Pitbulls or pitties are extremely active dogs. They are of medium size with a stocky build and are known to have plenty of gas to burn.
Being from the terrier family, they need a lot of exercise and mental stimulation to stay healthy and live happy lives.
The amount of exercise your dog needs largely depends on its age. A pitbull puppy, for instance, won’t need to be stimulated and exercised nearly as often as adolescent or adult dogs.
So, how much exercise does your dog need?
Pitbull puppies don’t need much exercise during their development stages. As a general rule, keep them active for 5 - 7 minutes a day for each month of age.
Therefore a three-month-old puppy will need about a 15 - 20 minute light exercise routine a day.
Adult Pitbulls, however, need more attention.
Try to give them about 45 - 60 minutes of exercise each day.
But what about older dogs?
Always seek veterinary advice when formulating an exercise routine for older dogs.
They suffer from different health problems with age, such as hip dysplasia. With this diagnosis, your vet will likely recommend limiting exercise, especially on hard surfaces.
This, however, doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t get any exercise at all. After talking to your vet, stick to the recommended exercise routine and focus on the mental stimulation that will still help your dog keep active.
Here are a few ideas to guide you in setting up your pup's exercise schedule.
Different types of exercise
Just like their human owners, pit bulls need different types of exercise to stay on top of their game. Mental stimulation is just as important for the well-being of these pups as physical exercise.
Here are a few examples of how we can satisfy both needs.
Trick training is a fantastic way to get both you and your dog thinking.
And no, they don’t need to be complicated, over-the-top tricks. A simple command to sit before feeding time is a good start.
Notes the American Kennel Club, tricks are generally “behaviors that can be done for entertainment such as ‘say your prayers,’ physical activity (such as weave poles or spin), or as useful practical skills” (1)
So take the time to help your dog associate different activities, like feeding or snack time, with a trick. It’ll put a smile on your face when they react positively to a hand signal or command.
Another option, perhaps for those with more space in the back yard is to create an obstacle course at home.
Two lawn chairs quickly become a tunnel to run through and a table can be reinvented as a bridge with just a bit of imagination. Your dog will appreciate the mental stimulation of crawling under and jumping over obstacles right there at home.
Another way to give your dog mental exercise is to let them play with puzzle toys. These toys have huge benefits.
They pique a dog's curiosity and help increase its problem-solving skills.
Make it as easy as possible for your dog in the beginning. Help them figure things out once or twice and gradually let them take over the thinking part of the exercise so that they don’t get frustrated and give up.
Pit bulls are very clever dogs and shouldn’t have a problem with most types of puzzle toys.
Getting your dog into a regular exercise routine is a great way to help them get rid of their excess energy. Pit bulls love going on daily walks with their owners and stopping at parks where they can enjoy large open spaces.
Keep a walking harness or leash close to the front door and combine trick training with daily walks. Think about asking them to fetch their leash each time you get ready for a walk, and you’ll see them light up with excitement.
If you simply don’t have the time to go for a walk, consider some activities you can do around the house with them.
Dogs have a natural need to be helpful to their owners. So they love playing fetch and seeing the approval on their owner's faces.
Buy a chewy toy like a rubber ball and play fetch with your dog in the backyard or the park as often as possible.
Adult pit bulls are strong dogs and love to test their strength against other dogs or their owners. So consider a simple exercise like tug of war.
Tug of war
There are some do’s and don’ts when playing tug with your pitbull:
Rule #1 You must be in command
Pit bulls have an instinct to be assertive and can sometimes become aggressive.
Playing tug with them doesn’t have to bring out internal aggression. When you decide to play tug with them, you need to have a start and stoppage time, controlling the game's pace throughout.
This way, you’ll be able to keep their emotions under control with this game and show them that you’re the alpha male.
Rule #2 Stay in control of the movements
Your pit bull can get very excited with a game like this, and the forceful up-and-down movement of its head could potentially hurt its neck and spine.
So don’t let your dog thrash out and tug the object wildly out of control. This exercise is intended to improve their strength, not harness their instinctive ripping nature.
Rule #3 Mind your hands!
A family dog is unlikely to bite its owners, but accidents occur. So place your hands carefully, not getting too close to their muzzle and thus avoiding a nasty bite.
If you have children, they’ll likely imitate what you’re doing and you don’t want to set a bad example for them, especially if they’re around your pit bull unsupervised from time to time.
That said, choose a chewy object, like a thick rope or purpose-made tug-of-war toy, that won’t hurt your dog's teeth, and enjoy this exercise with your kids.