How much exercise dogs need is a hotly contested subject, especially with working breeds. We are often asked how much exercise our dogs need, usually by prospective first-time owners, or individuals and families who have never had a working dog before. Speaking in very broad terms, our advice would be that more is better than less. The breeds we train and sell (German and Belgian Shepherds, Rottweilers, Cane Corsos, Dobermanns, and Giant Schnauzers) are all naturally active and intelligent. This is only magnified in the working lines we select puppies from, and these dogs will seek and demand a higher level of physical and mental stimulation than a typical pet.
Meeting these needs is achievable, and we suggest a minimum of two walks in the day. First thing in the morning and after a dog’s evening meal both work well, as well as other shorter windows of outdoor access to allow for toileting. Even better though is allowing a working dog frequent outdoor playtime where they are free to run, explore, and sniff at will. As their sense of smell is so sensitive, dogs find sniffing very mentally stimulating and a short slower sniff walk can actually be more fulfilling and tiring than a longer and brisker jog.
Energetic playtime can partially meet a working dog’s need for more exercise than a pet, and we have had the most success with flirt poles, games of fetch with a Kong chew toy, and agility courses. If your dog enjoys swimming, then we would also encourage you to allow it to spend time in lakes and ponds.
Owners should also be mindful that these needs will likely change throughout a dog’s life. A puppy will almost certainly have seemingly limitless energy when awake, whereas unwell, injured, or elderly dogs should not expected to be as active as they once were.
As lifelong dog lovers, we want the best for our four-legged friends. We hope to give them the happiest and healthiest lives possible, and view them in a similar light to human family members. An exercise we personally found helpful to focus how we treat our dogs is imagining what…