Boston Terriers are a lively, energetic little breed and they really enjoy playing with their people. Like all of us, exercise should be a part of their daily routine to maintain their weight, mental stimulation, and overall health.
Take note of those flattened little faces though, which are representative of brachycephalic breeds. Shorter snouts have shorter airways, so they aren’t able to take in as much air as other breeds when breathing heavily.
You will want to take this into consideration when beginning any type of exercise with your Boston Terrier.
Understanding Boston Terriers’ Exercise Needs
As a rule, the typical Boston Terrier needs 30 – 60 minutes per day of exercise. However, this can vary depending on your dog’s age and any health conditions he might have.
For example, puppies who are still developing their muscles and bone growth need roughly five minutes per month of age. More than this can cause injury to their growth. Always monitor your puppy and watch for signs of tiredness. If he’s lagging, walk slowly or just return home.
Do you have a senior Boston? Exercise is still good for them, but they need much less exercise as they tire sooner and enjoy their rests more. Like other breeds, Boston Terriers can develop arthritis and they’ll appreciate shorter, slower walks.
Of course, all guidelines are suggestions as every dog is different. Very active Bostons may continue consistent energy levels well into senior adulthood. My 12-year-old boy never slowed down until he got sick with cancer, while his sister started preferring car rides over walks at the age of ten.
Pay attention to your buddy as they age and make changes to their exercise routines as needed.
Types of Exercise Activities for Boston Terriers
Boston Terriers tend to have short bursts of energy, which is good news if you lead a more sedentary life. If you’re more active, there are still plenty of ways to engage with your best friend physically. Bostons tend to be pretty adaptable to what their people want.
Walking is great exercise as it’s accessible to almost everyone and is low impact. Neighborhood walks offer chances for socialization when meeting neighbors, while nature trails give your Boston plenty of new smells and a bit of mental stimulation.
Walks can be adjusted to fit your schedule. Maybe you do a quick 30-minute walk on a Monday afternoon, but you can stretch that to a more leisurely hour on the weekend.
Many dogs enjoy a game of fetch and Bostons are no different. Fetching is a fantastic way to use up those quick bursts of energy that these little guys have, and it can be played indoors or outdoors.
You can use a simple ball or a favorite toy. My little girl, Oona Clare, usually likes to play with her current favorite toy and will bring it to me to start the game.
You’ll know when they’ve had enough when they go lie down in their favorite relaxing spot or just refuse to chase anymore so you’re not likely to overdo it as you would on a long walk.
Fetch time for us usually ends in tug-of-war when Oona decides she has run enough and just wants to show me how strong she is. This game is good for bonding and can also be used for training commands like “drop it” or “leave it.”
Boston Terriers are very bright and love to learn. If your friend seems especially active or inquisitive, agility training might be the answer for you.
Not only is this exercise good for their minds and bodies, but it’s also just fun to watch them run up ramps and race through tunnels.
As the human in this activity, it’s fairly low impact for you and you can take it as far as you want. Build a course in your garage just for fun or enter your little athlete in competitions.
Dog Park and Play Dates
Boston Terriers love to play with other dogs, and a dog park can be a great way for them to get some exercise and social interaction at the same time.
It is important to exercise caution and monitor your Boston’s interaction with other dogs at all times to ensure the safety of both dogs and humans.
If you are uncomfortable with taking your Boston Terrier to a dog park, setting up a play date with a friendly dog you know is also a good option.
Sometimes bad weather prohibits outdoor exercise. Other times you might be just feeling under the weather or have other reasons you can’t get outside for exercise. Not to worry, there are activities that can be done indoors to meet your Boston’s exercise needs.
Behavior training can be done indoors and is a wonderful way to stimulate your dog’s mind and use up energy. Bostons are quick to learn and love to please their people which makes training an opportunity to bond with your pup as well. There really isn’t anything much cuter than a Boston who greets visitors with a high five or shows off with some spins or rolling over.
There are other indoor games you can play to get in a little exercise and fun. My own little girl loves when we play hide and seek. You can teach the “stay” command and then call them to you when you’ve found a good hiding spot. Just finding you is enough of a reward to keep them interested in doing it again.
Can I Take My Boston Terrier Running with Me?
The short answer is yes. I have read about Bostons who really enjoy running with their people, some up to five miles. However, this is not an endurance breed and, while you can condition your dog to run with you, walks and hikes are really much safer for them.
Bostons don’t have long legs so they’re already working harder to keep up with you and your longer strides. As mentioned earlier, brachycephalic breeds have a harder time getting in air because their airways are shorter than other breeds. This can cause overheating in a shorter amount of time.
If you do want to run with your Boston, start with short jogs at a mile or less. Go when the weather is cooler and use a harness because a collar can pull the neck and restrict the airway. Always pay attention to signs of exhaustion and slow down or stop when they need to, not when you want to.
Can Boston Terriers Swim?
The short answer is yes, your Boston Terrier can swim. How well and for how long is another question. They aren’t natural swimmers like other breeds and their small size must also be taken into account.
Bostons can swim about two laps in a standard-size swimming pool. There are a couple of factors that prevent them from making the jump to the Olympic pool. Unlike other breeds made for water, like Labradors, they don’t have webbed feet. This means they must work harder to get through water.
Brachycephalic breeds like Boston Terriers tire out sooner while swimming because of their shortened airways and inability to breathe as deeply.
A life jacket is highly recommended for safety in any water and a definite need if you take your Boston Terrier in a boat. It could save her life in the event of accidentally falling out of the boat.
Always stay with your dog while she’s swimming. Make sure the swimming space is safe, without weeds or debris under the water that she could get caught in. Depending on where you live or what water you’re in, look for snapping turtles, alligators, or other harmful creatures.
Signs Your Boston Terrier Is Being Overworked
It might be hard for you to catch the signs of overexertion if your usually active, energetic friend suddenly starts showing them. If he suddenly starts exhibiting any of the following symptoms, cease the activity at once and let him rest.
- Whining – If your Boston is whining during play, he’s really trying to tell you something and you need to listen.
- Lagging behind – Dogs are natural people-pleasers and will push themselves beyond their limits to keep up with you. If your buddy has slowed down and can’t catch up, he’s had too much.
- Eyes are glazed over – This can indicate that your dog is shutting down and you should watch closely for further symptoms.
- Excessive panting – Panting is part of exercise because it’s how dogs cool themselves down, but if your pup is having a harder time stopping than usual, then you’ve overdone it.
Rest after a hard exercise is just as important for your furry friend as it is for you. If you’ve had a particularly rigorous day or your Boston is getting a little older, pay attention to how they behave in the hours after your session or even the next day.
Do they seem sore? Are they moving differently? Are they less willing to go for another walk? These are all signs they went a little hard and will need more rest and some gentle exercise.
Boston Terriers are one of the most companionable breeds. They truly enjoy play and can be wonderful exercise partners. They love to learn and to please their people and it can be really fun to show off to your friends and family what the two of you have worked on.
They’ll enjoy walking and hiking with you and can even learn to participate in swimming with you. As long as you take care to work within their limitations and prioritize their health, you’ll have an activity partner for many years to come. The two of you will make memories to last a lifetime.