The Chinese Shar Pei is a medium-sized breed. They were originally developed to guard, hunt and later on fight. They can be independent and willful, but with a suitable owner, they are respectful and good companions.
How much exercise does a Shar Pei need
The Shar Pei is a moderately energetic dog and playful dog. They don’t require large amounts of high-intensity exercise. Up to one hour a day of moderate exercise is sufficient to prevent boredom and burn off any pent up energy.
There are three main types of exercise and activity you must provide your Shar Pei every day.
- 1. Daily walk
- 2. Free play and activity (see exercise ideas below)
- 3. Mental stimulation
This recommended exercise quantity and ideas are for a healthy adult Shar Pei. The exercise needs of a puppy are different as they are still growing. The Shar Pei can be prone to joint issues later in life. The wrong quantity and type of exercise can cause injury to a puppy with growing bones and joints. See the bottom of this post for more about how to exercise a Shar Pei puppy.
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.
Exercising an older dog can be a balancing act. Too much exercise can leave them sore and stiff. See the bottom of this post for more on exercising an older Shar Pei.
Shar Pei exercise in hot weather
The Shar Pei does not do well in hot weather. This is made worse by the fact their winkles trap the heat. Avoid exercising them outside when the weather is hot and the sun is blazing down. For tips on exercising a dog in hot weather see here.
How much walking does a Shar Pei need
The daily walk is essential for a Shar Pei not only to release some pent-up energy. The walk allows your Shar Pei to stimulate the mind with the sights, sounds and smells they come across.
Ideally, the daily walk should be 20 to 40 minutes daily. Every dog is an individual and some may need more or less. Monitor your Shar Pei on the walk. If they are lagging behind or panting excessively you should cut the walk short.
The walk 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 Shar Pei has good recall and comes on command, walks at the park, or out on trails off the leash are ideal. Alternatively, you can use a retractable leash or long lead to allow them more freedom while maintaining control. The Shar Pei can be quite independent and may not be good off-leash.
Shar Pei Exercise Ideas
In addition to the daily walk, your Shar Pei will require other purposeful activity and free play. Separating this free play time into two to three short sessions during the day is best. This will aid in burning pent up energy and keeping their muscles strong.
Here are some suggestions of ways to provide exercise and purposeful activity for your Shar Pei.
Play with other dogs
Provide the opportunity for your Shar Pei to play with other dogs. This is not only great to burn energy and stimulate their mind, but teaches them important social skills. Some Shar pei are not good with other dogs. If you are unsure you should supervise the play.
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 Shar pei as it works the whole body and strengthens their muscles. 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 Shar Pei is another fantastic way to burn pent-up energy. The Shar Pei loves to chase and this is why they are not good with cats. A great alternative is to use an Automatic Ball Launcher so your dog can play Fetch by themselves. As the Shar Pei is trainable as long as you focus their attention they learn to use this with a little patience. For more information check out “Automatic Ball Launchers for Dogs”
Tug of War
Tug of war is a great strength-building game for all 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.
The purpose of strength-building exercises for dogs is not necessarily. to build muscle bulk. Strong muscles provide protection for the joints and tendons helping to prevent potential injury.
A spring pole is simply a spring connected to a rope that hangs from a tree branch or beam with a lure or toy attached to the end. This allows your dog to play tug of war with him or herself even if you are not there. Popular with a lot of dogs and particularly breeds like the Shar Pei that love a good game of tug of war.
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.
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 Shar Pei as they cater directly to their chase and natural prey instincts. See “Dog toys that move on their own” to learn more.
Mental Stimulation for a Shar Pei
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 are ideal for all dogs to challenge their minds and test their problem-solving skills. Due to their 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.
This automatic rolling treat ball from Petgeek is activated by a soft touch from your dog and can last for up to 7 hours. Requires two AAA batteries and goes into sleep mode after a period of no activity.
Provides physical exercise and mental stimulation as they figure out how to release the treats. Can hold up to 380ml of kibble or small treats(sized up to 0.3 inches). This is ideal for the home alone dog also.
View the Petgeek Automatic Rolling Ball on Amazon
In addition to puzzle toys, Kongs for dogs are another great way to get your Shar Pei to solve a problem and challenge the mind. Read “How to use a Kong for dogs“.
Scenting and nose games
All dogs can have 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 Shar Pei 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.
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 Shar Pei 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.
How much exercise does a Shar Pei puppy need?
The exercise suggestions above relate to a healthy adult dog. 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 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 Shar Pei 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 Shar pei puppy read “How to exercise your puppy”.
How much exercise does an older Shar pei 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.
Summary – Shar pei Exercise Needs
The Shar Pei is a moderately active and playful dog. Around 30 to 60 minutes of exercise a day is recommended. This should include a daily walk, additional purposeful activity, and free play and mental stimulation. Failure to provide to these needs can result in a bored and frustrated dog. This can lead to behavior issues such as barking, digging, escaping and destructive behavior.
Let us know in the comments how much and ways you exercise your Shar Pei.