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Pug Exercise


Most dog owners will agree that one of the most enjoyable parts of having a dog is being able to do activities together. Having a walking partner is one of the great benefits of pet ownership.

With the Pug, exercise is an important part of maintaining health while too much exercise can cause a Pug to overheat.

The key is to find a good balance of offering enough activity to stay fit without overtaxing the dog. With obesity being a major concern for this breed, appropriate, safe and proper exercise is an important part of overall care. 

This section is devoted to learning all kinds of fun ways to get your Pug moving without causing health issues such as breathing problems or stress on the joints.


Going for a walk is the most traditional method of offering daily exercise for a dog and studies show that this routine activity makes owners healthier too. By following some easy guidelines, you can take your Pug for walks, knowing that you are allowing him or her to reap the benefits of exercise and do so in a healthy way.
There are several important benefits to walking your Pug:  

1) It helps a Pug maintain muscle tone which helps maintain good posture and allows the muscles surrounding the hips and knees to be strong and supportive.

Since this breed is prone to both luxating patella (slippage of the kneecap) and hip dysplasia (misplacement of the hip joint and socket), this is a relevant benefit.

2) It is good for the heart and reduces the risk of heart disease

3) It revs up metabolism and burns calories, an important exercise benefit for the Pug, a breed that is prone to weight gain and obesity issues.

4) It allows a release of pent up energy, which in turn gives you a more well-behaved dog. Dogs that receive regular outdoor exercise display less destructive behaviors at home.
Pug puppy tired after exercise
Punk - 7 months old
Photo courtesy of owner Miranda Kuney

Guidelines and Requirements

Keeping a routine is helpful for both owner and Pug. When walks are incorporated in the daily schedule, owners are more prone to follow through and dogs, with their incredible inner time clocks, quickly learn to look forward to this time. Weather permitting, there should be at least 1 daily walk of 20 to 30 minutes.

A good alternative to this is 2 shorter daily walks, spaced well apart and lasting 10 to 15 minutes. The benefit to exercising a Pug in shorter intervals is that he can receive a higher amount of exercise over the course of a day, yet will be less prone to overheating since the sessions are kept short.
Here are some tips to keep the walks safe and fun: 

1) Do take this time to teach your Pug to heel. Once this lesson is learned, it always makes walking more enjoyable for both owner and dog. Walking in tandem, without a dog pulling on the leash or stopping every few moments, makes this moderate exercise something to look forward to.

2) If the temperature is over 90 degrees F (32.2 C), it is best to skip that day as this breed will overheat too quickly. Instead, opt for an indoor exercise activity (suggestions are below).

3) During warm to hot weather, head out before 10 AM and/or after 5 PM, avoiding the hottest times of the day.

4) Always bring a collapsible bowl and a chilled water bottle for your Pug. Even if you do not see signs of over-heating, take a break 12/ way through the walk. It is best to rest in the shade, offering a nice break out of the sun and a cold drink of water.

5) Be aware of how hot walking surfaces can become in the summer. Recently, a news story in Nevada focused on the sudden surge of dog owners who obtained doggie shoes for their pets as temperatures soared into the 100's. And doing this saved many dogs from discomfort and/or injury. 

Paws are made of skin, albeit thick skin, and are vulnerable to cuts, scrapes and burns. If your Pug resists outdoor exercise, it just may be that he has an intolerance to the walking surface.

(This is common when dogs are brought out to exercise on the beach...sand particles become stuck between paw pads and the dog resists running around). Paw wax is another great alternative.

6) If want to try out a new route and are not sure if it is too far away, start off slow and work your way up. The last thing you will want to do is tired your Pug out before it is time to turn around and cover the same amount of distance to return home. 
On the first day, you can go half the distance and see how your Pug is doing. Then, with enough shade and water breaks, the next day you can add a bit more distance.
7) Be aware of ground surfaces in the winter. Ice melt chemicals are very damaging paws. Thawing snow can create puddles that are a mixture of these water and these damaging chemicals. Ice, snow and frozen ground surfaces can prevent a dog from having sable traction.

When temperatures drop to below 40 degrees F (4.4 C), a sweater and booties can be just the thing that turns an unenthusiastic Pug into one that is eager for some outside exercise. 

Indoor Exercise and Alternatives to Walking

There are plenty of exercise options for a Pug… These activities will be important especially if the weather outside is too cold, too hot or stormy. While overdoing things can cause issues, it is important that this breed does not remain inactive. 

Here are some ways that you can keep your Pug moving both outside and indoors.
Pug puppy outside on rocks
"Having fun outside"
Photo courtesy of the Caywood Family
1) Dog parks are a great place for a Pug to move around if he is otherwise reluctant at home. For puppies, be sure that your Pug pup has all of his puppy shots before you bring him near other dogs. Interacting with other dogs can motivate a Pug to do some running and playing. Do keep an eye on his breathing and separate him for breaks and re-hydration as needed. Keeping visits to the park to 1 hour is a good time limit.
2) Play Fetch - This doesn't need to be an outdoor activity. If you don't have a big enough room, a hallway works great. Outside in an enclosed yard is fine too. Toss a toy or ball and encourage your Pug to retrieve it and bring it back to you. As your Pug runs for the toy, say "Fetch" and as he brings it back add a "Give" and you've just taught your Pug two important commands!
3) Secure a toy to a safe stick and encourage your Pug to go after it. With full control over how much exertion your Pug needs to give in order to reach the toy, this is a good, controlled type of exercise that can get a Pug dog moving enough to provide exercise without overdoing it.

4) Weather permitting, some Pugs just love to swim. Though the barrel shaped body is not ideal for skimming through water, some do very well in shallow pools and swimming is a good way to stay cool on hot days. In pools, be sure to rinse your dog off afterward to make sure chlorine and pool chemicals are washed from the skin and coat.

A Final Word

Since the Pug breed is prone to weight gain, exercise is an important part of care that keeps the dog's body in good shape, maintaining important muscle mass, keeping the heart healthy and burning calories. Owners are encouraged to make sure their Pug exercises on a daily basis while keeping an eye on any potential breathing problems or health issues
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