“He doesn’t need so much exercise, he’s only a (insert dog breed in here).”
Dogs who are very small or are very large, like some of the giant breeds, are often promoted as not requiring much exercise. The question is, though, compared to what?
I did Discover Dogs at Crufts with our big girl, Kitty, for five years during her life. For any of you who don’t know, Discover Dogs is run twice a year by the Kennel Club in the UK, once in March as part of Crufts, and again in November at Earl’s Court. It is an opportunity for breed clubs to educate the public about their individual breeds. I often heard from people attending that Neapolitan’s didn’t need much exercise. I would counter that by saying that they don’t compared to border collies and springer spaniels but they still need to get out for their run and walk. A fellow who was manning the Dogue de Bordeaux stand one year told me that you can’t exercise young Dogue’s at all until they are 18-24 months old. His dogs would potter around the garden all day and get out for short walks a few times a week. You shouldn’t over exercise them to protect their joints but an young dog who isn’t getting the necessary amount of daily exercise out of the house will go stir crazy making it difficult to live with.
I’m working with a young man, Steven, just now who has a Shiba Inu. Shiba’s are a Japanese breed which were used to hunt small game.Steven called me because his dog, Xande, was stealing his things, running away with them and growling when Stephen tried to get them back. Steven had been told by the breeder that the dog’s don’t need much exercise. The breeder didn’t tell Steven how much “not much” is so Steven thought that taking his dog out for two twenty minute walks a day would be enough. After taking a short history, I recommended that Xande should be taken out for a walk in the morning to do the toilet and that his evening walk should be at least 45 minutes, consisting of on lead walking and off leash running and playing interspersed with training opportunities throughout. 45 minutes was my minimum recommendation, but an hour or an hour and a fifteen minutes would be better.
Small dogs like the toy breeds need out for their daily walk as much as the larger breed do and the giant breeds like mastiffs and St Bernards need at least 40 minutes of continuous exercise daily. This can be at a slow pace, and doesn’t need to be 40 minutes of marching or running around the park. If you have a large breed, keep him very light until he/she is at least 2-3 years old to minimise impact on forming bones so they can get the amount of exercise they need. Freedom of movement around the house and garden isn’t the same as exercise. Dogs need out to explore the world, sniff where other dogs have been and peed and for their own physical and mental health and social development.
If your dog has the required amount of daily exercise, she will be happier and more content in the house and easier to train.