How often should you walk your dog? Best practices for keeping your pup healthy. – USA TODAY

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Being a pet owner can be stressful. From keeping consistent feeding times to booking yearly veterinarian visits, taking care of your furry best friend is no easy job. 
Even the simplest task of walking your dog can seem tedious. 
No matter the size, breed or age, all dogs need a walk. Whether  a leisurely stroll, endurance run or bathroom break, walks are beneficial to your dog’s health
How often your pup should go for a walk depends on a couple factors, but the main takeaway is physical activity does wonders for your pet. 
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There are four factors to consider when figuring out how often you should walk your dog, according to PetMD.
When it comes to dogs, each breed has its own style of care. Some may need to be walked just once a day while others need up to three walks, according to the American Kennel Club. 
Certain sporting and working dogs, like golden retrievers or doberman pinschers, need lots of daily activity and exercise. Toy breeds, like pekingese, are much calmer, according to the AKC. 
Just like humans, younger dogs will have more energy than their older counterparts, according to PetMD. This means younger dogs may need more walks. Dogs up to 4 years old will also be more likely to engage in play than older dogs, PetMD says.
Another thing to note about older dogs is health conditions, such as diabetes or arthritis. These could play a role in lowering their stamina, making them less inclined to exercise and go on walks, according to PetMD. 
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Dogs in good shape can walk 20 to 30 minutes daily, according to PetMD. But if your dog is overweight or has health issues, it may only be able to make it through a 10-minute walk. Monitor your dog’s pace next time you take it out. This can help you assess what your dog can and cannot handle.
Sometimes, our schedules are busy and packed, so we cannot always take the time for a lengthy walk with our pet. It is recommended to walk your dog between 10 and 15 minutes, two to three times a week, according to PetMD. 
But if this is not feasible for your schedule, an alternative to a walk outside is 10 to 15 minutes of activity at home, according to PetMD.
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You are not a bad pet owner if you miss walking your dog a day or two, says Smiling Leash. So long as your pup is getting some kind of activity, they are doing just fine, says Vet Street. 
While walking may be the preferred method of exercise for some pet owners, others do not have the time.
Your pet can enjoy a game of fetch outside or chasing a ball down the hallway just as much as a walk. 
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Dogs enjoy stopping to sniff on walks since it lets them know who else has gone to the bathroom there, says the AKC.
Your dog also wants to make their mark in the area, so they will sniff out the best spot to do so. Some male dogs will even lift their back leg as high as possible for their pee to reach other dogs’ nose levels, according to the AKC. 
Sometimes, your dog may even scratch the ground to further leave its signature. Dogs have glands in their toes which give off scents when they dig into the ground, amping up the smell profile, says the AKC. 
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Generally, adult dogs will have to go to the bathroom three to five times a day, according to Purina. Most veterinarians will recommend waiting between six to eight hours for toilet breaks, says Purina. But just as different factors contribute  to needing more walks, the same goes for trips to pee. 
Puppies have smaller bladders than older dogs so they will have to go to the bathroom more frequently. On the flip side, senior dogs cannot hold their bladder as long as younger dogs.
If your dog has health issues, such as being overweight or diabetic, this may also contribute to more frequent urination, says Purina. 
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