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Canine Exercise Plan

A canine exercise plan is required by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, United States Department of Agriculture, Animal Welfare Standards, Final Rules (9 CFR Part 3, paragraph 3.8), published in the Federal Register, February 15, 1991. The University of Tennessee-Knoxville plan for the exercise of dogs is:

  1. All dogs over 12 weeks of age housed individually in primary enclosures that provide at least twice the minimum required floor space do not require additional opportunity for exercise.
  2. All dogs over 12 weeks of age housed individually in primary enclosures (cages, pens or runs) that provide less than twice the minimum space requirement1 will be provided an opportunity for exercise regularly by animal facility personnel. This opportunity for exercise will be appropriately documented in the animal’s medical record. This opportunity for exercise will be provided as follows:
    • Dogs will be removed from their pens or runs and given access to open areas for a minimum of 5 minutes at least 3 days a week.
    • If possible, two or more compatible individuals will be released together for a minimum of 5 minutes at least 3 days a week. During this time, positive physical contact2 will be provided to each dog by the individual releasing the animal.
    • Alternatively, dogs may be leash walked twice daily at least 3 days a week, and provided positive contact during this period. Period of each leash walking session will be a minimum of 5 minutes each.
  3. All dogs individually housed in a facility without sensory contact with other dogs will be provided with positive physical contact from animal facility and/or research personnel for at least 20 minutes per day. This positive human interaction will be documented in the animal’s medical record.
  4. Dogs over 12 weeks of age housed in compatible groups do not require additional opportunity for exercise if they are maintained in primary enclosures that provide in total at least 100% of the required space for each dog if maintained separately.
  5. Dogs can be exempted from the above requirements if it is determined to be inappropriate for reasons of health, condition or well-being. All exemptions must be approved and documented in the animals’ medical records by the Attending Veterinarian.3 All exemptions will be reviewed at least every 30 days, unless the reason for exemption is a permanent condition.
  6. Research dogs can be exempted from the above requirements provided the investigator documents the scientific reasons for the exemption in the research proposal and the exemption is approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). Research exemptions must be reviewed annually.

1Required minimum floor space in square inches per dog is determined by calculating the mathematical square of the sum of the length of dog (measured from the tip of its nose to the base of the tail), plus 6 inches. Divide the mathematical square by 144 to obtain required floor space in square feet.

2Positive physical contact is defined as petting, stroking or other positive interaction, which is beneficial to the animal.

3The Attending Veterinarian is defined as a veterinarian, trained or experienced in the care and management of the species being attended, and who has direct or delegated authority for activities involving animals at the facility.


Approved March 10, 1993
Revised/Approved by the Attending Veterinarian
Patricia N. Coan, DVM, Ph.D. 10/12/07

Revised/Approved by the Attending Veterinarian
Patricia N. Coan, DVM, Ph.D. 4/11/12