A few months ago I got my Covid Puppy.
I chose a high-energy breed because I love being outdoors and I wanted a hiking buddy.
I considered Golden Retrievers, Standard Poodles, Black Labs and German Shepherds. All active and intelligent breeds.
I didn’t look at Rough Collies, even though I love them, however. Because my last dog, Annie, was a collie and it was too soon for me to have another.
Since I believe in rescuing pets, I checked out local rescue organizations for a dog that would work. That’s how I ended up with Snowy, a 6 month old white German Shepherd.
He was terrified when he arrived at my house. He’d spent his whole life in an outdoor pen and wasn’t sure what to make of being inside. I tried to persuade him with treats, but he ignored them. Finally, I just picked him up, all 60 pounds, and lifted him over the threshold. He lay there cowering while I brought him water and gently petted him.
An hour later, he was rambunctiously filling the house with his mad puppy energy.
He’s a handful, and I love him. He’s been amazingly good. No potty accidents in the 3 months I’ve had him. No aggression towards the cat, who tolerates his licking her. He’s never jumped on my elderly mom and he’s been gentle with the neighborhood kids who’ve wanted to pet him.
He’s still taken a lot of work. There’s a reason I waited until Covid to get a puppy. The first few days I got barely any sleep since I was taking him out every 3 hours to use the bathroom. There are times he gets mouthy an I’ve got a few bruises because of it. I’ve also lost a pair of slippers, some place-mats, a pair of shorts… it’s taken a while to get him to realize that not everything in the house is a chew toy.
None of this is extraordinary for anyone who’s had a puppy.
One thing that is, though, when you deal with a high-energy breed — they need exercise. A 20 minute walk twice a day won’t cut it.
So how much time do I spend with my dog? Right now, probably 2–3 hours a day. It’ll be more in a couple of months. Right now, because his bones are still growing, I can’t take him on longer hikes. As he reaches his first birthday, I’m planning to do them once or twice a week.
Right now, every morning he gets his hard core exercise session. I mix it up, both to keep him engaged and to accommodate my own energy levels.
Every other day I’ll take him on a hike — usually off leash, since I know a park that has some great off leash trails. On alternate days I take him to the dog park. When you factor in transport, it comes out to about an hour and a half every morning.
Throughout the day, we’ll have anywhere from 2 to 4 short play/training sessions. These will typically only be about 10 minutes. Then, in the evening, depending on how much energy he has, we either do a short 15 minute walk or a longer walk followed by a round of fetch.
Most days I spend closer to 3 hours with him than 2.
I’m OK with this. But if you don’t want to spend that kind of time with your dog… I’d like to suggest you get a lower energy breed. There are plenty of dogs out there that would love a 20 minute outing followed by a snuggle on the couch while you watch Netflix.
Whatever dog you get, make sure if fits your lifestyle. In the long run, that is what is best for both you and your dog.
Previously published on medium
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Photo credit: on iStock