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5 Tips for Springer Spaniel Exercise

These ideas for springer spaniel exercise span the amount and types of exercise for pup and adult, and what exercise to avoid in young dogs. Remember that these great dogs are bred for endurance - long days hunting and retrieving in the field. They are not bred for lots of sprinting, so their exercise profile will be different to that of a whippet, for example. 

Tip #1

Remember that dogs live their lives at seven times the rate that we humans do, so a 5 month old pup is only capable of what a 3 year old child can handle - so a 3 mile walk is not on for a 5 months old pup. 5-10 minutes should be enough, growing to 20 minutes or so at 6 months and then gradually upwards to 45 minutes for a fully grown springer. They can do lots more, but that should be the minimum on a daily basis with a couple of longer walks on weekends. As the dog moves through middle age, then they require less exercise - tune in to them and you will know when they are tiring and learn to taper the exercise periods.

Tip #2

Springers love to swim, so if there is a safe and slow river or stream, pond or lake close to you or within driving distance, then a weekly swimming session is great exercise, and you can encourage them with retrieves. A stick is easy for them to grip in the water - a ball can skitter away. Mine loved the sea, though salt water in their coat should be washed out with fresh from a garden hose. If you can put up with the mess or clean him off nearby, then letting him walk in the mud on a marsh is great exercise for his legs.

Tip #3

Springers are called that because they sprung the game out of the undergrowth - jumping into the air. This is good for the haunches, but not advisable until the dog is a year old when joints and ligaments are approaching maturity. They will in any case jump of their own accord. They are tremendously agile and throwing a dummy (maybe an old sock or glove with a piece of wood inside) into the bushes is great fun for them. Try to land it so it is a metre (3 feet) or so off the ground to encourage them to jump for it.

Tip #4

Don't make them sprint too much - they are endurance dogs not sprinters. This is especially important when they are very young as this can affect their bone, joint, ligament and muscle development, so that they do not grow with the normal conformation of the breed. There is a saying that running the dog hard gives him long legs. I don't know if it is true or not, but the underlying risk to his build and joints is definite when very young.

Tip #5

With a springer pup enjoying his exercise and being hard to hold back then you may detect signs of soreness in the limbs, perhaps by a change in gait, or early tiredness and wanting to lie down. In these circumstances it is important to avoid twisting and jumping and too much sprinting. We used to call it growing pains in children. There are homeopathic remedies available for pups, which appear to be effective. If you do detect signs of this, then cut down the exercise for a few days, and if there is no improvement then discuss it with your veterinarian.

Finally, before walking him in the open country, be certain your recall works when it should and keep an eye out for sheep and cattle. Just remember the country code. And don't forget your camera - they are such fun loving dogs that you will always come back with at least one great shot!

The author has kept springer spaniels for many years. Living near the sea, springer spaniel exercise revolved around marshland, estuaries, boats and beaches with lots of swimming for the dogs. Get your no-cost springer spaniel mini-course at =>




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