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How much exercise does a dog need everyday - and how we make time for that!

 Reviewed 6 April 2019 share-a-picture Or go to discussion?join-the-discussion dogphoto
 
dog-sport-how-much-exercise-does-a-dog-need-everyday

==> Life-enhancing factor No. 2: The right exercise!

How to fit your dog's exercise needs into today's "have no time" lifestyle choices

1-2-3Exactly 50 Periodicals ago (fifty Periodicals ago, yes!) you received our Periodical GSD Life Extender No 1. Now let's continue in that spirit and discuss today life-enhancing factor No 2:

The right exercise for the individual dog!

And another 50 Periodicals later we may have a slot to send you life-enhancing factor No 3.

Nooo, don't you worry! Let's take a shortcut: you'll get that next week or so. grin

If you then implement all three life-enhancing factors, your dog should be sharing a happy life with you through to age 72 and older, according to the LeBeau scale.

AND: you won't need to share your bank account with your vet! eek

How cool is that???

Spiritual Intro

i-dont-have-time excuseSo, you got no time for as much exercise as your dog needs?

Guess what, neither do I.

Fact is: you've got 24 hours in a day.

Surprise, so do I.

You got family commitments, work commitments and personal problems? - Welcome to the club. neutral

find a wayBut how comes that I can still take time out to prepare sophisticated MYGERMANSHEPHERD PERIODICALS to help you with your dog?

It's because I want it. Because I choose to miss out on other things. Like you choose to miss out on certain things too. Just different ones. I am thinking of Tim's Dog Expert Interview Series, indeed.

It really is your own exercise if you always find an excuse in life:

There are things in life that cost us money

There are things in life that save us money

There are things in life that make us money

Pretty much everything in life that makes us money first costs us a little bit to start it.

And very very few things in life save us so much money that in fact we need to make less money.

Or if we make the same, we can put aside more.

The Dog Expert Interviews with Reviews are such thing. I've made them that way to save you years of working to make the money to pay for dog health, dog care, and dog training. idea

Speaking of training, some training tips in there save you hundreds of dollars each (proof inside). Over the dog's lifetime, thousands of dollars. And the health tips in there save you another thousands of dollars. Plus, the life of your dog.

You just need to apply what you get.

Life is about choices

What are yours?

Make sure tomorrow you'll still be happy with the choices you make today. Okay?

 

Knowing why we are doing what we are doing, and knowing why we are not doing what we are not doing, allows us to change what we want to change.

And the way we want to change it.

While anything else will take us further away from what we want.

Makes sense?

have adapted to people:

(End of Spiritual Intro)

How to assess your dog's exercise needs

And how much exercise does a German Shepherd Dog need anyway? Or an Alsatian if you prefer. Or basically, any mid-size herding dog.

Obviously, this depends a lot on WHAT exercise our dog is getting. But here is a more complete list of factors that determine a dog's exercise needs in order to stay healthy, calm, and balanced!

  1. dog's health
  2. dog's fitness
  3. dog's weight
  4. dog's age
  5. climate zone and weather
  6. and for unspayed females the heat cycle too

You notice that with this list we outright combine the minimum exercise requirement (needs at least) with the maximum of healthy exercise for the particular dog (needs no more than). We can't speak of "ideal exercise amount" though because, like I said, the right amount depends on WHAT type of exercise the dog is getting. Our unique GSD Online Health Profile considers factors 3 and 4 when you input your dog's data.

Factors 1, 2, and 3 are both factors and outcome: Obviously, the better your dog's exercise regime the healthier and fitter the dog and the lower the dog's weight, ceteris paribus (ie subject to all other factors being equal) - and then you won't get the dreaded "Obese - Enormous health risks!" result in our GSD Online Health Profile. razz

As a factor (review the list above), note that:

  1. When your dog is sick, the dog's exercise needs are minimal: Energy should be reserved for recovery, and thus exercise should then be limited to a) allowing elimination, b) avoiding boredom, and c) preventing cardiovascular, respiratory and hematological complications from inactivity.
  2. When your dog is not used to exercise (other than plain dog walks), start slowly, like you would for yourself - do not risk cardiovascular or musculoskeletal complications from overactivity.
  3. obese dogWhen your dog is underweight, the dog has little in energy reserves, so you must keep exercise sessions shorter; when your dog is overweight, the cardiovascular system has to work overtime even under rest, so you must avoid heavy exercise.
  4. When a German Shepherd is under 12 months or over 9 years of age, make sure to follow the guidance in our GSD Online Health Profile, ie limit both amount and type of exercise (see below).
  5. If you live in hot or humid climate, get used to regularly recording your dog's heartrate and breathrate under rest and run to prevent heat illnesses (from cramps up to and including heat stroke!)*
  6. If you have a female dog in heat (and obviously when pregnant all the more), limit both amount and type of exercise (see below).

* Note that domesticated dogs have adapted to people: Most of them feel most comfortable when air temperature is between 20C and 27C (68F to 81F) and relative humidity between 40% to 65% (a hygrometer is a great item to own, we have several, in different places).

In order to stay healthy, calm, and balanced, all dogs including the tiny Chihuahua need both mental exercise and physical exercise, and both forms must involve all senses, and the physical exercise must involve all muscles.

find a waySometimes we may be able to combine some form of mental exercise with some form of physical exercise (if we make adjustments), but normally we must set aside dedicated time for each of these, and for the subcategories within. And that's actually an advantage: It gives ourselves the chance to rest a bit while our dog is exercising. Meaning, we can provide our GSD the (massive!) exercise such dog breed needs, but we don't need to match it with exercising ourselves as much, and at the same time. smile

Note that the variety is as important as the amount of exercise. Meaning, with a German Shepherd we cannot confine say, to a 10 hr dog walk every day (even if we have the time for that), or 30 min swimming every day (even if we have a pool), or 1 hr treat toy "search & rescue" session every day (even if the toy is as mentally stimulating as Nina Ottosson's Dog Tornado). We really must go for variety!

Besides 1) amount and 2) variety, 3) the intensity of exercise is an equally important consideration. Further to list point 4 above (dog's age), if for the next minute (only) we leave exercise variety aside, this is what I feel a German Shepherd needs in terms of exercise amount and intensity, in order to stay healthy, calm, and balanced:

  • age <12w: only gentle dog walks (to relieve every hour or 2 hours max!), gentle play; avoid jumping!
  • 3 - 4.5m: brisk dog walks fine (four 10-min stretches a day, plus relieve walks), gentle play; avoid jumping!
  • 4.5 - 6m: vigorous dog walks (three or four 30-min stretches a day, plus relieve walks), normal play; avoid jumping!
  • 6 - 9m: short runs next to bike (three a day), intense play, and gentle jumping fine
  • 9 - 12m: stretches of up to 10 min next to bike (5 or 6 stretches/day) and intense play fine; still gentle jumping!
  • 1y - 9y: in line with fitness level, progressively more running (build up to 2 hrs min!), vigorous play, and normal jumping fine *
  • >9ys: reduce intensity and amount) of exercise each year in line with fitness level - but maintain variety!

* Meaning, even if you have a couch dog at the moment(??), in order to stay healthy, calm, and balanced an adult German Shepherd you must build up to at least 2 hrs of heavy exercise a day (ie in addition to dog walks). If you don't do that but you complain about "dog problems", don't ask me or anyone else for help - because then that's all you need to do. grin

Obviously, a quick summary like the above is merely scratching the surface of the exercise needs of a German Shepherd Dog or other mid-size herding dog. I've only put it here for the benefit of those who won't make it to the nuggets of this Periodical.

What exercise is suitable for both dog and owner?

I have summarized for you the answer to this question in one of those ingenious sports graphics:

dog-sport-how-much-exercise-does-a-dog-need-everyday

Before we start planning an exercise regime for our GSD (and possibly for ourselves), it's good to develop some sense of what exercise is suitable for dog and owner together, and what exercise we cannot share with the dog (even if we wish to perform it ourselves nonetheless).

So first, here's a list of forms of exercise that - admittedly in general - we cannot share with the dog:

  • Teamsports that involve a ball (from football to squash, and all in between), because the other players will feel disturbed if we bring our dog along
  • Sports on dedicated sports grounds (municipal or private: track, pool, court)
  • Sports that are no sports (be honest!), eg chess, remote-control piloting, cherry-pit spitting, etc

What, that's it? I think so, yes. Everything else can be shared with our dog. But do share your own experience below.


Next, a list of the forms of exercise that are ideal to share with the dog:

  • hiking
  • jogging
  • cycling
  • rollerblading
  • beach- or lake-swimming: swimming together (where dog allowed)
  • pool games (dog goes swimming, we don't)
  • stick, floppy-disc or ball throwing
  • racing (for an item or to a goal; headstart is fine)
  • tug of war
  • find games (item or person)
  • broad/long jumps
  • most agility exercises

Finally, some exercise that may seem unsuitable but indeed can be shared with the dog - we just may need to make one or two adjustments:

  • Beach volleyball and other ball sports on public grounds: if the other players don't mind
  • Outdoor badminton and other racket sports: dog collects shuttle/ball, trained to use lips only

Don't look at the problems when you can look for solutions!

How true. Again, share your own experience below: Aim to benefit others, like they and I aim to benefit you. We do!

Drafting an exercise plan

Now let's move on to the exercise plan itself. As with everything else in life:

A simple plan makes things easier, quicker, and more joyful!

So, let's plan out a good variety of mental exercise sessions that involve all senses, and combine that with a sensible amount and good variety of physical exercise sessions that involve all senses and all muscles. And all of this within the budget of the time-strapped modern dog owner.

While intensity I already indicated above - and if you think about it, for something so subjective, an indication is all I could possibly give.

Since not all time-strapped modern dog owners are the same - eg I've always been outside the accepted average lol - let's take this even a step further and differentiate between what all time-strapped modern dog owners differ in: their activity level, yes!

Just look how much your fellow subscriber (and site member) snickiesowner participates in comment box discussions under the Periodicals (and how many books she has reviewed oops but that's yet another story), and then notice how content and competent she is, and BANG! you know exactly the importance of activity level. razz

Never forget:
Life is not about what we know,
life is about what we do!

Dog exercise regime for the active dog owner

active dog ownerIf you are the sporty type of person, then likely because you enjoy to exercise (else because you want to be sporty because you know it benefits your health). In this case you will have developed a certain routine as regards which exercise you share with your GSD, and which exercise you perform without the dog. While some sports we really cannot do together with the dog, you will find that a lot we can do together with the dog if only we want (see above). We may just need to make one or two adjustments to our routine.

In fact, some sports I always found boring when done alone (particularly jogging and weight-lifting!), and so when I knew no one, I made use of the time to do some work - in my mind, yes. You can do the same, engaging your brain, while you physically exercise. It is a unique experience(!), and if done successfully you will often find that you exercised much more than you thought you could - and on top if it, you finished a project or you solved your kid's homework math questions or whatever (in your mind, but you can jot down some notes later, or better even, you auto-dictate notes while you exercise). In any case, I found that exercising together with the dog takes the boredom out of solitary sports.

Note that the subsequent GSD exercise regime for the active but time-strapped dog owner is just a simple EXAMPLE (as I can't know what exercise you enjoy, since you never left any feedback). You simply need to replace the exercise types with what you enjoy more, and then adjust amount and intensity to match your dog's exercise needs (and possibly your own) as per above.

EXAMPLE exercise regime for the active dog owner

  • 6 - 6.30 h: getting up
  • relieving, then 1 hr heavy physical exercise, like running next to bike (obviously with stretches of walking as breaks!)
  • while getting ready for work, the dog's metabolism can calm down (at least 1 hr!, see under When to feed your GSD)
  • then serving a morning meal (breakfast) in line with our renowned Feeding Routine!
  • short stroll to relieve
  • 8.30 - 9 h: off to work (dog left with free run of the house because (s)he is fully house-trained), do NOT lock the dog away!!! eek
  • 12.30 - 13 h: briefly back home, because someone got to look after the dog(!) - else get a house-trained robot dog wink
  • relieving, then 1 hr jogging with the dog
  • 13.30 - 14 h: back to work (remember, dog has free run of the house because (s)he is fully house-trained)
  • 17 - 17.30 h: getting home
  • relieving, then you winding down from work while doing house chores (remember, you are the active dog owner smile )
  • 30 min cycling or jogging to a place where you can swim with the dog, 20 min swimming, then 30 min cycling or jogging back
  • you preparing dinner while dog's metabolism is calming down (at least 1 hr!)
  • serving an evening meal (dinner) per Feeding Routine
  • then 30 - 60 min socializing during mental exercise (indoor games or outdoor games)
  • checking if family still intact with such busy lifestyle?! lol
  • 22.30 - 23 h: last dog walk to relieve, and off to bed! (no activity in bed despite being the active dog owner)

Notes

  • This simple EXAMPLE exercise regime applies to the adult GSD only. With a puppy you cannot do this (needs more walks to relieve, more socialization, etc) - for details see the Puppy Development Guide - Puppy 101
  • Drinking water has to be accessable all the time, day and night
  • It will take a couple of weeks before the dog's metabolism and gastro-instestinal tract adapt to your schedule. Until then, your dog is unlikely to be able to relieve according to your schedule! So, please give your dog time to adapt.
  • The more time-strapped you are, the better the dog food must be: If your GSD doesn't get natural, balanced homemade food (cooked on the weekend and frozen, then taken out for the day) but commercial processed food (kibble/ tin food), then the ensuing health issues will not allow you to maintain this busy lifestyle, because you will be spending too much time at the vet, and trying to solve your dog's health issues, and trying to earn the money to pay for those needless vet visits! This I can guarantee in writing - and so I just did. wink
  • You notice: It's VERY tough to have a GSD when you are alone (namely to fit enough physical exercise into the daily schedule), and it requires a lot of flexibility at work! All is much easier to arrange when with a partner or in a family, because then you can share the dog responsibilities (like you would share the responsibilities in caring for a child).

Dog exercise regime for the sluggish dog owner

Remember:
Life is not about what we know,
life is about what we do!

dog treadmill

The first GSD exercise regime above will only suit few of our subscribers here, I know. The majority will want to consider themselves sluggish or unsporty, or they believe they are "even more time-strapped!" (which always is an excuse, not a reason for inactivity).

So, what can we do for you, such that you can do the right thing for your dog? Namely, a good variety of daily exercise, with the amount and intensity reflecting all 6 factors listed above.

EXAMPLE exercise regime for the sluggish dog owner

  • 6 - 6.30 h: getting up
  • relieving, then 1 hr physical playtime for the dog: fetch and retrieve (good for relationship building while the dog gets exercise)
  • while getting ready for work, the dog's metabolism can calm down (at least 1 hr!, see under When to feed your GSD)
  • then serving a morning meal (breakfast) in line with our renowned Feeding Routine!
  • short stroll to relieve
  • 8.30 - 9 h: off to work (dog left with free run of the house because (s)he is fully house-trained), do NOT lock the dog away!!! eek
  • 12.30 - 13 h: briefly back home, because someone got to look after the dog(!) - else get a house-trained robot dog wink
  • relieving, then for 30 min you standing still (or sitting down) and eg swinging the Tail Teaser in an "8" all around you for the dog to try to catch the tail (throwing the Floppy Disc also is very undemanding but you need much more space)
  • 13.30 - 14 h: back to work (remember, dog has free run of the house because (s)he is fully house-trained)
  • 17 - 17.30 h: getting home
  • relieving, then you winding down from work (no house chores - remember, you are the sluggish dog owner smile )
  • 1 hr brisk dog walk while throwing say the Chuckit ball for the dog to catch and bring to you
  • you watching TV while dog's metabolism calming down (at least 1 hr!), and spouse making dinner
  • serving an evening meal (dinner) per Feeding Routine
  • then you sitting down on floor and playing some mental exercise games with dog which are undemanding for yourself (eg spouse has hidden some treats for the dog in Nina Ottosson's wooden dog puzzle toys)*
  • 22.30 - 23 h: last dog walk to relieve, and off to bed!

* If your dog only goes for treat puzzle toys, you may need to reduce the amount of dinner, or your dog is full and not interested. wink

Notes

Same as here

So where is variety? That was here, and much more was under Dog Games Categories and further variety was under Indoor Games.

Dog exercise regime for the I-shouldn't-have-a-dog owner

Note: It's not about whether you know you shouldn't have a GSD, it's about what you do now that you have one! wink

unsuitable dog ownerSo you scrolled straight down here? Hm, okay then!

EXAMPLE exercise regime for the I-shouldn't-have-a-dog owner

  • 7.30 h: getting up
  • relieving during 45 min dog walk, of which first half is brisk walking
  • you getting ready for work
  • serving a morning meal (breakfast) in line with our renowned Feeding Routine!
  • short stroll to relieve
  • 9 h: off to work (dog left with free run of the house because (s)he is fully house-trained), do NOT lock the dog away!!! eek
  • 13 h: briefly back home, because someone got to look after the dog(!) - else get a house-trained robot dog wink
  • relieving, then you sitting down on terrace and rolling the Varsity Ball for the dog, hoping the dog will play on its own
  • you getting pissed-off because dog not playing on its own (reason: dog rarely gets a chance to interact with you, and now obviously is eager to catch up on some social interaction!)
  • so, once a while you getting up from chair, going after Varsity Ball yourself and rolling it further away (while muttering mean words at your dog)
  • 14 h: annoyed from dog's inactivity, you let dog relieve one more time (dog annoyed of you too, and so pees on your Varsity Ball cool ) and then you're off to work again (but remember: dog has free run of the house because (s)he is fully house-trained!)
  • 17.30 h: getting home
  • relieving, then you sitting down in TV armchair with beer bottle in hand, to wind down from work (no house chores, someone will probably do it at some point - you just need to let it pile up enough)
  • when TV program getting boring, you notice dog is eyeing you in your arm-chair; you starting to feel slight remorse and taking dog for 1 hr brisk walk to the pub/gin mill, and back more slowly
  • on a good day, you might even be taking the Chuckit ball with you, and a few times you absentmindedly throw it for the dog to retrieve
  • but dog not bringing ball back to you - you thinking "what a stupid, useless dog" (but real reason: dog eager to get you more active and come after the ball yourself and then engage with the dog!)
  • 22 h: the beer was quite filling, but now you are wondering: Did anybody make dinner for you?
  • No. So, you're going into kitchen to eat something (hungry dog following you)
  • When your mouth is full, you're choking and when your head falls back forward you realize that your dog is hungry too, so now you're serving your dog a late evening meal (dinner) as per Feeding Routine - you never forget this bit, because you learned it from uncle Tim, and you notice the magical results every day.
  • 23.30 - 0 h: last dog walk to relieve, and off to bed!

Conclusion

dog exercise needs

So, you see that although the right exercise certainly is the life-enhancing factor No. 2 for a dog - and all the more for a German Shepherd Dog! - many dog owners are not taking this factor serious enough:

Their dog is not getting the right amount, intensity, and variety of exercise.

Within days, this always results in severe "dog behavior problems" - that really are nothing but owner behavior problems.

And within months to a couple of years, this also results in severe dog health problems - that seem unrelated to the lack of appropriate exercise, yet in many cases, dog health problems that aren't caused by the dog diet (life-enhancing factor No. 1) are caused by life-enhancing factor No. 2: lack of appropriate exercise.*

* The remaining cases are: infection, injury, medication side effects, and autoimmune disorders.

In the next Periodical we will then discuss life-enhancing factor No. 3 - which will give you some astonishing revelations and some clear-cut insight how to avoid ongoing high medical cost. eek

 

Checklist

  • In close pursuit of life-enhancing factor No. 1 (right dog diet) is life-enhancing factor No. 2: right dog exercise
  • The decision to get a German Shepherd Dog leaves no room for excuse to deny this herding breed the daily exercise it needs in order to stay healthy, calm, and balanced!
  • Just have a look again at the Periodical How to prevent dog aggression at which place Exercise ranks?
  • Exercise is the easiest way to mitigate stress - now just have a look again at the Periodical The Prime Secret about Dogs what I said causes most "dog problems"?
  • Now connect all the points to see how much sense it all makes what you are getting in the MYGERMANSHEPHERD PERIODICALS:
    • Exercise arrow avoids stress arrow avoids aggression and most other dog behavior problems!
    • Exercise + Diet arrow improves health arrow avoids most dog health problems!
  • "No time" is no excuse - until the day we die - because Life is about choices.
  • The quickest/simplest assessment of your dog's exercise needs you get with our unique GSD Online Health Profile (it considers 2 of the 6 input factors listed above)
  • While most dog owners provide their GSD not enough exercise, in certain situations (listed above) these same dog owners may risk providing their GSD too much exercise!
  • Hence why understanding this Periodical is all the more important eek
  • For the right dog exercise regime we need to consider:
    • dog's exercise needs (see 6 input factors above)
    • exercise amount
    • exercise intensity
    • exercise variety
    • and our own activity level
  • In order to stay healthy, calm, and balanced, dogs need both mental exercise and physical exercise
    • and both forms must involve all senses
    • and the physical exercise must involve all muscles
  • For mental exercise top of class are Nina Ottosson's wooden dog puzzle toys (and for even more variety see our Indoor Games Periodical)
  • For physical exercise top of class for the time-strapped sluggish dog owner:
    • Tail Teaser (indoors and outdoors) as it allows us even to sit down while the dog is exercising!
    • Varsity Ball (outdoors only) - if your dog possesses the Solitaire dog play style too?
    • dog treadmill (indoors only) - but note that a treadmill offers zero socialization, hence it's only an acceptable solution if you have the excuse of bad weather?
  • Note that even sports that seem unsuitable for a dog, often can indeed be shared with the dog (possibly after making an adjustment)
  • No matter how sluggish you feel you are, aim to serve at least two dog meals a day
  • Whatever dog exercise regime you opt for, it will take a couple of weeks before the dog's metabolism and gastro-instestinal tract can adapt to your schedule - so please don't push your dog to relieve at the only time that suits you eek
  • See the final image above this Checklist to understand all about your dog's exercise needs at a glance!
  • Now share your own experience here to benefit others like others and I aim to benefit you.

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As .ORG we depend on your (rare!) donations: however small it helps, THANKS SO MUCH!

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