Dog Owner Education

I am High Maintenance Too!

Written by: Karen Peak | Published by: insidenova (IN)

When people think of high maintenance dogs, they often think of breeds like Poodles, Bichon Frises, Old English Sheepdogs, and Shih Tzus, those requiring extensive and even professional grooming. However, there is another high maintenance people tend to forget because it is not visible. Breeds including Weimeraners, Belgian Malinois, Border Collies, Jack Russell Terriers and Australian Shepherds are the other high maintenance.

Size does not determine exercise needs level. A giant breed may be lower exercise than a smaller breed. Some large breeds may be quite energetic while some smaller ones are not. Research breed histories: Poodles were hunting dogs, Yorkshire Terriers were ratters. They may not be the frou-frou happy to sit on a chaise lounge dogs many assume they should be.

When discussing energy levels in dogs, opinions vary. This is my breakdown:

  • Low – less than one hour of exercise a day
  • Moderate – one to two hours a day
  • Higher – over two hours a day
  • High – minimum of three hours a day
  • Extreme – over four hours a day

Adequate exercise combines physical and mental stimulation. Shoving your dog in a yard with nothing to do is not adequate exercise. If your dog’s physical and mental needs are not met, he is at risk of becoming destructive and a nuisance. He is not bad or vindictive: he is needing more. As a rule, the higher energy the dog, the more work for the owner. Let’s start with exercise.

A good exercise session is one where the dog comes back and is happy to lie down and rest or is relaxed and not demanding more. Fetch, walks, running, swimming, pulling a scooter, careful treadmill work and chasing a lure are good exercise. If your dog is still crazy after a session, increase the duration of the sessions. We do not want dogs exhausted to the point of being unable to train and work with us either. Keeping a journal of exercise and play and the dog’s response after can help you determine your dog’s individual, daily needs. Physical work outs are not enough. Exercise the brain!

Enrichment toys like Tug-a-jugs and puzzle games work a dog’s mind. Many activities such as Agility, Nose Work, tracking, Rally and walks and social times work both. Do not forget manners training! Appropriate exercise, mental stimulation and training are vital for a harmonious life.

The higher the energy, the higher the needs.

Before you commit to a breed or type, change your routine to include the amount of exercise the dog may need – get out and active. If you cannot do it, you need to hire someone who can so examine costs. Remember many dogs stay active into senior years. Before you get that darling Jack Russell Terrier, ask yourself “Can I keep this up for the life of the dog? Will I make needed changes in my life as needed for the welfare of the dog?”

What about your current age and health? Is it time to consider a more appropriate breed? Do you have a condition that affects your ability to work with the dogs you use to own? Consider what is best for the dog you want. It may not be you.

Educate yourself before you commit. Dogs not getting their needs met are more likely to wind up at the local shelter. High energy is high maintenance.

Karen Peak is owner/operator of West Wind Dog Training in Prince William County, founder of The Safe Kids/Safe Dogs Project, a published author, wife, mother and the manager of a multi-dog, multi-species household.