This is a question that people often wonder about while trying to decide which dog breed might be the most suitable for them. They might think that a small dog is more of a couch potato while a bigger one is the one that needs daily jogging. In a way that is correct, but it is not the whole truth.
Yes, a bigger dog does need quite a bit of exercise and if they don’t get what they need, they might end up re-decorating the house. However, a smaller one can be quite active as well.
The German Spitz in America comes in two sizes: the Klein (small) and the Mittel (medium). Naturally, there is some difference between the two but in general, they are both active dogs that can hike quite long distances. My personal experience is solely on Mittels, but I have friends who go jogging with their Kleins with no problems whatsoever.
You can’t expect your dog to be able to run long distances if they are not used to the exercise. Imagine yourself in the situation: if you haven’t done any physical activities in a while and then all of a sudden you decide to do a hard one, it’s not very fun, is it? And how do you think you might feel the next day?
It is exactly the same for your dog. They, too, are not in great shape if they are not used to physical activity. They, too, will be sore the next day. Starting all of a sudden there is a greater risk for an injury as well. However, when your dog is used to being active all day all year round, hiking, jogging, whatever you might think is all-natural for them. No matter the size of the dog they all enjoy being outdoors. They all love to move, run, and smell the fresh air.
German Spitz Mittel is a great hiking buddy
I am the type of person who likes to walk in forests, go for day hikes, and just enjoy the wonders of nature. It is only natural that my dogs have always come with me to my hikes. The German Spitz Mittel that is my companion at this point in my life is a true hiking buddy. He is used to going on trails and can hike just as many miles as I can (probably even better than I can, to be honest). Whenever I get my backpack ready he gets excited because he knows it is time to go out.
In fact, the person in the header picture is me, and the dog is my German Spitz Mittel.
Our favorite day hikes are around 3 – 4 miles, but we have done much longer ones, too (a 9-mile-hike is no problem). Hiking in forests is far more demanding than walking the same distance on pavement would be, but at the same time, a soft surface is friendlier to any aching joints you or your dog might have.
On most trips, we take a break in a beautiful spot somewhere and enjoy coffee and snacks while taking in the scenery. We both cherish these moments that we can spend with one another. My dog loves that he gets to spend time with me and vice versa.
We have explored most of the trails in our local area and have traveled a bit further, too. It brightens up my day when I find new trails and get to see new places.
When you have a dog and you take him for a walk every day it doesn’t take long before you have circled the same roads over and over. Your dog will find something new there every day – a message from your neighbor’s dog for example – but for your own sanity, I suggest you go explore other places as well. You might be surprised by how much joy it will bring into your life. This way you will get your exercise and your share of fresh air in a more exciting package and you will make memories that you will cherish for years to come.
Hiking is something that I try to do about once a week depending on the weather, but it is never a daily activity for us. However, we go for walks every single day. In fact, we go for walks three times a day, every day.
If you are interested in starting to hike with your German Spitz, I have written an article that you might want to read: Hiking With a Small Dog (German Spitz) – Guide for Hikers
Daily walking routine with a German Spitz Mittel
I have had my own dog since 2002 (even before this there was a dog in my family when I was a kid but since I had no responsibilities back then I don’t really count it as having a dog of my own). All of this time since 2002 I have taken my dogs out for walks three times a day. Yes. Three times. Every day.
Our mornings usually begin with my dog jumping up and down in excitement, because he knows he gets to go out for a walk as soon as I wake up. My dog is no late sleeper but because neither am I, we are a good match. I quickly get dressed and then we head out. I have my breakfast only after we will have done our morning walk.
The morning walk is usually a short one, about half an hour, but it can be longer if I have time and if the weather is exceptionally beautiful. I personally love early mornings when everything is quiet and you can hear birds singing, the air is crisp but the rays of sunshine are starting to warm you up. The longest walk of the day, however, takes place in the afternoon, at least in the wintertime.
What I call a ‘long walk’ for us is around an hour of good exercise. It can be longer than an hour, too, but that is about the average. If possible, I let my dog run off-leash at least a good part of the walk. I trust him 100%; I don’t need to fear that he will run after something that he sees or that he will run to greet people who do not necessarily like to greet him. Of course, there are certain rules and regulations that prevent me from letting him run free sometimes, but whenever I can I will let him roam around. It is the best kind of physical activity that I can give him.
In the evening before bedtime, I will take my dog out for the last time and it is another short walk, usually shorter than the one in the morning. By this time we are both tired so it is most often just a quick visit to the bathroom. Overall I would say that my dog gets around 2 hours of daily exercise.
By the way, if you ever walk your dog in the evening or early in the morning, you might also want to read this article that I wrote:
Is there such a thing as too much exercise for your dog?
Sadly I sometimes see dogs that don’t get enough exercise and even those that don’t get any exercise. Then there are people who get a dog, get super excited for a while but then quickly lose their interest. A dog can live up to 15 years. When you make the decision to give a home to a dog you will make a commitment that will last the dog’s lifetime. You are the one that your dog’s life depends upon. You are all that he has.
However, if we look at the other end of the spectrum yes, I do think there is such a thing as too much exercise. My personal opinion is that a dog needs rest days as well, and the older your dog is the more rest he needs. A dog sleeps on average 12 – 14 hours a day, puppies and older dogs sleep much more than that. They need to rest and they need to sleep, too, in fact, they need to sleep more than us humans do.
Whenever I have taken my dog out for a hike, especially for a longer one, I make sure I provide him only light exercise the following day. I know that my dog is active and if I took him for a long walk again the next day I am sure he would happily go. I do think, though, that what is best for his muscles and joints is to give him a day of rest every now and then. This will prevent injuries as well.
Challenging the dog’s mental capabilities
Physical activity is not all that a dog needs: he needs and loves mental exercise as well. I sometimes hear people saying how their dog never gets tired even after hours of physical exercise. However, I guarantee that if you provide your dog mental challenges it will tire him up pretty soon.
I have done dog agility, K9 nose work, freestyle, and obedience training with my dogs and I can tell you from experience that even an hour of training is a long time. In fact, you can’t possibly train for an hour straight without taking breaks in between to keep your dog’s interest and concentration where they should be. If you train with them at home, you will see that even a few minute’s time can make a change.
Let’s say you take your dog out for a walk that will last 30 minutes. When you come back home your dog most likely still runs around and is full of energy. He probably acts as if he is hasn’t done anything at all. But what if you gave him 30 minutes of mental activities where he was forced to think and use his brain capacity? What you will see by the end of the session is an exhausted little fellow who is happy to take a nap while you do your work, watch a movie or do whatever it is that you like to do.
In the video above you will see my German Spitz Mittel playing with an activity toy. He needs to find a way to get the hidden treats. The activity toys by Nina Ottosson are my favorite and this one is hers, too.
It is great if you can switch these activities around a bit, too. Try taking your dog for a long walk the first day and while his muscles are resting the day after, give him something to think about: teach him new tricks, take up one of the dog training challenges that circle around the social media, give him an activity toy, take him out to a doggy training school where he will be challenged to concentrate with other dogs nearby… Maybe on the third day, you will be busy with other things but on the fourth, it is time to roam the trails again. You will end up with a happy, balanced dog that you will be proud to have as a companion.
People often wonder about how much exercise a dog of certain breed needs, but it is impossible to give a simple answer to this question because needing, surviving, and wanting are all different aspects of the same answer. A dog may need a certain amount of daily exercise but he can survive with a lot less. How much he wants and needs to have a fulfilling life is again a different matter.
The German Spitz can definitely survive with little exercise which is good whenever you or your family is sick with the flu for example and you cannot provide him anything other than the necessary visits to the bathroom. In the long run, however, the German Spitz needs a lot more to be living his life to the fullest.
German Spitzes are small but very active and lively and they like to be a part of everything that you do. They have plenty of energy and they love nothing more than to run around with the wind as fast as they can. They love to dig dirt, jump up and down and sniff the delicious smells in the air.
The German Spitzes are intelligent dogs as well and they are good at many dog sports that exist today. They are eager to do any kind of activity that you offer them and they are willing to put their greatest effort into solving a problem in their little heads. The more challenges you give them the better they get at them.
So, if you are looking for a couch potato then the German Spitz is not the right choice for you. My personal opinion is that if you are looking for someone to share the couch with you should consider the toy section of your local mall instead.
Don’t get me wrong, the German Spitz will be happy to share the couch with you and even cuddle with you for a bit (before it gets too warm for them). But lying on the couch will never be enough for them and it shouldn’t be enough for any dog out there.
Dogs need their exercise and the German Spitz is not an exception. It is your job to provide it for them. Imagine if your life depended solely on someone else. You waited all day long for their attention but in the end, you would only be ignored all day. The next day you would wait again, in vain. You would never get to do what you were supposed to be doing because someone else would never let you. Would you be happy?
While giving your dog exercise you give something for yourself, too. We have mostly been talking about exercise from the dog’s point of view, but it is equally important for your wellbeing. It’s been said that dog owners are happier and healthier than the ones who don’t have a dog, and I truly believe this to be true. Daily walks and a good dose of fresh air can only do good things for you, too.
Honestly, is there anything better than walking in nature and sharing those precious moments with your best friend?