German Shepherds Forum banner

1 - 13 of 13 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
250 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Putting this here because I realize I post a lot, but this forum has been so useful to me for helping me feel better when I have questions....and I'm just not feeling great right now.

Basically, I'm trying really hard to get Willow some good exercise and a good life. I've had her for just short of 4 months now. But today, I dunno. I just needed a break. We went on a 45-minute walk off-leash this morning, then she spent most of the day with me, hanging around the house, being pretty lazy. In the afternoon I took her for a 30 minute walk. No off-leash time except for a few throws of the ball when we were back in the yard.

Now she's sleeping on the rug at my feet. But for a while she was kinda restless, sort of pacing a bit and acting like she just was bored. But she settled down.

I don't really know how to explain what I'm feeling...I worry that I'm not going to be able to keep up this 1.5-2 hours or exercise regime every day forever. What about if I catch the flu? Or have a long day at work? Or am just so exhausted at the end of the day that all I can do is take her for a 20-minute leashed walk around the neighborhood? Is that good enough? Like...she seems FINE right now. And yet here I am feeling super guilty that she didn't have a really fun day.

I'm my own worst enemy, I swear. I get into these funks where I just worry about everything and feel like I'm a horrible dog owner and I should never have gotten a GSD. If this is an "off-switch" for her, if she's one of those awesome dogs who can be content with whatever level of activity I can give her, I feel like I should be happy that she can be so chill even on light exercise days, but...I feel like I'm somehow punishing her. And she's just sleeping because she has nothing better to do. I mean, does she WANT to sleep this much? If she didn't, she wouldn't, right???

I hope this makes sense.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,824 Posts
I say this with the kindest heart but I'm going to be blunt. STOP over thinking everything. Trust me if Willow was totally bored and unhappy she would surely let you know in a host of ways. Those that are truly bored/ lack adequate exercise tend to be very destructive or act out behaviorally (whining, moaning, pawing, become super annoying and general disobedience).
Dogs are pretty adaptable. They may not be thrilled but they do often understand ( in their doggy way) and tolerate off days just fine. If you should become ill short term with a cold, flu or whatever Willow will be just fine with a less active day. They do like their routine but they are just fine if there is a shift for whatever reason.

My girl looks forward to her walks but I'll be honest I don't like walking in the rain. I have a fenced in yard so she can go out to do her business. But I'm not getting soaked because she thinks we should. Sure I will do some play in the house on rainy days but walks are generally out. Is she miffed a little...sure. Is it unfair to her...nope. It's not like it rains every day and I never walk her or play with her. It's a one off here and there. Life happens. I have found the more you do with them the more they want. It's the routines and habits we create that causes the human emotional conflict. Sure the breed needs a certain amount of exercise but sometimes I think people get the impression it should be go, go, go all the time and that simply isn't the case.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,333 Posts
It is my opinion and experience that dogs who have basically good lives where their needs are basically met can cope just fine with short periods of not getting their needs met as well.

I have sick days, crazy days, days where the dogs just don't get nearly what I want them to have. They manage.

If the balance goes the other way where most of the time the dog isn't getting its needs met and rarely you get the dog properly exercised or whatever, then you will probably have problems.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
250 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
I say this with the kindest heart but I'm going to be blunt. STOP over thinking everything. Trust me if Willow was totally bored and unhappy she would surely let you know in a host of ways. Those that are truly bored/ lack adequate exercise tend to be very destructive or act out behaviorally (whining, moaning, pawing, become super annoying and general disobedience).
Dogs are pretty adaptable. They may not be thrilled but they do often understand ( in their doggy way) and tolerate off days just fine. If you should become ill short term with a cold, flu or whatever Willow will be just fine with a less active day. They do like their routine but they are just fine if there is a shift for whatever reason.

My girl looks forward to her walks but I'll be honest I don't like walking in the rain. I have a fenced in yard so she can go out to do her business. But I'm not getting soaked because she thinks we should. Sure I will do some play in the house on rainy days but walks are generally out. Is she miffed a little...sure. Is it unfair to her...nope. It's not like it rains every day and I never walk her or play with her. It's a one off here and there. Life happens. I have found the more you do with them the more they want. It's the routines and habits we create that causes the human emotional conflict. Sure the breed needs a certain amount of exercise but sometimes I think people get the impression it should be go, go, go all the time and that simply isn't the case.
It is my opinion and experience that dogs who have basically good lives where their needs are basically met can cope just fine with short periods of not getting their needs met as well.

I have sick days, crazy days, days where the dogs just don't get nearly what I want them to have. They manage.

If the balance goes the other way where most of the time the dog isn't getting its needs met and rarely you get the dog properly exercised or whatever, then you will probably have problems.
Thank you. Those were just the slaps in the face I needed.

I think this just comes from being a first-time dog owner, and my personality, of course...I have this pathological need to do things "right" all the time, and fear if I don't, there are going to be catastrophic consequences, like a neurotic dog, or messes in the house, or....something. All these websites that talk about how GSD's need 2+ hours of exercise per day or they're going to be miserable just got me feeling kinda hopeless. I find myself wishing she were 4 or 5 or 6 years old already, so I wouldn't feel so bad about not giving her more exercise. I'll just give her what I can, and strive for her being good-tired at the end of the day when I can.

Got a question...at what age would you say GSDs are "prime"? Like, since Willow is nearly 3.5 years old, should her energy generally be decreasing little by little from here on out?

Thanks again. :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,114 Posts
Thank you. Those were just the slaps in the face I needed.

I think this just comes from being a first-time dog owner, and my personality, of course...I have this pathological need to do things "right" all the time, and fear if I don't, there are going to be catastrophic consequences, like a neurotic dog, or messes in the house, or....something. All these websites that talk about how GSD's need 2+ hours of exercise per day or they're going to be miserable just got me feeling kinda hopeless. I find myself wishing she were 4 or 5 or 6 years old already, so I wouldn't feel so bad about not giving her more exercise. I'll just give her what I can, and strive for her being good-tired at the end of the day when I can.

Got a question...at what age would you say GSDs are "prime"? Like, since Willow is nearly 3.5 years old, should her energy generally be decreasing little by little from here on out?

Thanks again. :)
Shadow is 9. She sleeps a lot but her energy is still huge.
I have been basically living on the road for over a year and although she does get restless Shadow has adapted to a much altered life.
Dogs adapt.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,000 Posts
Also 👆👆👆👆 Reasons I should not have children!
Ha ha!
As both a human parent and a dog parent, the feeling of being totally responsible for another living being is pretty similar. We do have to acknowledge that our life has changed, that we will have to make sacrifices and adapt our lifestyle. BUT on the other hand, we have to understand we can not be perfect. Our children (and our dogs) will have to put up with some days when we are not at our optimum. We need to take care of ourselves, because if we don't, then we won't be able to take care of others. What that means is...

...if you need a "down" day, don't beat yourself up. You are taking care of yourself, so that you will be able to go on taking care of everybody else.
...you are a single dog parent and like any single parent, you need a Plan B. My Plan B is my husband, but maybe you should think about a "backup" plan for Willow. (in fact, that's one of the questions I had to fill out on the rescue application - "who will care for your dog if you become incapacitated?" )
...find activities that are tiring for Willow but not very tiring for you. Fetch, kibble find, obedience training, a round or two of tug, are not as physically tiring for the human as a 3-mile run in the woods!! One of my "down day secrets" is that we walk to this random field around a lake which is between two subdivisions, clip on his long line, and let him roam/sniff as long as he wants. I just stroll slowly around the little lake, keeping him in sight. Yes, there are many days when I enjoy a hike or run in the woods with him (I wouldn't have gotten a husky/shepherd otherwise!) , but there are probably 2 days a month when I feel blah, have a headache, am piled with work deadlines, etc and he seems to be OK with sniffing around the lake instead of travelling the usual loops.

Which is to say, Willow will be fine and somebody has to go earn the money to pay for the dogfood/vet bills/chewies/fleatick meds etc!
This is the reality of life,...don't beat yourself up about it, just do the best you can :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
488 Posts
Breath....your dog is fine. A day off is fine. Routines, whatever you do daily will be expected, so you may see some anxiousness if you suddenly change, but life happens. If you anticipate a change, you can ease your dog into new routines. And, right now, scrape out some no dog time, seriously. Some of that can be you reading/watching couch time while dog is ignored, but also time you spend away from each other. Also, handy in a multitasking sort of way, have mutual activities. All those walks you take--put them into the selfcare/exercise category for you. So you will have dog time (doing things for the dog), You time (which includes activities that include the dog, and exclusive activities, you alone), you find you have more you time.
If you are ill, well, life happens, You will both figure out the adversities.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
47 Posts
I am like you and have often had the same thoughts in the past. As others have said, dogs are very adaptable and do like routines. However, life is complex, which sometimes prevents us from satisfying those routines. As your dog gets older, you will probably need to add some rest days to accommodate inevitable soreness, etc.

With my previous GSD who recently passed at 11.5 years of age, I never really noticed an energy decrease. However, as she got older, her soreness became much more noticeable after long fetch sessions (especially late at night), leading us to take off-days and reduce the intensity and length of play sessions. Though, with a 3.5 year old dog, you probably have quite a bit of time until this becomes a concern.

My advice would be on those days when you are not feeling up for another play session, sit with your dog and provide an extra-long pet/scratch session instead. I'm sure you dog will be more than content with this trade-off. :)



Thank you. Those were just the slaps in the face I needed.

I think this just comes from being a first-time dog owner, and my personality, of course...I have this pathological need to do things "right" all the time, and fear if I don't, there are going to be catastrophic consequences, like a neurotic dog, or messes in the house, or....something. All these websites that talk about how GSD's need 2+ hours of exercise per day or they're going to be miserable just got me feeling kinda hopeless. I find myself wishing she were 4 or 5 or 6 years old already, so I wouldn't feel so bad about not giving her more exercise. I'll just give her what I can, and strive for her being good-tired at the end of the day when I can.

Got a question...at what age would you say GSDs are "prime"? Like, since Willow is nearly 3.5 years old, should her energy generally be decreasing little by little from here on out?

Thanks again. :)
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
32,128 Posts
All these websites that talk about how GSD's need 2+ hours of exercise per day or they're going to be miserable just got me feeling kinda hopeless.
We've had GSDs since 1986. Cava is our 6th. NONE of them have ever gotten 2+ hours of exercise every single day! Most of the time they don't get that much more than once or twice a week. As Springbrz said above, if she's settling in the house and not engaging in destructive behaviors she's probably just fine. In fact, if it were me, I'd be purposely building down time days into your schedule. She will adapt. I think a dog that's used to a rigid schedule of hours of daily exercise is going to have a more difficult time when there's an interruption to that schedule than one that learns that some days, we just hang out and do nothing. I prefer to not create an expectation that I may not always be able to follow through on.

Probably the dog that had the best off switch and napped the most at home was Halo. She was our first working line shepherd and I raced her in flyball for 5 years until she developed DM and I had to retire her. She was very intense and would run her heart out in the ring at a tournament or on the field at practice, and then chill quietly in her crate until it was her turn again. Barking in the crate at flyball is very common since it's a sport with a lot of high drive dogs, but Halo never did that. It was like she could flip a switch in her brain - turn it on and she was a hard core working dog, turn it off and she was a couch potato. Keefer was a West German showline dog, and he would always follow me around the house. Even from a dead sleep he'd get up and come with me every time I left a room. Sometimes we'd wonder where Halo was and go looking for her in the house. She'd be flat out in the entry near the front door, one of her favorite nap spots, looking like something had sucked out all her bones and tossed her there, lol. She was perfectly happy snuggling with me on the couch when we watched TV in the evening after dinner.

I'm home sick from work today and I slept in until 9 AM. My husband got up quite a bit earlier, but he leaves Cava in her crate so she doesn't disturb me when he's up first. Because she's so used to that scenario, she was perfectly fine getting up and having her breakfast much later than usual. She's quiet and calm until I get up and let her outside, whenever that is. On work days (Mon-Thurs) she gets breakfast around 6:30, on non work days I get up anywhere between 7 and 8:30, typically. She knows that when I get up for work she eats after I shower and dry my hair. Other days she eats as soon as I get up. She has adapted to that schedule because it's consistent in its inconsistency!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
166 Posts
All these websites that talk about how GSD's need 2+ hours of exercise per day or they're going to be miserable just got me feeling kinda hopeless.
I think we need to be careful when reading dog sites. They are often run by enthusiastic owners and trainers.

If one reads running web sites they might start to think everyone needs to train and eat like they are training to be a competitive runner or else they will die of a heart attack tomorrow or, God forbid, their body fat creeps up to 4.5%.

Some dogs like physical challenges, some dogs like mental challenges, some like to hang out on the couch.

Dogs have the same tendencies as people, the more in shape they are, the more exercise they like to have. The more they sit on a couch, the more NetFlix they like to watch.

Before my current pup, I had a black lab who had been returned to the humane society twice because he was aggressive and destructive. I took him home and realized that he needed 1+ hours of off-leash walks through the woods. He rarely got fed from a bowl. I would hide handfuls of kibble all around the house for him to find throughout the day. He loved searching. He quickly became the friendliest dog you could ever imagine.

The next dog was a 3-year-old German Shepherd who was extremely timid. She loved to just hang out; sitting on my bed looking out the window. We rarely went for more than a 15-minute walk per day. We almost always went one of two paths so she felt secure. If we walked more than 10 minutes from home she started looking over her shoulder every couple of seconds.

Each dog is different. You just need to find what works for the two of you.

BTW: I like this site a lot because it has a nice blend of owners with a variety of attitudes towards their dogs.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
122 Posts
Like most things in life (including parenting ) it's all about doing the best you can most of the time. give up the notion of "doing it right" all of the time. Enjoy the ride!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
528 Posts
Most dogs with half a brain understand when you're not feeling your best or are feeling tired. They'll put up with some lethargy on your part so long as it doesn't become a big habit. Our dogs know. If we're under the weather, they'll spend their time quietly keeping an eye on us, especially if one of us is really sick. Jack especially is a bit of a "nurse dog" worry wort type.
 
1 - 13 of 13 Posts
Top