Exercising a Lazy Dog


I’m not sure if we’ve ever exhausted Mr. N yet. He may be tired at times but he’s always ready to go, go, go. He’s been to an hour-long agility class and then a four-mile hike and came home asking if we were going for a walk.

Onyxx on the other hand is the canine equivalent of a couch potato. He’s perfectly happy to lounge about all day and sleep in between meals. He also has a mild case of a luxating patella (trick knee).

I took both of them to run around a school yard the other day (Onyxx on a 30-feet leash). Onyxx trotted for maybe about fifteen, twenty minutes and then he just walked around sniffing things. He then came home and crashed. Mr. N played fetch for a little bit and ran circles around the rest of us (including my friend’s ten-year-old daughter) for about an hour. He was lively as ever when we got home.

I’m a proponent of daily walks for dogs but Onyxx is making me wonder. He really hates walks when it rains or is wet. Well we live in Oregon so that’s a good deal of the time (although we are having a really mild winter for us). When it rains, he lags five feet behind me and gives me this look of long suffering.

I also feel like he doesn’t enjoy walks as much as Mr. N does. Onyxx never pulls. I think he just doesn’t get excited about anything outdoors and doesn’t feel a need to. It’s not like he was trained (except for housebreaking) in any way before we started fostering him.

He gets walked several times a week for about thirty minutes. And we usually play tug every day, do trick training and he gets puzzle toys to eat out of. He is also taking a weekly obedience class right now.

And he’s a little underweight right now so I don’t have to worry about his weight. And his behavior really isn’t affected if he skips a day or two of walks due to rain.

So do I make him exercise more? Or if the dog is content and in good health, should I call it good?




26 Responses

  1. Cascadian Nomads

    January 24, 2014 9:07 am

    Everybody- canine, human, etc- needs to get their heart rate up to stay healthy. Though some of us are reluctant about it (myself included!) the heart is a muscle and "if you don't use it, you lose it!"

  2. Emma

    January 24, 2014 12:06 pm

    The main thing is to make sure he is healthy, but if he is, then no excuses for him…out in the elements and walk. That is our policy, Every day, no matter what the weather we are out walking 2-3 times a day with at least one long walk. The only excuse that works around here is an injury. If the pup knows you will cave because it is raining he will play it up to get out of walking. Make it fun, get all excited about it and maybe he will change his tune. Every dog has different likes, so not every dog loves hiking but we need exercise!

    • Tenacious Little Terrier

      January 24, 2014 6:32 pm

      Well like I said above, he has a trick knee. He's always happy to go out. It's just when we start walking and he realizes how wet it is that he starts lagging behind. And he does like tug and we play that every day.
      And we go out every day but if it is raining cats and dogs outside and Mr. N still gets throughly drenched despite wearing a rain coat, I cut the walk short. He has very little body fat and gets chilled easily. They're both single-coated and really fine fur/hair (more so in Mr. N's case). They don't have your thick coat, Emma!

  3. Stephen Pelletier

    January 24, 2014 1:59 pm

    You know where Slimdoggy stands on this one. Like CN and Emma say, it is vital that everyone, dogs and humans, get up and exercise. Every day if possible.

    Get off your butt Onyxx, workout with your mutt (Mr. N)!


  4. Hawkeye BrownDog

    January 24, 2014 3:53 pm

    Hi Y'all,

    I hate to disagree with all the activity experts, but, like humans, different breeds have different interests. Some breeds were bred to be lap dogs and need minimal activity. Tug, short walks, chasing a ball across the carpet are sufficient to raise these little ones heart rates. Some breeds were bred for sustained activity, like hunting dogs, herding dogs and terrier breeds. These dogs, until they reach the winter of their lives, are almost impossible to tire out. That's why they suggest some breeds are only suitable for homes with "active lifestyles" and other breeds are more suited for older humans who are less active.

    Suggestion, if you aren't already, try to keep Onyxx looking at you when y'all are out for a walk. Carry yummy treats and whenever he keeps up and is looking you in the eye, click and treat. My Human still does this exercise with me whenever we practice heeling, on and off lead…and I'm almost 8 yrs. old.

    Y'all come by now,
    Hawk aka BrownDog

    • Tenacious Little Terrier

      January 24, 2014 5:03 pm

      Thanks, Hawk. I do NOT think that small dogs don't need exercise. I go out with Mr. N every day and we dabble in dog sports. He needs it and wants it and likes it. And I can tell when he's underexercised and needs to run. He gets antsy.
      But Onyxx really is the consummate lap dog. He's perfectly happy to sit and be petted for hours. If he's healthy and getting exercise (to the point where he is tired) and at a good weight, I feel bad making him do more when he doesn't want to.
      I think it's a little unrealistic to expect Onyxx to keep up with Mr. N. Mr. N has all the terrier energy and an athletic build including long legs. Onyxx has short stubby legs, a bad knee and he's just really low energy in general.
      And we do reward eye contact. He is usually looking at me a lot of the time anyway in hopes of a treat.

  5. Kaitlin Jenkins

    January 24, 2014 5:54 pm

    I firmly believe the dogs know best. Just like people, each pup is an individual, and there are variations even in dogs of the same breed. What's best for one person is not always the best course of action for the next-same with pups! At our house, if our dogs are happily sleeping and crashed…we do not break the golden rule of 'let sleeping dogs lie' πŸ™‚

    • Tenacious Little Terrier

      January 24, 2014 6:40 pm

      Haha. Mr. N is always ready to go. It could be two in the morning and he's still perfectly happy to get up and go walk. No matter how much I condition Onyxx, he's never going to be as athletic as Mr. N. And Onyxx doesn't want to be!

  6. Nailah Bone

    January 24, 2014 6:35 pm

    Niles started pulling this with me when she was in pain from her pulled muscle. At first I thought she was throwing a fit since my parents weren't walking with us but then I realized it wasn't that.I took her to the vet and that's when he discovered the soft tissue injury. Maybe Onyx has some sort of injury? πŸ™ If not, then maybe you could break up the exercise sessions into 2 parts? Might be a good idea to talk to your vet about it for advice πŸ™‚

  7. To Dog With Love

    January 24, 2014 9:49 pm

    I agree with the each dog has their own capacity for exercise point of view. I laugh when you talk about Mr. N. because he's so much like Rocco! We'll go on a walk with our neighbor dogs — they'll go home and crash — and Rocco and I will walk/run six more miles, do some agility training, zoom around the backyard, practice some tricks… and THEN, MAYBE Rocco will take a nap! Regarding Onyxx, I would think your vet would be a good resource for "how much exercise is enough or too much, considering his luxating patella. Perhaps short walks are perfect for him with a little more play indoors. Every dog IS different, even among the same breed. Cosmo hated walks but he liked agility and loved chasing a lure. Rocco loves his walks and will keep moving for HOURS! For me, I think it's just about finding the right activity for each dog!

    Anyway, we look forward to seeing what you play at K9 Kamp! I think finding the keys is a brilliant activity!
    Your pals,
    Diane and Rocco

    • Tenacious Little Terrier

      January 24, 2014 10:47 pm

      I would take him to the vet and ask but the rescue pays his medical bills and I don't think they're going to approve a visit for something "minor" and he doesn't seem to be in any pain (he is not stoic). Onyxx likes tug which we play but he's not interested in tricks or chasing anything. He likes short walks when the weather is good. If he liked strangers better, he'd be a good therapy dog. He just wants to sit and be petted.
      Rocco and Mr. N sound like they would love each other. I have trouble finding small dogs who can keep up with him and want to play/wrestle with him for endless stretches. Mr. N tries to get Onyxx to play and he will sometimes but mostly he'll just nap.

  8. Kathryn Durno

    January 24, 2014 9:57 pm

    I am with Diane and Rocco, I would make sure he knee isn't causing him any pain and confirm what the right about of exercise is in the vet's opinion. As long as he gets regular exercise, which it sound like he does, and you keep him mentally engaged, which it sounds like you do that too, I don't think he necessarily has to keep up with Mr. N! At one time I had 3 Brittanys and 1 cavalier in my pack…there is NO WAY my cav Nala could handle the level of exercise that the Brittanys did. She had her own work out routine, cardio, strength and mind games that fit her speed and she was fit and in shape. Not everybody is a high energy breed or dog…

    • Tenacious Little Terrier

      January 24, 2014 11:26 pm

      Agreed. Onyxx is a Chihuahua. They're not exactly bred to be high energy or have stamina. Some do but the breed is not known for being active. Neither are Cavs. I think Mr. N gets all his energy from his terrier half. He must have had some really good mousers in his lineage.

  9. PawsandPedals

    January 25, 2014 10:06 pm

    Think Brown Dog is right-don't think you can expect all dogs to keep up with Mr N's awesome energy – Surprised you can. You might have to cut the other pup some slack πŸ˜‰ Happy FitDogging…..

  10. Kamira Gayle

    June 30, 2017 6:50 am

    Aww your other dog Onyxx is adorable. Yes, I’d say keep trying to keep up the routine for him too. At the very least Onyxx will continue to get some adequate exercise. To try to slow down might make him more lazy or comfortable and I had to see that result in more physical health issues. When it comes to muscles you either use them or lose them.

  11. amyshojai

    June 30, 2017 7:20 am

    Awww….love the pictures! Magical-Dawg loves to run and play, too, so haven’t had the issue with him about encouraging exercise. Karma-Kat tends to pudge up, even though he’s pretty active. It’s a balancing act, for sure.

  12. denisegruzensky

    July 1, 2017 9:58 am

    Love both of them and remember Mr. N’s energy. πŸ˜‰ I feel there is a balance. As the dog mom to a dog who has aged RAPIDLY in the last year I know how important it is for him to keep moving. While, on the other hand, letting him still enjoy what he is doing and not push him to the point of pain. It is important to keep Onyxx walking/moving using his brain and other muscles, which it sounds like you are doing. Maybe just not expecting him to keep up with Mr. N. BOL!

  13. Sweet Purrfections

    July 2, 2017 8:24 pm

    You’ve received some great advice from everyone here. I believe you should treat dogs as individuals and give them what they can handle. I wish you could bottle up some of Mr. N’s energy and send it to me!

  14. Beth

    July 3, 2017 12:04 pm

    I am curious to know if Onyx ever warmed up to a more active lifestyle. Mr. N is so energetic, I’m sure that he can wear out most dogs!


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