The Schipperke originated in Belgium as a small breed version of the Leauvenaar. This now extinct breed is also the forefather of the Belgium Shepherd. They were originally used to guard the boats and catch rats on the canals between Brussels and Antwerp. Today they are an increasingly popular companion dog.
Coming from working herding stock they do have a strong herding instinct. They also have a strong prey drive and like to chase small animals such as rabbits, rats, and birds.
How much exercise does a Schipperke need
A Schipperke requires at least 40 to 60 minutes a day of energy-burning exercise and activity. They are a playful and tireless little dog and would not say no to more. Failure to provide sufficient daily exercise and result in behavior and health issues.
Schipperkes love to play with toys and can get a lot of exercise inside. They tend to be an active dog when in the house in comparison to other breeds. If you want a small dog with a high tolerance for exercise, the Schipperke is ideal.
They are also intelligent, and quite independent and strong-willed, and require plenty of mental stimulation and enrichment as well. Mental exercise can help to tire a dog as much as physical activity.
There are three main types of exercise and activity you must provide your Jack Russell every day.
- 1. Daily walk
- 2. High-intensity short bursts
- 3. Mental stimulation
These exercise suggestions are for a healthy adult Schipperke. The exercise needs off a puppy are different as their bodies and growing and developing. See the bottom of this article for more on Schipperke puppy exercise.
Schipperkes have a life expectancy of 13 to 15 years but often live past this age. Exercise is still important for an older Schipperke to maintain their muscles and mobility, and to manage weight. See the bottom of this article for more on exercise for a senior Schipperke.
Schipperke daily walking requirements
The daily walk is essential for a Schipperke not only to release some pent-up energy. The walk allows your Schipperke 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 Schipperke can go all day long. Ideally, the minimum should be 30 to 40 minutes daily. This can be just once a day, or two walks a day would be better if your schedule allows.
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 Schipperke has good recall and comes on command, walks at the park off the leash are ideal. They can not always be trusted off-leash as they have a strong chase instinct. Alternatively, you can use a retractable leash or long line to allow them more freedom while maintaining control.
Schipperke exercise ideas
The Schipperke is quick and can turn on a dime. Ideally, you need to find activities that can burn energy in a short period of time and use these skills.
Here are some suggested activities and exercise ideas to help tire your Schipperke.
A 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.
This activity is ideal for a Schipperke as 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. It is important that this be a controlled exercise. For a full guide to flirt pole exercise for dogs see here.
View Flirt Poles on Amazon
Playing Fetch with your Schipperke is another fantastic way to burn pent-up energy. Schipperkes are generally ball and toy crazy can play this for hundreds of throws. A great alternative is to use an Automatic Ball Launcher so your dog can play Fetch by themselves. As theSchipperkel is highly trainable, as long as you focus their attention, they learn to use this quickly. For more information check out “Automatic Ball Launchers for Dogs”
Most dogs can chase and catch a ball. But a Frisbee requires a little bit more skill, coordination, and timing. Schipperkes are agile and look spectacular playing this. 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.
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.
A good energy burner if you have stairs in your home. Start at the bottom of the stairs and have your dog “stay”. Throw the ball to the top of the stairs and then say, “Go!” Let your dog dash up the stairs as fast as they can. Have them return down the stairs at a slower pace to avoid injury.
For more on stair exercise for dogs see here.
Running, biking or skating with your dog
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. 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 many dogs and great for keeping their muscles strong. 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.
Dog toys that move on their own
There are many dog toys available that shake, rattle, roll and move about on their own. These are ideal for a Schipperke as they cater directly to their chase and natural prey drive being ratting dogs. See “Dog toys that move on their own” to learn more.
Provide a digging area or pit
Many Schipperke love to dig. Provide an area or digging box for them so they can dig to their heart’s content. You can get a sandbox and fill it with sand and hide their toys or a bone in it for them to find. Just be aware that if the weather is warm the sand may get hot. You can wet it down with the hose if it is.
Alternatively, get them an iDig. This is the first dog toy that has been specially designed to cater to your dog’s natural digging instinct. You simply hide their favorite toy or treats in the flaps and let them dig away to uncover the hidden treasure.
Not only will the action of digging help burn off pent-up energy, but the mental challenge of working out how to get to the goodies will help to tire them also.
Check out the video to see how this works or view the iDig Go on Amazon.
For more ideas on how to provide for your Skipperke’s digging instinct read “Dog toys for diggers“.
Play with other dogs
Provide the opportunity for your Schipperke to play with other dogs. This is not only great to burn energy and stimulate their mind, but teaches them important social skills.
The Schipperke has a natural herding instinct. A herding ball is a great way for them to cater to this natural instinct while burning energy. They are a ball that is too big for them to pick up in their mouth. This means they have to push it around.
The Jolly Ball was the original herding ball for dogs and is inexpensive. It is made from hard plastic and is virtually indestructible. However, some dogs are able to scratch the surface with their teeth or claws which can leave sharp ridges on the toy. Can also be filled with water or sand to add weight to give more resistance to the workout.
View Jolly Balls on Amazon
The Jolly ball also comes in a range of sizes from 4 1/2 inches to 14 inches so you can choose the size that is best suited to your particular dog. A further option is the Jolly Soccer Ball if you want to be able to kick it yourself. This ball floats on water and will not puncture.
There are countless more activities you can do with your Sckipperke to burn pent-up energy quickly. For more ideas, check out “How to tire a hyper high energy dog” and “Tire a high energy dog quickly“. You may also like “50 Boredom Busters and games for dogs”
Mental stimulation for a Schipperke
All dogs need an outlet for their minds. This is especially true for a smart little dog like a Schipperke. 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 are ideal for dogs like the Schipperke 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 puzzle toys for dogs” for my top picks.
In addition to puzzle toys, Kongs for dogs are another great way to get your Schipperke to solve a problem and challenge the mind. Read “How to use a Kong for dogs“.
Scenting and nose games
Schipperkeshave a keen nose. Playing scenting and nose games helps to provide mental stimulation. Read “12 Scenting and nose games for dogs” for some ideas.
Provide your Schipperke 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.
Read “Best dog chew toys” to learn more.
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.
Turn mealtimes into an opportunity for your Schipperke 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.
Over exercised dog symptoms
Schipperkes can go hard and keep going, often not knowing when to stop. With any dog, it is possible to over-exercise them. It is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms of a dog that has overdone it. Read “Overexercised dog symptoms” to learn more.
How to exercise a Schipperke puppy
The exercise suggestions above relate to a healthy adult Schipperke. 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 Schipperke 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 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 Schipperke puppy read “How to exercise a puppy”
How much exercise does an older Schipperke 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.
In conclusion – Schipperke exercise requirements
The Schipperke is an active, playful, and smart little dog. It is crucial to provide adequate physical and mental exercise and activity to release pent-up energy and prevent boredom.
They require an hour of exercise and activity daily but wouldn’t say no to more. This should include one or two daily walks, other energy burning play, and plenty of mental stimulation.
The cost of not doing so can be an unhappy and frustrated little dog. This can lead to behavior issues such as barking, digging, escaping, and destructive behavior.
Let us know in the comments how your exercise your Schipperke.