavour enhancers, attractants, odourants or colourings are used.
  • Over 2,000 positive customer reviews at Trusted Shops speak for themselves!