Lurcher exercise needs and ideas

Lurcher running fast in a field

Lurchers are a sighthound such as a Greyhound, Saluki, Whippet, or Wolfhound crossed with a working breed, usually a collie or terrier. However, two sighthounds such as a Saluki crossed with a Greyhound is also classed as a Lurcher.

They are calm, gentle, affectionate, and loyal and make an ideal family or companion dog. Lurchers love the company of people and other dogs and often they do not like to be left alone.

They are suited to active homes but if they get sufficient exercise they can often be quite relaxed and calm dogs at home. If they don’t get the exercise they need, it can often result in behavior issues such as destructive behavior.

How much exercise does a Lurcher need

Despite their lean muscular bodies and great athletic ability, the Greyhound or only sighthound breeds have modest exercise needs. They are built for speed and generally don’t have a lot of endurance. See here for a guide to Grey Hound exercise.

However, because Lurchers are a working breed mix they need much more exercise than a sighthound depending upon what their mix is. They have much stamina than a sighthound and also require more mental stimulation

Lurchers require at least a good hour of exercise a day, preferably more. Failure to provide adequate daily exercise and mental stimulation for your Lurcher can lead to behavior issues. This can include destructive behavior, digging, nuisance barking and even escaping to find their own fun.

There are three main types of exercise and activity you must provide your Lurhcer every day.

  • 1. Daily walk
  • 2. Purposeful Activity and Play (see Lurcher exercise ideas below)
  • 3. Mental stimulation (see Mental enrichment for Lurchersbelow)

The age and condition of your Lurcher will also determine the type of activity they can engage in. A senior Lurcher maybe not as keen with high-intensity activity, but would enjoy a nice quiet walk with just the two of you. For more on exercising an older Lurcher refer to the bottom of this article.

For a Lurcher puppy, the exercise needs are different from those of an adult dog as their bodies are growing and developing. To learn more about exercising a Lurhcer puppy, refer to the bottom of this article.

Over exercised dog symptoms

Lurchers can go hard and keep going, often not knowing when to stop. With any dog, it is possible to over-exercise them, especially in hot weather. It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of a dog that has overdone it. Read “Overexercised dog symptoms”  and “Dog exercise in hot weather” to learn more.

Lurcher daily walking needs

The daily walk is essential for a Lurcher not only to release some pent-up energy. The walk allows your Lurcher to stimulate the mind with the sights, sounds and smells they come across.

The length of the walk is only limited by your time and energy as a Lurcher often has the endurance of a working dog. Ideally, the minimum should be 30 to 45 minutes daily. This can be just once a day, or two walks a day would be better if your schedule allows. The pace of the walk should be a brisk quick trot. Even then it is unlikely to tire a Lurcher completely.

Dogs also like routine, so try to schedule the walk for around the same time each day. Daily walks are much better than nothing all week and a big walk at the weekend.

If your Lurcher has good recall and comes on command, walks at the park off the leash are ideal. However, Lurchers generally do not have good recall as they bred to chase small furry animals. If they spot something worth chasing they are gone. You can use a retractable leash or a long line to allow them more freedom while maintaining control.

You can add extra resistance to the walk by using a weighted vest or dog backpack. It is recommended that no more than 10% of their body weight be added. This is more than sufficient to tire them and strengthen their muscles without overworking them. Other ways of increasing the resistance on the walk are to walk on sand or include uphill sections in the walk.

Lurcher exercise ideas

In addition to the daily walk, it is essential to also provide some high-intensity activity and play to further tire your Lurcher and to maintain muscle tone. By keeping the muscles strong they will support the joints and tendons preventing injury.

These are some of the recommended activities and exercise ideas to play with your Lurcher.

Fetch

Playing Fetch with your dog is another fantastic way to burn pent-up energy. Obviously, chasing games like this are exactly what Lurchers were bred to do.

Lurcherscan play this for hundreds of throws. A great alternative is to use an Automatic Ball Launcher so your dog can play Fetch by themselves. For more information check out “Automatic Ball Launchers for Dogs

Frisbee Toss

Most dogs can chase and catch a ball. But a Frisbee requires a little bit more skill, coordination, and timing. Roll the Frisbee on the ground towards your dog. They will instinctually want to grab it in his mouth.

Once you’ve accomplished this, try tossing it at a very low level first to your dog. If you feel like your dog is ready to go to the next level, toss the disc a little higher and further. Great energy burner and you may be amazed at your dog’s agility and acrobatic skill.

Dog toys that move

There is a wide selection of dog toys that shake, rattle, roll, and make sounds. Similar toys move around on their own. These types of toys are highly stimulating to dogs as there is more interaction than passive dog toys. They appeal to the Lurcher’s natural high prey drive.

For more information on dog toys that move on their own see here.

Flirt Pole

Flirt pole is like a giant cat tickler for dogs. It has a long handle with a bungy type rope with a lure or toy attached to the end. You simply move the lure along the ground around in circles or in different directions as your dog chases it.

It works directly with their natural prey instinct. Be sure they have a good “leave it” command and don’t allow them to destroy the toy. This game is excellent for burning up that pent-up energy in a short amount of time. For a full guide to flirt pole exercise for dogs see here.

View Flirt Poles on Amazon

Backyard agility

Set up an agility or obstacle course in your backyard. You can use items you have around the home, build your own agility or you can get reasonably priced agility sets on Amazon.

You can include tasks such as the weave, hurdle jumps, tunnels or jumping through hoops or a platform to jump on and stay.

Running, biking or skating with your dog

dog running with his owner on a leash in the city

The faster your dog is moving the more energy they will release. Try running, biking or skating with your dog to really get them moving. As Lurchers have good levels of stamina and can often go for long distances, they can make great running partners. Just be sure to build up the distance and intensity of the activity over time to prevent causing injury to your dog. Read “Running with your dog” for more on this.

Tug of War

A firm favorite of all strong dogs.  Make them crouch and pull back to use extra energy. Ensure that this is a controlled game and they release when you want them to. Also, a great way to build muscle and strength.

Play with other dogs

Provide the opportunity for your Lurcher to play with other dogs. This is not only great to burn energy and stimulate their mind, but teaches them important social skills.

Lurchers love the company of people and other dogs and in general, are very social and friendly.

Stair Exercise

A good energy burner if you have stairs in your home. To get maximin benefit from stair exercise the exercise should be done slowly. If they are running up the stairs quickly they are not putting their full weight down on each step. It is also much safer as running up and down the steps at speed may result in injury.

Walking up stairs or a hill strengthens the rear legs as the full body weight of your dog is on each leg as the step. As they descend the stairs they are using the opposing muscles for stability. For more on stair exercise for dogs see here.

Mental stimulation for Lurchers

All dogs need an outlet for their minds. If they are not provided the opportunity to challenge their minds they will come up with their own ways to achieve this. This usually manifests itself in bad behavior such as excessive barking, digging, escaping and other destructive behaviors. Read “Mental stimulation and mind enrichment for dogs” to learn about the 6 types or categories of mind stimulation a mental enrichment and some great ideas to provide this.

Some ways to provide mental stimulation and enrichment include;

Puzzle Toys

Puzzle toys are ideal for dogs like the Lurcher to challenge their minds and test their problem-solving skills. Due to their high intelligence, try to find puzzle toys that are a bit more challenging as they tend to work these out quite quickly. Check out “Top 7 puzzle toys for dogs” for my top picks.

In addition to puzzle toys, Kongs for dogs are another great way to get your Lurcher to solve a problem and challenge the mind. Read “How to use a Kong for dogs“.

Scenting and nose games

Lurchers have a keen nose which enables them to find the prey when they get close.  Playing scenting and nose games helps to provide mental stimulation. Read “12 Scenting and nose games for dogs” for some ideas.

Chew Toys

Provide your Lurcher with good strong chew toys. Chewing is a great way to occupy them. In addition, chewing releases endorphins and helps to relax a dog. Many dogs hold stress in the jaw.

For more on the benefits of chewing and the best chew toys click here.

Learning

Teaching new commands and tricks is also excellent to provide mental enrichment. A popular game that involves learning is to teach them the names of their toys. Dogs can learn hundreds of words and names.

Food enrichment

Turn mealtimes into an opportunity for your Lurcher to get a mental challenge and enrichment. Instead of feeding them from a bowl, give them activities that require them to work for their food. To learn more about feeding enrichment for dogs see here.

Enrich their environment

Environmental enrichment is the process of making a dog’s living space more engaging and interesting. To learn more about environmental enrichment for dogs see here.

For more activities, you can do with your Lurcher, check out 50 Boredom Busters and games for dogs

How much exercise does a Lurcher puppy need?

The exercise suggestions above relate to a healthy adult Lurcher. The exercise needs of a puppy are quite different. With puppies, their bones, muscle, and joints are still growing and developing.

Overly strenuous walks are not necessary and in fact, could possibly cause harm. An activity that is high impact on the joints should also be avoided.

The best exercise for a young puppy is free play with age-appropriate toys.

Socializing with other puppies or friendly adult dogs is a great way to burn some of that puppy energy along with teaching them the social skills they need.

As your Lurcher puppy gets older you can take them for short informal walks allowing them to sniff and explore and get used to being on a leash. Puppies under three months probably haven’t had all their vaccinations so shouldn’t be walked in public. Check with your vet when it is alright to venture out to the park or street.

The general rule of thumb for walking a puppy is around 5 minutes for every month of age. So, for example for a 4-month-old puppy, a walk of 15 minutes to 20 minutes is enough. Monitor your Lurcher puppy on the walk for signs such as lagging behind, lying down, or panting. End the walk if they seem too tired.

Mental stimulation is important for puppies and can tire them just as much as physical activity. For more on mental stimulation for puppies see here.

For more on exercise for your Lurcher puppy read “How to exercise your puppy

How much exercise does an older Lurcher need

As a dog gets older they become less active and have lower energy levels. However, it is still important that they remain reasonably active to keep their joints and muscles mobile and to manage their weight. Read ” Dog exercise for a senior dog” to learn more.

Many dogs develop arthritis as they age. Exercise for them becomes a balancing act. It is important to keep their joints mobile and manage weight, but too much can make them sore. Read “How to exercise an arthritic dog” to learn more.

Lurcher exercise

Summary – Lurcher exercise requirements

Lurchers require at least an hour or more of exercise and activity daily. This should include one or two daily walks, other purposeful activity and play, and mental stimulation.

Because Lurchers are usually mixed with a working breed such as a collie or terrier they have more energy and endurance than a Greyhound. Failure to provide sufficient exercise for them often results in behavior and destructive behavior.

Let us know in the comments how you exercise your Lurcher.

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