Any one of my readers with terriers knows that the energy is endless. As in bouncing off the walls endless. But I’m here to say, that in the interest of science, I have been conducting experiments on this matter. And I can now say, with certainty, that it is possible to tire out a terrier. I mean tire them out to the point of having them crash for most of the evening and sleep through a good part of the night. Here’s the trick. Terrier energy seems to be adapted to stop and start — huge bursts of energy interspersed with a stop with lots of panting. Lather, rinse, repeat. Break that cycle and you are on the winning side. This coincides with a lot of science which says that humans’ great advantage over almost all animals was the ability to keep moving over long distances at a steady state. Prehistoric humans used to run game to the point of exhaustion by simply traveling at a lope over several days. Even antelope couldn’t keep up that pace.
Luckily, with terriers, back-to-back Marathons are not necessary. For the last several weeks, I’ve been experimenting with walks around San Jose’s Rose Garden. It’s flat and dogs have to stay on a leash. Which forces the dogs to walk at human pace, which, while not as fast as a terrier mad dash, is steady-state walking with no breaks. Between 3.5 miles and 4.5 miles is the sweet spot where you can get terriers tired to the appropriate level. Surprisingly, this is more effective than hiking out in the hillsides. In Sonoma, when we are hiking off-leash, the terriers rush up hill and, by the time the humans reach them, they are recovered and ready to go. But keep the pace steady — even at a relatively slow pace — and the human can trump the terrier.
On average, I’m getting at least eight hours of complete terrier exhaustion and sleep out of one walk.
Terrier owners of America, you can thank me now.
this is good news!!
Ooh, I do this as well, although it takes at least two humans to walk three terriers and a Dachshund. We’ve figured that if we pair Jameson and Nutmeg in the lead, and Fiona with Britta bringing up the rear, we can do a forced march walk around our architecturally interesting (and squirrel-filled) neighborhood that lasts about 45 minutes/two miles and they will be good and worn out for at least five hours. This is great on the weekends. Nutmeg and Jamie start out straining at the leads and we imagine hitching them to my nice little Subaru folding wagon to haul produce or something. By the end of the walk, Britta wants to be carried and everyone is walking at heel, and being very good.
When Cora was young (she’s a German shepherd/Border collie mix, as far as anyone can tell), she required amazing amounts of exercise. She would run for HOURS on the beach or at the dog park. Thankfully, she has slowed down quite a bit now, but she can still run circles around me. Four legs are definitely more efficient than two.
As a city dog 8 months of the year, Django is always on leash at our park. We can circumnavigate it in a half-hour at a brisk pace. Adding the surrounding neighborhood plus another close by park adds another hour. We try to do both every day. If we’re short of time, we can take him to our local Civil War Veterans’ Cemetery, which is a square surrounded by dead-end streets and alleys. Then, we can attach his Walky Dog bike leash and race around the square at almost Terrier speed, with no worries about cars and almost no other dogs. That would be a four hour walk in about 15 minutes!
You should get an award for this! My late terrier once played fetch for two hours with a friend who was dogsitting her. The dog would have continued for more hours. However friend had to go inside and rest and ice his shoulder.