Do Boston Terriers Need A Lot of Exercise?

One look into your Boston Terrier’s playful eyes and you know he is ready for anything.  That is if you can get him to hold still long enough to look into those eyes. With very little observation, you will note that Boston Terriers are not couch potato dogs. They are bright and bouncy and can be prone to mischief and obesity if not allowed to burn some of that energy off every day.  

However, Boston Terriers are also small dogs, so maybe not the best choice to be your marathon running partner.  Where is that Goldilocks-just-right amount? Keep reading to see if you’re giving your Boston terrier the right kind and amount of exercise to keep him mentally and physically healthy.

Do Boston Terriers Need A Lot of Exercise? Boston Terrier. Boston Terrier Society.
Bella and Emily doing some Yoga.

How much exercise do Boston Terriers need?

Most Boston Terriers will need 30-60 minutes of exercise per day. The activity can be as simple as a walk or run per day.

How long to work out your Boston

Given their size and personality, Boston Terriers are a great fit for indoor life. They don’t require a lot of space, but they do require movement every day. How much movement depends on each individual dog and can vary from a trip around the block to running a 10K.  

As a general rule, most Bostons require 30-60 minutes of exercise per day. This means every day. Don’t think you can sneak 60 minutes in one day and none the next. This exercise is necessary to not only keep your Boston Terrier from bouncing off the walls, but they also need it to be in a healthy emotional state like humans. 

Your personal judgment

Use your best judgment when trying to decide if your Boston is getting enough exercise.  

Is he starting to wear out after 30 minutes of fetch or does he still want more after you’ve covered 3 miles? 

Is he ready for a nap immediately following the activity, or is he looking for more toys?  

Do you come home to a house of mass destruction, or has he behaved himself all day while you’re away?  

You may also find that your Boston prefers one type of exercise over others. For example, he may swim for 45 minutes but only want to run for 15 minutes. It never hurts to switch things up to help keep your pup and you interested in the activity.

What are good exercises for Boston Terriers?

Chances are you know how much your pup just likes to be with you. Given that and a Boston’s overall happy demeanor, they’re game for any, activity you want to provide them. Get creative when it comes to exercising your Boston terrier. It doesn’t all have to be going for walks or runs.  

In fact, given a Boston terrier’s brachycephalic facial configuration, they actually do better with short burst-type activities.


Of course, what pup doesn’t love to fetch?  This easy game is excellent even if you only have a couple of minutes at a time to play.  Grab your Boston’s favorite toy and soak up some outside time with a quick game of fetch. 

You can make the game of fetching more difficult by having your dog retrieve the toy from around obstacles. For instance, your pup might have to go around the bushes and through the deck chairs to get to the toy.


This works with you or with a treat and takes relatively little space to play. Start off easy by showing your Boston the treat and then letting them see where you hide it. Once they find it with consistency, you can increase the difficulty. Move it outside for even more fun.  

If your pup isn’t as food motivated as some (I don’t see how that would be possible, but maybe there is a Boston who is not food motivated out there), hide yourself or another family member instead.  The reward when they find you may be better than any small piece of food!


This classic game doesn’t take any outdoor space at all. You just need a small area and a durable toy. You’d be surprised how much energy a Boston can burn trying to pull a toy away from you. You’ll also be surprised how strong those little dogs are! Be sure your toy is durable enough so that teeth don’t get caught during the struggle.

Sprinkler Running

Not just for kids anymore! Most dogs like water, especially in the heat of the summer. If you’re not near a good swimming spot, setting up a sprinkler is a great substitute. You can play fetch through the sprinkler or just let them run through it at will.

Walks and Runs

Don’t underestimate a pleasant scenic walk. While you probably don’t want it to be the only exercise your Boston Terrier gets all day, a walk or run is still a great way to keep us all healthy. 

Try to vary your routes every day, so your dog gets some new views, different distances, and a change of terrain. 

Running is also good, just make sure you’re not overdoing it for your Boston as distance running can be hard on their respiratory system.


A great low impact activity, swimming is especially suitable for those dogs with arthritis or other mobility issues.  Just be sure your dog is in a shallow enough water that if he gets tired, you can stop and rest comfortably.


Though they don’t look like the Australian Shepherds or other dogs that most of us consider the ‘agility dogs,’ Bostons can still get it done. Agility is excellent for quick exercise sessions that work the mind as well as the body.

So, what activities to choose?

All the activities listed above are great! Whichever activities you choose, it is essential to recognize that most Boston Terriers aren’t going to do it alone. Don’t expect to kick your pooch out in the backyard and have her play all by herself. She probably won’t leave the back step. Instead, get yourself and others involved. If this isn’t a possibility, then look into interactive toys that will keep her going physically and mentally.

When exercising your Boston Terrier

As I hit on briefly above, Boston Terriers are a brachycephalic breed. This basically means they have a smushed-in face. While this gives them that sweet face that we all adore, it also can create some real problems when your Boston is trying to breathe. 

Since big, deep breathes are a considerable component of proper exercise, you may notice that your Boston just doesn’t have the stamina of a Border Collie or Golden Retriever. That is why short, frequent exercise periods generally work better. If your Boston does well with 60 minutes of exercise per day, try to break that up into three or four sessions rather than one marathon.

Observe frequently

If you do have a Boston terrier that just can’t log enough miles in their running shoes, be sure to watch them closely. You will need to look for signs of fatigue. Be ready to stop at the first sign of sluggishness or when their tongue is dragging between their front legs.  Offer frequent breaks to allow your dog to catch their breath and try to mix it up, so you’re not doing the hard stuff every day.

Heat & Humidity

Heat and humidity take their toll on everyone, especially Boston Terriers. If your Boston is usually an outside activity kind of dog, you might need to modify some of those exercises to be done inside on days that it’s too hot or humid. Humidity especially makes it harder for a dog that already has trouble breathing.

Do Boston Terriers Make Good Running Companions?

I think most pet parents that run picture themselves with their dog beside them, braving the trails together. It’s a great picture, but one that your Boston Terrier might not fit into. Don’t get me wrong, Bostons can make excellent running companions but maybe better for those weekend warriors and not the serious runner. The reason behind this is, again, the brachycephalic syndrome that Bostons suffer from can make breathing difficult, especially during those endurance activities.

That’s not to say there aren’t some Boston Terriers that thrive as runners. Just check out the YouTube video of Ruby, who is ‘obsessed with running long distance.’ It can be done, but with the brachycephalic issues aside, let’s not forget that a Boston terrier has to take a lot of steps every time you run just one. However, with the proper conditioning and a watchful eye, a Boston terrier can accompany you for five miles or even a little bit more.

Final thoughts…

Boston Terriers are fun little companions for any pet parent but especially for those that like to get down and dirty in a rough and tumble game of tug-a-war or fetch. While they don’t require a considerable amount of exercise per day, Boston Terriers need to stretch their legs for short but multiple activity sessions.  

The activity doesn’t have to be intense, but it does need to be enough to work their muscles and their mind, so your dog doesn’t work over your couch or leave a mess on your floor. If you can get involved in the exercise, the better it will be for both of you. Don’t view exercising your Boston as a Honey-Do to check off a list each day, instead, look at it as time well spent with your best friend.


Donnie Gardner

Donnie Gardner is the owner of the Boston Terrier Society. He has been raising Bella the Boston since 2010. He resides in Kansas with his wife, daughter, and Bella. His favorite activities are hanging out with family, traveling, running (but has bad knees), and reading non-fiction books.

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