They’re built like athletes and lounge around like sloths, but one of the biggest misconceptions about whippets is how much exercise they need.
The PDSA says a minimum of 1 hour is plenty for an adult whippet to keep them fit and healthy. But what kind of exercise and stimulation do they require daily?
We spoke with accredited Canine Behaviourist, Rachael Claire and *polled the whippet-owning community of Instagram to get some definitive answers - spoiler, it takes more than just an off lead run to meet your whippet’s daily needs.
How much exercise does your whippet need daily?
‘On average, Whippets need at least an hour a day which includes aerobic exercise’
‘This means a chance to run and get their heart rate up, not just a pavement walk on a short lead. Most sighthounds are happy with a quick blast off lead.’
We know dogs process information through their noses. It’s important to make time for them to engage their brains in this way on a daily basis. Scent walks and allowing your dog to explore at their own pace is key for wellbeing.
Less than 1 hour - 37% | 1-2 hours - 54.5% | 2-3 hours - 7.5% | 3 hours + - 1%
*589 responded to question one.
How long do you walk your adult whippet for each day?
‘The walk is for your whippet at the end of the day so we should be letting them choose how they spend it.’
‘Forest walks are great for scent tracking as there will be prey animals around. Beach walks are great for building confidence around water and exploring different scents. And open fields are often best for off-lead time as there is generally less for them to become distracted by. Exercise is arguably not as important as mental stimulation but enrichment is often a very overlooked part of a dog’s daily routine.’
‘The vast majority of dogs with behavioural issues have a lack of mental stimulation and enrichment in their lives’
‘Sniff walks are fantastic for burning energy and encouraging calm behaviours. Sniffing causes the release of lots of calming and happy hormones and reduces heart and breathing rate which is highly beneficial for anxious or high energy dogs. It is always useful to end a walk with sniffing to ensure that your Whippet returns home in a calm state of mind.’
Less than 1 hour - 30.9% | 1-2 hours 62.1% | 2-3 hours 5.7% | 3 hours + 1.3%
*612 responded to question two.
How much of your walk is off- lead?
‘For your whippet, the number of steps doesn’t matter!’
‘Whippets don’t need as much running time as is often thought. Lots of fast running can also cause damage to joints and over-arousal so a mix of sniff walks on a long lead and some controlled off-lead time is best.’
A dog walk is there to provide stimulation and to keep them physically healthy and mentally satisfied. It’s important to bear in mind that different dogs have different needs and different expectations of a walk. If you’re aware that your dog isn’t satisfied after a long run, perhaps it might be time to try an enrichment walk instead.
Less than 1 hour - 65.5% | 1-2 hours 31.3 % | 2-3 hours 2% | 3 hours + 1%
*595 responded to question three. (612 whippet owners entered our Instagram poll in total)
What does a perfect whippet walk look like?
It's advised that a 1.5-2 hour walk is ideal for a whippet and their humans' mental and physical health.
- Lead walking with lots of sniffing. Breath in some fresh air
- Allowing your whippet to choose where to stop and how long for
- Off lead play with ball, frisbee or friends
- Sniff some butts
- A zoom and get that heart rate up
- Practice recall with high value treats
- Walk home satisfied
- Have a chew toy upon arrival home to decompress
Daily enrichment ideas
- After walk long lasting chew from JR Pet Products
- Hide & Treat game - Ask your whippet to stay, hide treats around your home, release whippet and encourage them to seek out treats. Seymour loves this game!
- Natural rubber treat toy for independent play
Our sighthound resource guest was Rachael Claire an accredited Canine Behaviourist. She has a BSc (Hons) in Animal Behaviour, is a qualified Separation Anxiety Pro Trainer and lives with her rescue podenco, Pablo in Lancashire. She very kindly contributed her knowledge to this resource, we hope you have taken something away from it. You can find more from Rachael here.