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Pitbulls are fun-loving, people-oriented pups that are typically up for any kind of adventure you want to take them on! As with any other dogs, Pitbulls need opportunities to stretch their legs, improve their mental health, and exercise.
But how much exercise do Pitbulls need?
While it can vary by life stage, most adult Pitbulls need forty-five to one hour of exercise a day. Exercise can come in dozens of forms but it’s important that it involves at least some interaction with their people or other pups so Pitbulls can get mental stimulation as well.
Let’s take a closer look at the pitbull’s energy level and what activities work best for keeping our pups healthy and happy!
How Much Energy Does A Pitbull Have?
Pitbulls descended from the high-energy terrier breeds and it shows in their love for exercise, adventure, and activity! However, Pitbulls are far from the most active breed, and compared to hyperactive and super high-energy breeds like Jack Russel Terriers, Pitbulls will almost look like couch potatoes!
Your Pitbull Needs Exercise Variety
For most Pitbulls, around 45 to 60 minutes of exercise will keep them healthy, fit and happy even if there’s a good chance your Pitbull would be willing to go much longer!
But it’s not just the amount of time your Pitbull gets to exercise- the type of exercise matters and not all activity is equally stimulating for your dog. The 45 to 60minute guideline is only an estimate and you’ll need to consider what your Pitbull is actually doing during that time.
For example, letting your Pitbull run around the yard on their own with no toys is a very different exercise experience compared to high-intensity agility training! While you don’t need to run your Pitbull through a 45-minute obstacle course every day, you do need to consider the type of exercise your Pitbull is getting and make sure they’re getting a good variety.
Mental and Physical Stimulation Is Important
While some folks make a rigid distinction between mental stimulation (like food toys or puzzles) and physical stimulation (like jogging or running) I suggest Pitbull parents always consider blending the toy to maximize exercise and activity time!
Consider the difference between a jog around the neighborhood where you’re entirely focused on getting from point A to point B, and a brisk walk around the neighborhood where you also allow your Pitbull to sniff everything that’s interesting to them. The latter is a great way to get both mental and physical stimulation all in one activity!
There are times when a focused jog around the neighborhood makes sense and other times where a mix of physical and mental stimulation is best. We’ll talk more about this as we look at each type of exercise but it’s important to be thinking about the two sides of the exercise coin!
Set an Exercise Schedule
45 minutes to an hour of exercise might seem like a lot. You’ve got a busy schedule already but you want to be a good Pittie parent…so what can you do?
Realize that you don’t have to hit your exercise target in one session. You can spread out the daily exercise throughout the day and that’s typically the most obvious choice since your Pitbull will need potty breaks throughout the day.
But you should also consider setting a schedule. Instead of wondering how you’ll get your dog’s exercise in, make a plan for the week that adds some exercise variety while still fitting in with your schedule. You might not be able to throw the ball for an hour a day but you could probably squeeze in 15 minutes of tossing the ball along with some brisk walks.
By setting a schedule and breaking up the exercise sessions you can make the exercise routine much more manageable. That will make you and your Pitbull happier!
What Happens If Pitbulls Don’t Get Enough Exercise?
You probably already know that exercise is an important part of overall health not only for your pitbull but also for you!
But what happens if your Pitbull doesn’t get enough exercise and what kind of problems can exercise solve?
While the health benefits may be more subtle, especially in a younger dog, the behavior benefits usually aren’t. When any dog doesn’t get enough energy, you’ll likely see an increase in behavior problems like chewing, barking, and rougher play.
The exact behavior will vary between dogs but all that energy has to go somewhere and if you’re not providing the exercise your Pitbull will find some other way to get out their extra energy. Unfortunately, the outlets our Pitbulls choose aren’t always best and we’d much rather than chase a ball than chew a shoe!
What Kind of Exercise Is Best for Pitbulls?
Let’s look at a few of our favorite games, activities, and exercises that are perfect for most Pitbulls.
Walking and Running
Everyone already knows about walking and it’s a core part of any exercise program- but have you considered ways to make walks more interesting for you and your Pitbull?
The options are almost endless but here are some of our favorites:
Let Your Pitbull Take the Lead
In most cases, we’re in control of the route and we expect our Pitbull to follow our lead.
But instead, try letting your dog follow their nose!
The sense of the smell is our dog’s most prominent and powerful sense and by letting your Pitbull explore whatever scent they find on the walk, you’re giving them the chance for a ton of mental stimulation. Of course, you don’t want to let exploration time become the new walking standard and override basic leash manners but it still adds a lot of variety to the standard walk.
Try A Weighted Saddle Bag
Try adding some weights to make the walk a little more physically tiring for your Pitbull! While there are weighted vests specifically made for this purpose, I usually recommend a saddle bag that allows you to add small weights or really anything else. Not only does this allow you to easily control the amount of weight so you can find the perfect amount, but it’s also practical!
Once you’ve gone on a few walks where your Pitbull carries not only their poop bags but also their poop you won’t want to go back!
Training your Pitbull to carry their own supplies is even better if you enjoy hiking or camping. It’s also a great way to give your Pitbull a “job” to do for some extra mental stimulation.
As far as saddle bags go, I recommend the OneTigris saddle pack for most Pitties and you can check it out on Amazon by clicking here. It’s also worth reading some of the Amazon reviews from happy Pitbull parents which you can see here.
Just remember that extra weight means increased stress on joints so always start slow and avoid vigorous jogging or similar types of strenuous exercise.
Games and Interactive Toys
There’s an almost endless amount of games and toys that you can play with your Pitbull and they’re (almost) all good! Games and interactive toys not only provide mental and physical stimulation for our dogs but also give a chance to strengthen your bond.
Let’s look at a few of our favorites!
Flirt Poles or Flirt Sticks
A flirt pole, also sometimes called a flirt stick, is like a giant cat toy for your dog!
Check out this video for a great introduction to the flirt pole and a chance to see it in action:
One of the best things about a flirt pole is that allows your Pittie to get a ton of high-intensity exercise without needing a lot of space. Because of this, flirt poles are a great option if you’re living in a more urban area where you may not have a ton of room to play fetch. It’s also great if you’re unable (or unwilling) to go on a long jog.
You can even work basic commands into your flirt pole training to really take things up a notch! You can use the toy on the end of the flirt pole as the reward and you’ll certainly have your dog’s full attention as they wait for you to start moving the toy!
Finally, you can add even more variety by changing up the type of toy on the end of the rope. I highly recommend this flirt stick on Amazon which comes with three different squeaker-type toys that you can switch out. It’s also easy on the budget and backed by a ton of other reviewers.
If you do have some extra space then fetch can make a great game for Pitbulls.
However, you may need to teach your Pitbull to actually bring the ball or frisbee back and it could take some time for your dog to fully understand the game.
Start slow with short tosses but once your Pittie is consistently bringing the ball back I suggest checking out a ball launcher to not only give your arm a break but also throw the ball much further. While there are automatic ball launchers you can buy, which are much smaller versions of what you might find at a batting cage, I find that a simple ball launching stick does the trick.
The ChuckIt launcher is a great option and you don’t have to break the bank just to throw a ball! This thing will also really launch the ball so your Pittie can get plenty of exercise chasing it down. You can check out the latest price on Amazon by clicking here.
If you’ve got your basic technique down, you can also try a frisbee. Not only can you get some great distance with a frisbee, but some dogs absolutely love how it hovers in the air long enough for them to catch it! Even if your dog isn’t exactly great at catching, a frisbee can usually help!
Whatever you pick, make sure you have some way to throw the toy far without putting too much strain on your arm. Forty-five minutes of throwing can wear you out quickly!
A jolly ball is a silly name for a seriously cool toy! It’s a ball that’s too big for a Pitbull to fit in their mouth but not so big that’s difficult to roll around.
Check out this Pitbull pup having fun with a smaller Jolly ball:
These types of toys can keep Pitbulls happy and exercising without too much interaction from you. As we’ve already mentioned, your interaction is an important part of the process but a jolly ball can be a good way to mix it up and a jolly ball is perfect for a lazy day hanging out in the backyard.
When it comes to jolly balls, I recommend picking up one that has an extra handle or grip on it. Without this, your Pitbull will never get the satisfaction of actually getting the ball and carrying it around. While it’s not supposed to be easy, you don’t want your Pitbull to be constantly frustrated as they try to get a grip on the jolly ball!
This one from Jolly Pets (Amazon link) has a rope attached that will allow it to double as a tug of war toy or just let your dog shake it out! The added rope can also make it easier for you to throw the ball.
Tug of War
Tug of war sometimes has a bit of a bad reputation for encouraging bad behavior in dogs. But the AKC actually wrote an entire piece debunking these claims which you can check out here. For the vast majority of dogs, including Pitbulls, tug of war can be a great way to exercise, even if it often requires a little more effort on your part.
Tug of war taps into your dog’s hunting instincts and this type of play mimics the way your dog’s ancient ancestors would have ripped apart fresh prey. While that might seem a little morbid, it’s still a great way for dogs to work their whole body as they really focus on pulling!
As I mentioned above, this jolly ball from Jolly Pets can be a great option for tug of war but the only downside is that it requires you to actually pull on it! Sometimes, your powerful Pitbull might actually be stronger than you are!
In those cases, you’ll want to check out the next exercise option…
A spring pole is a tug of war game that your dog can play on their own! You can set this up on a tree and allow your Pitbull to go nuts!
Pitbulls have been bred to grab and hold with their mouths. Sadly, this behavior was part of their history as bull-baiting dogs and the instinct is still alive in our Pitbulls today. Tug of war and spring poles are great ways for dogs to safely act on these instincts.
Check out this video to see the spring pole in action:
There is a wide range of spring poles on the market and I usually recommend this one from Highlands Farms which you can see on Amazon. Whatever you choose, just make sure it’s strong enough to support your Pitbull!
While their big heads, deep chests, and short legs don’t make them the best swimmers most Pitbulls still enjoy spending some time in the water and it can be a great way for them to get some exercise.
However, I don’t recommend you take your Pitbull to the ocean all of a sudden or let them jump into a lake without some supervision. Pitbulls just aren’t the best swimmers and can quickly wear themselves out. Consider picking up a doggy life jacket and always supervise water time with your Pitbull.
What makes swimming different from many other exercises is that it’s a much lower impact exercise compared to other options. This can be great for older dogs or just a way to add variety and reduce stress on your Pittie’s joints.
Try Adding Trick Training
We’ve already discussed the importance of mental stimulation for your Pitbull and it’s critical to not only train your Pitbull physically but also get them the proper mental stimulation. Adding basic trick training to any form of exercise is a great way to do this.
Even better, you can often use the toy or exercise as a reward! For example, if your dog is eagerly waiting for you to throw the ball or toss the frisbee, you could train them to sit before they get the satisfaction of having you throw the ball. Your Pitbull will quickly learn that they have to sit before the ball gets thrown!
Not only does this give your dog some extra mental stimulation as they have to think about what’s going on, but it’s also a great way to train your Pitbull to be calm and attentive even when they’re excited!
That is, of course, just a quick overview of the process and if you’re interested in learning more about positive reinforcement training for your Pitbull, check out this Youtube video.
Playing With Other Dogs
You don’t have to be the only one that provides interactive exercise with your Pitbull!
You can also rely on a canine playmate to provide some playtime!
Simply having another dog join you and your Pitbull can be a great way to mix up walk time. It will also give your Pitbull plenty of mental stimulation as they spend time exploring with their friend.
You can also bring your Pittbull to a dog park but it’s important not to rush things. A dog park can be an overwhelming experience for any dog and depending on your Pitbull’s level of socialization with other dogs they simply may not be ready. It’s always best to start small and there are plenty of smaller dog parks where your Pitbull can get used to the experience.
While Pitbulls often have a bad reputation for dog aggression, with proper socialization and training they can successfully live and play with other dogs. While a bigger dog usually makes a better playmate, there are dozens of stories of Pitbulls and Chihuahuas becoming best friends.
How Much Exercise Does A Pitbull Puppy Need?
While an adult dog can burn off their 45 minutes to an hour of exercise or so all at once, a puppy will get worn out quickly.
But even more important is the fact that puppies aren’t done growing and too much exercise can cause long-term orthopedic issues. Puppies have growth plates, which are primarily made of cartilage, at the end of long bones that need time to solidify.
Eventually, these growth plates will close and become dense bones but this takes time. While it varies by breed and the individual puppy, this process is usually complete between 1 year and 18 months.
What does this mean for Pitbull puppies?
Veterinarian Georgina Ushi Phillips explains “As a general rule, limit forced exercise for puppies under 18 months to under 10 minutes. Forced exercise means things like running or long hikes without an option to stop. That doesn’t mean puppies can’t exercise for longer than that but they should be able to take breaks.”
In other words, a puppy will still need 45 minutes of exercise (or more) but they shouldn’t be forced outside their comfort zone. And Pitbull puppies will usually let you know when they’re ready for a break by promptly napping and then waking up to chew everything again!
So instead of trying to get your puppy to go for a 6-mile run, give them the chance to run around in the background where they can easily take a break.
How Do Exercise Needs Change As Pitbulls Get Older?
Pitbulls are prone to hip dysplasia and arthritis which gets worse as they get older. Your dog’s overall interest in exercise and energy levels will decrease as they age as well. Involving your veterinarian is always a good idea but you also want to make sure you’re listening to your dog on a day-to-day basis.
Still, Pitbulls of almost any age will enjoy a walk. You can also consider adding in some lower impact exercises like swimming and exploratory walks.
Just like a puppy, you’ll also want to make sure your older dog has a chance to take a break when they’re ready. Forty-five minutes of exercise is usually a good rule of thumb for senior dogs but because every situation is a little different, it’s more difficult to provide hard and fast rules for senior dogs.
While Pitbulls aren’t hyperactive, they’re far from couch potatoes! They do best with forty-five to sixty minutes of exercise a day and there’s an almost endless number of ways for you to make sure your Pittie gets the exercise they need.
As with any other dog, exercise needs are different for puppies and senior canines. Puppies have growth plates that are still setting and older dogs just can’t do what they used to do.
But regardless of age, Pitbulls still need exercise and a walk is almost always a good choice!
What’s your favorite way to exercise your Pitbull?