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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-27-2020, 03:50 AM Thread Starter
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Puppies, exercise and jumping

Hi all,

We (myself and my lovely boy Loki) are new to the forum - very excited to have found such a great source of information! Loki will be 6 months in a couple of days, and my first puppy. He is an amazing little boy, very loving, intelligent and great with other dogs and people. He is from European show lines and his parents were both hip scored and health tested.

I was hoping to sense check a couple of things with this forum, namely (i) exercise levels, and (ii) jumping and stairs at home. I apologise in advance for the lengthy post!

Starting with exercise levels, he normally goes to daycare where he spends his day running around fields with other dogs, with nap time throughout the day. With current restrictions, I have instead been taking him for two walks. One walk to a park that is a 15 minute walk away - when we get there we spend some time training, and the rest of the time just mooching around sniffing and playing with other dogs (we are usually out for an hour in total). The second walk is to a smaller closer park that is a 5 minute walk away. When there, I tend to focus on training, sniffing and playing fetch with me (we are usually out for about 45 minutes in total). All the park time for both walks is off lead, and the walks there are on lead.

Other than the walks, we have short play sessions in the garden throughout with his favourite flirt pole and playing tug with a rope. This is in addition to non-physical exercise - we do a number of enrichment activities, training, brain games and scent work and he gets most of his meals in a toy or in the garden for his to search for.

Does this seem about right? He is a very active dog and rarely naps much during the day if I'm home (much more exciting to spend time with mum!), but he does know to go to the bed or a mat if asked etc. He would love to go to parks further away for more variety, but I am worried about doing too much too soon (I don't drive and with current restrictions we can't get public transport).

My second question relates to jumping and stairs at home. I live in a tall, narrow house, which has got just one room on each "half floor", meaning that there are stairs between each room and stairs to get up or down to the garden. When I first brought him home I carried him down the stairs, but he started climbing them himself after a few weeks. Until about a month ago I also slept with him in the ground floor guest bedroom in order to limit him from the top two floors of the house, although he would still need to go up and down the stairs to get to the kitchen and living room. We have now moved to the main bedroom on the top floor of the house, meaning even more stairs. Needless to say, he is too heavy for me to carry and he is scarily confident bouncing down the stairs (although I try to slow him down as much as possible). To top it all off, I have wooden floors throughout the house, so it is fairly slippery. I ordered more non-slip rugs a few weeks ago, but they have been delayed given the current situation. He will also happily jump on and off the furniture throughout the house, including my bed during the night, and although I bought steps for him to use he generally ignores them and just jumps off. Having scared myself suitably google hip and joint problems for large breeds I wanted to check if this set up seems ok (if not ideal), or if there is anything else I should be doing?

I gets fed good quality food for large breed puppies, and in addition gets a fish oil supplement and dried sprats as training treats.

Thank you all very much in advance
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-27-2020, 08:13 AM
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The main thing we tell folks to avoid with a young dog is "forced" repetitive exercise--meaning something like jogging or biking on hard pavements, where the dog has to go at your pace and can't necessarily quit when he needs a break, and also to avoid a lot of jumping and twisting.

The only concern I see in your program (which sounds good to me in general) is the flirt pole--it's a great way to exercise a dog, but for right now, keep the lure on the ground so he's not doing those spectacular leaps (that are SO much fun to watch ) and don't have him doing a whole lot of darting around back and forth, twisting and carrying on.

The sniffing and mooching is healthy for him--dogs really need a lot of explore time for their mental health.

Training and mental work can tire a dog out too. I've not been involved with the sport, but a lot of people swear by nose work as a wonderful way to tire a dog out without stressing his joints (it's good for an aging dog too.) Meadowcat here on the forum is quite active in the sport and I'm sure would be glad to give you more info about it.

Here's a thread about that:

The Nose Work Journal

A lot of it is about trialing with your dog, and I don't know that your programs or titles would be the same, but I imagine you can find something along these lines.

As he matures, you may find that he will not play with other dogs that well--he may even be too aggressive to be allowed off leash play with males or strange dogs. Dobes aren't very good dog park dogs--and a lot of owners aren't particularly good dog park owners either. They stand around and chat and don't pay attention to what their dog is doing. They ignore their dog's rude behavior with other dogs--they may not even know when their dog is the canine equivalent of rude with other dogs. They (dobermans, I mean) may not do very well at doggy daycare either.

Read up on "same sex aggression", which dobermans can be particular prone to.
Same Sex Aggression Questions

Many dobermans (in fact a lot of mature dogs of any breed) are dog selective--you may be able to find a dog or two he plays well with and stick with those.

Here's a couple of threads for you:

Age of onset for becoming "dog selective"

We can't go to the dog park anymore

So that portion of his exercise may need some modifying in the future.

Last edited by melbrod; 04-27-2020 at 09:08 AM.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-27-2020, 08:44 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks, that’s really helpful - and thanks for the links to the other posts which I will make sure I work through 😊

On the flirt pole I have been careful to keep it on the ground, but will also keep in mind to avoid twisting etc where possible. He has a few regular friends he plays nicely with at the park, but I always keep an eye on him to make sure he adapts his play style etc.

When he is older I am hoping to be able to go running and hiking with him, so he will get his exercise that way 🙂 I actually can’t wait to have a running buddy, and have started looking into local canicross clubs for next year! I’m also conscious that daycare may be tricky (for the same reason as dog parks) when he is older, so the plan is to instead get a dog walker to stop by a couple of times a day when I’m at work if/when that happens.

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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-27-2020, 09:25 AM
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I'd actually caution you to be careful with fetch - most people don't realize the injury potential from playing fetch, and I'd be especially cautious with it for young puppies.

See this article by a sports/rehab certified veterinarian (Deborah (Gross) Torraca, DPT, MSPT, Diplomat ABPTS, CCRP has been involved in the field of animal physical rehabilitation for over 17). I'm copying the text below, but link is here: TBT ? Think Before Throwing! ? TotoFit

TBT – Think Before Throwing!
Posted on June 1, 2017 by Martha McCormick
TBT – Think Before Throwing!

In the past two days, I have worked with two dogs injured from overzealous ball playing, fetching, retrieving at quick paces, or whatever you want to call it. When I mentioned to both owners they would need to discontinue this activity for a while to let the dog heal, they both responded in despair with questions of how would they be able to exercise or tire out their energetic dog. And there were also interjections of how much the dog loves to play with the ball and disc. The fact that their dog was injured did not appear to be a concern. The real concern was how impossible it would be to stop doing this activity.

It occurred to me that many people feel this strong NEED to continuously throw a ball or other object for their dog, have them retrieve it, and repeat until the dog almost drops from exhaustion. Nothing seems to deter people from doing this – not even lameness. In both the recent dogs I worked with, the owners admitted the ball throwing in their yard caused the lameness and pain. However, they could not give it up, even though it was hurting their dog physically because the psychological stress to the dog and owner would be too much.

I look at things from a physical standpoint first and adhere to the rule of causing no harm. So, for me, this is a no brainer type of thing to deal with. There are many behaviors that can be used to replace ball playing and many types of activities and exercise that can be used safely to ‘tire’ the dog out. So, I am just going to go out there on a limb and publically state – I hate this exercise and in my opinion, it is the cause of more injuries to dogs who are not fit than any canine sport out there!

Let’s first look at the breakdown of a short retrieve. And by this, I mean tossing a ball or other object repetitively. The take off to retrieve the ball is an explosive movement. Many muscles are working to propel the dog forward, inclusive of the core and hindlimbs. Basically, the entire body works to move the dog forward quickly. The dog is focused on the movement of the ball and direction changes, rather than its own safe movement. Then comes the real stress of this motion — slowing down to grab the ball. The dog must use its muscles eccentrically to put the brakes on and grab the ball. The large muscles of the hips, shoulder and trunk need to work very hard to slow the dogs’ body down so it can safely and effectively pick up the ball. If the dog does not have the strength to do this, we often see it wipe out completely and fall on its face or we watch the hindlimbs dangerously move in front of the dogs’ body. Of course, we see this more often as the number of repetitions continues. The more fatigued the dog becomes, the less control they have over body movement.

Injuries can occur to the dog’s shoulders if the forelimbs slip while they are running full out with their heads in the air. Injuries to the iliopsoas and the lower back are also very common due to the lack of control of forward motion. Injuries to the spine may also occur, and of course, additional soft tissue injuries to the face, toes, wrists and hock. Unfortunately, this type of activity is very often performed without a warm up. I hear countless stories of owners who take their dog out in the morning, stand on their back porch and throw a ball ten to fifty times to help decrease its energy. There are many alternatives to this exercise, and I am sure your dog will love them.

Core work can burn more energy than playing fetch. While drinking your morning coffee, ask your dog to perform sit-to-stands on the K9 Kore Disk. Repeating this until the dog is tired will focus on both their strength and their training. Of course, this can be done any time throughout the day because it’s easy to incorporate into normal household routines. Teaching your dog to back up onto and over the Disk, BISkit or another object will also work their core and their hind end awareness. If your dog is able, you can add in side-stepping on and off an object.

Walking with exercise intervals is one of my favorite activities. If you only have ten minutes, taking your dog out for a ten-minute walk and breaking it up with intervals is a wonderful way to mentally and physically stimulate it. Bring a stop watch or set your phone and begin with a one minute fast walk. After a minute, ask your dog to perform ten sit-to-stands. Then continue for another fast minute walk. Then ask your dog for stand-to-sit-to-downs, and reverse. You can continue with this and add in walking backwards, side steps, etc. Both the mental and physical stimulation is a great way to exercise your dog.

If you MUST play fetch or ball with your dog, there are definitely things you can do to prepare your dog’s body for the activity:

Begin with slow and controlled ball playing. Start with short distances and a small number of reps.
Always keep the throwing low and controlled.
Do not do this on a slippery surface – such as wet grass, ice or snow.
If your dog is exhibiting signs of lameness during the activity or after, STOP!!
Help your dog build good core strength BEFORE ball playing (see previous BLOGS)

Keeping it Safe!

Dr. Debbie
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-27-2020, 09:35 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks, that’s a really interesting article!

Luckily his interest in fetch rarely extends beyond 3 or 4 throws (and tends turns into tug instead as we use a rope), but I will make sure that we are careful and will look into other alternatives as well 😊
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-27-2020, 10:29 AM
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Nosework really is a good way to tire them out without a lot of physical activity. If it sounds interesting, this is the Nosework UK website. https://scentworkuk.com/

If you want to give it a try, and can't do in-person training, then the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy has awesome online classes, with the next session starting June 1st. https://www.fenzidogsportsacademy.com/

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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-27-2020, 01:31 PM
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I tend to approach exercising pups, and dogs in general, in the manner Melbrod covered. Basically, if it seems like it presents an increased risk of injury or result in joint pain, I avoid it. Stuff like, no chase games in wet grass or mud. No jumping on cement or pavement. No running up and down stairs. No all day hiking on any terrain for puppies; I stick to short "nature walks" with pups. (Real hikes are for dogs in proper condition in my house.)

Each dog is different but it does seem like your < 6 months old pup is getting quite a bit of activity and stimulation throughout the day. You mention that he doesn't really nap during the day. Some pups will settle on their own but others won't.

So, it depends on what kind of lifestyle you expect / hope to have with him but you might consider scheduling in some downtime for him each day, too. If you don't mind him not napping or relaxing then that's your call. But I personally like my dogs to be able to relax quietly some times at home or when we visit family during holidays. I don't mind being active with my dogs, as I'm a very active person myself, but I do get annoyed by a dog who thinks they always need to be entertained.

Dobes tend to be active and alert enough that most don't seem to require much encouragement in the get-up-and-go department. But many do benefit from being encouraged to relax. Some Dobermans can be a little nervy and anxious and, if they haven't been encouraged properly to chill out, they can develop some OCD tendencies or nervous ticks.

Its one of those things I find easiest to start encouraging, shaping, and building with them from a young age rather than keeping them super busy and entertained as a pup and then getting annoyed when they harass me all the time out of boredom as an adult.

As for the stairs thing, the non-slip rugs you've got on order are a very good idea. And I've found the same as you - when a puppy is given an opportunity to safely climb down from something or fling themselves off, they nearly always choose the thrill-seeking option. haha I just try to help them off (i.e., grab them before they launch and gently put them in the floor). I'm not always fast enough but I make a concerted effort to stay close and prevent it when possible.
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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-27-2020, 02:07 PM
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I really like the suggestions (and the narrative from the Vet) on MeadowCat's post and on BRW's post.

My puppies are raised to never get on furniture or beds (except their own dog beds--and I often sit on their beds with them just because) so I don't have to deal with the problem of puppies jumping on and off beds and furniture. Frankly I don't worry a lot about stair climbing up or down--but that's kind of a knock on wood for my dogs since over a lot of years and a lot of mostly Dobes I've never had one injure himself on stairs. The only dog that came close was an Australian Shepherd puppy--who decided one day to not stay behind me on some very steep stairs (and he had actually been trained to do that since it was a long flight and VERY steep) he made it past me and was going too fast and ended up going head over heels and at the bottom was carrying a hind leg and crying--by the time I got to him he had the foot on the floor and had stopped crying. He didn't try that again and evidently suffered nothing permanent and lived to be 13 with no sign of any lameness.

I don't do much tugging with my Dobes--if you watch a dog who is really into tug I'm uncomfortable with the neck twisting and shoulder jerking that goes on with a very active tugger (to say nothing of the fact that my bigger males are capable of yanking me off my feet--which isn't really good for either of us.

I also don't do a lot of excercise with a flirt pole--like recreational retrieves the fast changes of direction can accidentally end up with a dog injuring himself.

I do a fair amount of basic training--puppy push ups (down to sit and sit to down and later the sit to stand and down to sit to stand and various versions of that. Also beginning scent work aimed at producing a dog who can do scent discrimination in Obedience Utility. Or the newer Nosework. These will wear my dogs out faster than most walks, or other exercises like that.

I never take dogs to dog parks--too many people there not paying attention to ill behaved dogs for me to be comfortable with.

My experience with activity levels with my dogs is that the more exercise you set up for them the more they end up needing. I also teach my dogs (as puppies) to be able to have a good off switch and some of them didn't seem to have it naturally so I taught them to relax--stop playing for awhile and to be able to entertain themselves quietly with a toy or something to chew.

Mostly I've had multiple dogs--and all learned at pretty young ages that in the house none of the rowdy play and excercise they got with each other were acceptable. They didn't get to chase the cats nor did they get to chase each other.

I used a crate to help teach the idea of a quiet time and most of my dogs learned to go there as a "place" to be quiet--as adults my dogs (and actually the cats often retire to the always open crate in the kitchen to just be quiet but still be where they could see what was going on.

Good luck with the puppy--sounds like he's getting plenty of exercise.

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