A Guide To Exercise For Terriers

Work by  Bala Sivakumar.

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Photo by Bala Sivakumar/ Flickr

Terriers: Fun with Fitness!


Tenacious, sturdy, cheerful and outgoing – these are some of the words that are often applied to the dogs that belong to the Terrier group. Beloved canine characters like the West Highland, Norfolk or Scottish Terriers with their comical, wiry whiskers come to mind when most people think of these dogs, and they can make fantastic companions. Terriers, as a group, are dogs that were generally bred for the purpose of hunting rats and other small vermin, which means that running, digging, and barking are some of their most finely developed skills. With compact, muscular bodies that almost seem to vibrate with pent up energy at times, they need both a mentally and physically challenging exercise routine.

  • Terriers are far from delicate creatures – bred to work in harsh, wet and muddy working conditions, they’re easily able to venture outdoors in all sorts of weather. Many terriers are blessed with a slightly oily, wiry coat that sheds water and helps to maintain body temperature. The only one that might need to don a raincoat for a stroll outside would be you! For those canine friends who have different coat types, however, such as the Jack Russell or Bull Terrier, or for extreme temperatures, protection such as a coat or boots is a good idea.
  • The best workout for terriers (or any dog, for that matter) tends to be one that they enjoy most, of course. Terriers are assertive and versatile dogs, so many activities would fit the bill for appropriate exercise – hiking, jogging, playing fetch, or social time with other dogs are all great ways to keep your pup fit. Dogs that are mainly indoors can adapt very well to walking or running on a treadmill with supervision, as an alternative to venturing outdoors! At least an hour of daily activity is required for these small powerhouses.
  • Training that challenges them mentally (like ‘find it games, hide and seek, or obedience training) is also mandatory. These dynamos will quickly find a job of their own to do if they’re bored – it just might be digging a hole in your couch! These intelligent, agile pooches also excel in organized sports like canine agility, flyball or rally obedience. If you’re interested in an activity that goes back to your dog’s roots, then terrier earth dog (tunneling) trials, scent training or lure course racing are great options to exercise best pal’s body and mind!
  • Finally, though they may be hardy spark plugs in furry bodies, these pups can have some health considerations that you need to keep in mind before starting a workout routine. It’s always a good idea to discuss your exercise plan with your veterinarian before trying it out with your pet, especially if your terrier friend has any existing medical conditions. Your Border terrier may have issues like hip dysplasia or cataracts, and Wheaten Terriers can develop protein-losing disorders or kidney diseases. Some diseases like cardiomyopathy or luxating patellas are common to many terrier breeds, and may impact your pet’s activity level. Always follow your dog’s lead and stop any activity right away if your pet becomes scared, exhausted or painful!


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