Finding the Right Dog 3 – Lifestyle Issues – Exercise Requirements

Exercise Requirements

Dogs need exercise. You will find some dogs who are couch potatoes and whose behavior is not as notably different if they have not gotten exercise but these will often be the ones you have to put on a diet and try to exercise or they will get fat. I believe that every dog should be able to fetch. I believe this because it allows me to exercise a dog while sitting in one place. I confess I have become a very sedentary human. Java does not fetch but he “touches”. He will touch his nose to a target stick. This too allows me to exercise him without a whole lot of movement on my part. Java is 4 ½ pounds and it does not take a tremendous amount of time to exercise him.

I still have fantasies of owning a big dog but I probably will not get one because it is unlikely that I would ever provide it with enough exercise. (Opening the back door to the fenced yard is NOT exercising your dog. I wish it were, but it’s not.)

My very hardworking neighbor has come home every night for the past 10 years and played fetch or Frisbee with one or two golden retrievers for a good 45 minutes regardless of how tired he’s been or what the weather is. That is a good dog owner.

No, you cannot leave this to the kids, no matter how many times they promise they will do it. It needs to be done and you are ultimately responsible when the kids don’t come through.

It can be very hard to guess how much exercise a potential rescue dog might need when we can’t even always tell what breed they are and even if we know the breed, there is a pretty wide range of personal differences within breeds. This is where good shelter workers can make a huge difference in your selection. If they know the dogs temperament they can be a huge help to you in selecting a dog. (More on this later in this series on Where to Find Your Adult Dog.)

In a perfect world we would probably provide a 45 minute walk twice a day to average dogs and an appropriately shorter walk for the little ones or older ones. Some dogs will be terrors if they do not get enough exercise. (Lab puppies are notorious for this even though they are pretty mellow as adult dogs.) This walk is tremendously beneficial to us also as we all know. It is wonderful when we can do this with our dogs and if you can make yourself do it you will feel good. I did this for some years but I am realistic in knowing that I would not do it now. If you are going to get a dog you need to commit to providing appropriate exercise. (I admit I know people who exercise their dogs on treadmills. If this works for you and your dog, more power to you.)

If you get a small dog because you don’t want to have to provide a lot of exercise beware of terriers. Although not all dogs adhere to breed standards and many of the dogs you’ll be looking at are mixed breeds terriers can be terrors. They often need a good deal of exercise and they can be very stubborn. Do not mistake the small sized terriers for a dog who is automatically a lap dog. All of the terriers were bred to be ratters or chase some other type of vermin and sometimes to fight it to the death. Their personalities often reflect this. They can be very hard to train and they can be perpetual motion machines. Please don’t let me scare you into overlooking a terrific terrier but do get all possible information from the shelter about the dog’s traits.

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