When you chose to add a Pitbull to your family, you knew that you were getting a high-energy dog. But how much exercise does a Pitbull need every day? You may find the answers surprising!
We’ll discuss questions like choosing the right games for your dog to play and your Pitbull’s need to work its mental “muscles” as well as how to know if your pet is overtired or not getting enough exercise.
Use this article to orient yourself to your Pitbull’s need for physical activity and mental stimulation and find some great tips on exercise for Pitbulls.
You’ll be getting a workout and quality time with your dog too, so both of you will be happier and healthier when you get the balance right.
How Much Exercise Does A Pitbull Need Based On Life Stage?
When talking about how much exercise your Pitbull needs, we can only generalize. Please use this guideline accordingly. Nothing beats getting to know your dog and his or her individual condition.
Remember that the Pitbull exercise time we’ll suggest is daily exercise. It doesn’t all have to be done in one go. You can split it up into mornings and evenings if you prefer.
Exercise For Pitbull Puppies
You can harm a puppy permanently by overdoing exercise while they are still growing.
The rule of thumb for all dogs is to calculate the amount of time needed for walks at 5 minutes for every month of their age.
Remember, this is moderate physical activity: walking or trotting rather than a full-tilt run.
At 3 months old, start introducing your Pitbull to daily walks lasting 15 to 30 minutes provided that he has been vaccinated.
Use a harness rather than a collar so that your pup won’t put pressure on his windpipe if he strains at the lead. Pair it with a relatively lightweight leash.
During playtime, your pup will set the pace, giving up on the game when he’s had enough exercise.
However, if he seems to be so obsessed with the game that he’s pushing the limits of his endurance, end the game yourself.
At 4 months old, you can increase your walk time to 20 to 40 minutes. At 5 months, your Pitbull puppy may seem to have boundless energy, but you can still overdo walking.
25 to 45 minutes should be enough for now. Once your puppy is 6 months old, the daily walk occupies 30 to 60 minutes.
Exercise For Adolescent And Adult Pitbulls (12 Months And Over)
A young, healthy adult Pitbull will enjoy up to two hours of exercise a day – but not all of it has to be walking.
45 minutes to an hour’s walking which can be split between mornings and evenings will be sufficient – provided he has other opportunities for exercise.
Once your young dog is 18 months old, you can start introducing running to the daily outing. Keep a close eye on your dog. Pitbulls are built for short bursts of speed rather than long runs.
Exercise For Senior Pitbulls
Senior Pitbulls will need gentler exercise, especially if their joints are starting to give them trouble.
Lower-impact, shorter walks or swims will be suitable since running may be uncomfortable for them.
Dog-Walking Tips For Pitbulls
Keep The Leash On
Do keep your Pitbull on a leash when out and about.
Pitbulls can be extremely single-minded and your dog taking off into traffic could be fatal. In addition, people are nervous of Pitbulls, and it’s only fair to keep them feeling secure.
In areas where it is required, or if your dog is inclined to leash reactivity, a term referring to greater aggression when leashed, fit him with a muzzle.
When in doggy parks or public open spaces, you can use a long, retractable leash to give your dog more freedom to play without removing the leash altogether.
Even when you know you can trust your Pitbull with other animals, respect the owners of other dogs who might feel intimidated by your Pitbull’s presence.
Socialization Is A Must
From its puppyhood, work hard to socialize your Pitbull. That means exposing it to new sights, smells, sounds, people, and other animals.
Without this, your Pitbull may become stressed out or overexcited on walks leading to behavioral problems that can even extend to biting or attacking.
Puppy school can begin at eight weeks and will help with socialization and leash training.
Let Your Pitbull Sniff Around
Many dog owners seem to get upset when their dogs want to stop and sniff an odor they find interesting while out on a walk.
It’s normal dog behavior, and it adds to their enjoyment, so by all means let them enjoy reading the “newspaper” of scents they find along the way.
A dog that isn’t allowed to use its nose as it wants to may also end up feeling frustrated. Keep those walks positive!
Know When Your Pitbull Is Starting To Tire
An overtired dog can become overstimulated, overexcited, disobedient, testy, and downright naughty. Needless to say, that’s bad news if you’re out on a walk.
If you previously walked or ran a certain distance and want to extend that, take it a little bit at a time and make sure they aren’t getting sore paws from rough paving or tarmac.
Look out for heavy panting. It’s the first sign that your dog is starting to overheat or tire.
If you’re out on a hot day, be sure to take water along, especially if you’re running with your dog. Dehydration can present a big risk for dogs too!
Other Types Of Exercise For Your Pitbull
Going out for a walk or run should form part of your Pitbull’s daily exercise, but there are lots of other ways your dog can get a workout.
For example, swimming is great exercise, particularly for dogs with joint issues. Pitbulls aren’t very good swimmers, however, so do supervise this carefully.
Whatever exercises or games you choose, do remember to participate as much as you can. Pitbulls need a lot of positive attention and time spent bonding with their owners.
While free play is good, spending time with your Pitbull during the fun times helps to reinforce your role as its owner and can provide opportunities for training.
So, without further ado, let’s get into some of the games you can play with your dog and some of the toys he will be likely to enjoy.
Games To Play With Your Pitbull
The game of fetch is one of the most obvious ways to help your dog let off steam. It will also help to satisfy his prey instinct and learn to identify the toy you use as legitimate prey.
As you might have guessed, you’ll need something pretty sturdy if you want to use a ball, and you can expect your dog to go through balls pretty quickly thanks to his powerful jaws.
Dumbbell toys offer an alternative and should be soft enough not to harm his teeth.
To begin with, your dog might not be all that good at bringing his toy back to you, but most Pitbulls soon learn that if they want the chase, they have to bring the toy back. Keep it fun and let him learn at his own pace.
Do use proper pet toys. Some dog owners use sticks or even rocks. Sticks can splinter, cutting the tongue or gums, and rocks will wear out your dog’s teeth.
Flirt Pole Games
A flirt pole consists of a pole with a toy or lure attached to a line or rope. The game seems simple on the surface.
You move the pole around and your dog chases the toy. However, there’s more to this than just a high-energy game.
It helps your dog to improve its coordination, and it’s also a great way to provide mental stimulation. At the same time, it’s a tool for training too.
Start by telling your dog to sit or lie down. If it obeys even though you’re wiggling the lure, that’s quite an achievement and deserves a reward.
Your dog’s reward is being allowed to chase the lure, so let it know the game is on with a “take” command.
After your dog has caught the lure and played with it a little, try the “drop it” command and give your Pitbull a treat when he obeys.
Do be patient. Your dog might need time to master the game as you want it to be played, but once a Pitbull can obey you even when there’s “prey” in the offing, it has passed an important milestone.
Tug Of War Games
In the past, it was commonly thought that playing tug of war with a Pitbull would make it more aggressive.
However, the AKC makes a strong argument in favor of tug of war – and allowing your dog to win too!
When playing tug of war with your dog, be careful not to hurt him. A Pitbull may be a tough dog, but pulling too hard, jerking, or suddenly changing the direction of the pull can injure him.
As with the flirt pole, you can use tug of war to teach impulse control. Once your dog reaches a point when it obeys the “leave” command in the middle of an exciting game, you can feel much more secure about his training.
Set him up for success and don’t punish him if he doesn’t obey. Use commands in moderation, allowing for plenty of play, and when you do use a command, leave the game if he doesn’t listen.
During play, let your dog “win” and run off with the toy, but don’t give chase or try to take it away from him.
If your Pitbull wants the game to continue, he must bring the toy back to you of his own accord. If he doesn’t want to, it’s game over.
Jolly balls are made to take a lot of chewing and play. They’re available in a variety of sizes and can be used for free play when your Pitbull is on its own or in interactive play with you.
Choose smaller-sized balls when you want your dog to be able to pick up and carry the ball.
Bigger sizes are for “doggie football” style games in which your dog moves the ball around with his nose or body. You can participate by literally getting the ball rolling.
Mental Stimulation For Pitbulls
Pitbulls don’t just need physical exercise. They also need mental exercise.
Walks and games with you can double as both, but you should also purposefully build some intellectual exercise into your dog’s routine.
Training Exercises And New Things To Learn
It’s vitally important to train a Pitbull well. In most biting incidents, we find that the Pitbull involved wasn’t properly trained. Start with puppy school and continue through with dog school.
But just going to school won’t be enough if you don’t do some “homework” with your dog.
Practice the things your dog has already learned and is still learning for a few minutes each day. Your Pitbull will love “working” with you and is eager to please.
Keep your Pitbull that way by making training a positive activity in which he can earn treats, love, and attention.
As your dog masters routine commands, keep practicing them to reinforce their importance and branch out into new commands and tricks that provide an intellectual challenge.
Time With Other Dogs
Keep your dog well-socialized and mentally stimulated by providing time with other dogs. Get a dog-walking buddy and consider getting your Pitbull a more regular playmate by getting a second dog.
Choose a dog that will be up to playing with him and remember to supervise introductions carefully, ideally, on neutral territory.
Kongs are perhaps the best-known of the doggie puzzle toys but there are other variants. The idea is simply to hide some treats inside the toy and leave your dog to figure out how to get at them.
When choosing puzzle toys for Pitbulls, remember that their strong jaws need to be accounted for, and choose the sturdiest ones.
Your Pitbull’s Program
It’s easy to have good intentions that you never get around to fulfilling. Drawing up an exercise program and schedule will help you to meet your commitments.
Remember that while your Pitbull likes routine, for example, walks at a certain time of the day, it will also enjoy some variation.
If the information we’ve given you so far is leaving you feeling daunted, relax!
Your Pitbull’s exercise program need not consist of more than an hour a day of physical exercise from a mixture of walks and games.
Add half an hour to an hour of intellectual stimulation like training practice to keep your Pitbull healthy in body and mind.
All these activities can be divided up into a morning and afternoon or evening routine.
As a rule of thumb, you’ll budget two hours or so of your time every day, but do remember that companionship time in which you just relax together isn’t factored into this.
Drawing up an exercise program helps you to stick to your resolutions as a Pitbull parent. Record the times you’re committing to as well as the activities you will use to fill that time.
How To Tell If Your Pitbull Is Getting Too Much Or Too Little Exercise
If you’re into fitness, you’ll know that while too little exercise isn’t good for you, too much can be painful and lead to long recovery times.
Since your Pitbull can’t tell you how he is feeling, has a high tolerance for physical pain, and is eager to keep you happy, he might allow you to overexercise him. It will be your responsibility to make sure that he doesn’t.
Too little exercise and stimulation also mean that you have an unhappy, bored dog. And this could make your relationship with your Pitbull a rocky one.
Here’s how to recognize signs and symptoms of over-or-under-exercise.
Too Little Exercise And Your Pitbull
A bored Pitbull with too much pent-up energy isn’t a good companion. Just as children are inclined to become naughty when they’re bored, so will your dog.
It may start chewing things it shouldn’t, digging up your entire yard, or playing so roughly that it’s actually dangerous.
Your dog might start whining or barking incessantly to get your attention, and believe it or not, a reprimand is also a form of attention your dog will settle for if it can’t get anything else.
When your Pitbull isn’t getting mental stimulation and reinforcement of important things it needs to learn, like controlling its prey drive or obeying your commands, you may be in for a very uncomfortable relationship with your Pitbull!
Nine times out of ten, a “difficult” Pitbull is a neglected Pitbull who isn’t getting enough time with its owner, enough exercise, and enough training.
How To Tell If Your Pitbull Is Getting Too Much Exercise
If you’ve been putting a lot of miles behind you with your Pitbull and it’s too much for him, you might notice worn out or swollen paw pads.
Your dog might not limp even though its feet are hurting. It’s enjoying your company, but it’s possible to have too much of a good thing.
Just as you feel stiff and sore after overdoing it at the gym, your dog might show signs of stiffness and discomfort.
Remember not to suddenly increase exercise. Allow your dog to build up endurance over time.
In older dogs, you might have to go the opposite way, gradually cutting down on the more strenuous parts of your Pitbull’s training routine.
Joint injuries are particularly painful and it’s likely your Pitbull will show its discomfort. Think about the activities you’ve been enjoying and try to pinpoint which of them has proved too strenuous.
As we mentioned earlier, an exhausted dog gets grumpy or overexcited easily. If your dog seems moody, it may need some rest and adjustment to its exercise schedule.
Even if you’re pretty sure that too much exercise is to blame, take your Pitbull to the vet if it seems lethargic or in pain.
Varied play, learning, and exercise with its owner is important to Pitbulls. Plan for a total of one and a half to two hours a day with your dog.
Know your Pitbull and make allowances for its age and overall health when necessary.
Get the balance right, and you’ll have a healthy, well-adjusted companion. Keeping Pitbulls can be a pleasure. It’s up to you to make sure that it is!