Shiba Inu Exercise Needs Guide and Ideas

shiba inu exercise

The Shiba Inu is a Japanese breed that wad originally bred as a hunting dog to flush birds and small game.

They are spirited and can be a challenge. Training is extremely essential. The Shiba Inu is energetic and has a high prey drive. This often means that they can not be trusted off-leash. They are also very intelligent and learn quickly.

How much exercise does a Shiba Inu need

The Shiba Inu requires at least one hour of exercise every day or they will become frustrated. This can result in destructive or even aggressive behavior. Due to their intelligence, they require plenty of mental stimulation and enrichment.

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

  • 1. Daily walk
  • 2. Purposeful Activity (see Shiba Inu exercise ideas below)
  • 3. Mental stimulation

This recommended exercise quantity and ideas are for a healthy adult Shiba Inu. The exercise needs of a puppy are different as they are still growing. 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 Shiba Inu 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. See the bottom of this post for more on the exercise needs of an older dog.

Shiba Inu Walking

Shiba Inu on a leash

The daily walk is essential for a Shiba Inu not only to release some pent-up energy. The walk allows your Shiba Inu to stimulate the mind with the sights, sounds and smells they come across. It also provides social enrichment, improves their bond with you and is a good training opportunity.

The length of the daily walk should ideally be 45 minutes or longer, up to an hour. 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.

Due to their high prey drive, they generally are not good off-leash. To give them more freedom you can use a long line or retractable leash. Shiba Inu can learn to tolerant other dogs if they are socialized young. However, many Shiba Inus are not friendly with other dogs and can become aggressive.

Shiba Inu Exercise Ideas

Fetch

Playing Fetch with your dog is another fantastic way to burn pent-up energy. Many Shiba Inus love to play with balls. Even if your Shiba Inu isn’t ball orientated you can still play fetch using their favorite toy.

Dogs 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 Shiba Inus are smart and very trainable they can be taught to use one of these. For more information check out “Automatic Ball Launchers for Dogs

Flirt Pole

A flirt pole is like a big cat tickler with a stick, rope, and a lure or toy attached to the end. Move the lure around in circles or in all directions along the ground and your dog will chase it. Works with the dog’s natural prey instinct so it will provide plenty of mental stimulation too. For a full guide to flirt pole exercise for dogs see here.

A Flirt Pole is also a great training tool for teaching a dog impulse control. See the video below for more.

View Flirt Poles on Amazon

Backyard Agility

Shiba Inus are good at this type of activity due to their excellent 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.

Stair Exercise

A good energy burner and muscle strengthener 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. Have them return down the stairs at a slower pace to avoid injury.

Walking upstairs or a hill strengthens the 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.

Dog toys that move on their own

There are many dog toys available that shake, rattle, roll and move about on their own. The movement of the toy is engaging for a dog and provide enrichment and get them moving. These type of toys appeal to Shiba Inus due to their high prey drive.  See “Dog toys that move on their own” to learn more.

The Varram Pet Robot is a great example of these types of toy.

Varram Pet Robot

The Varram Pet Fitness Robot is the newest of the automatic chase toys for dogs and cats. This device is super smart and ideal to keep your dog active when home alone. Using an app on your iPhone or Android you can schedule when to activate or have it in sleep mode. It also can sense when your pet is near wanting to play. It also has an obstacle avoidance ability and can learn where obstacles are.

The Varram Pet Robot has a few more functions than the other smart chase toys shown below, and as a result, is a little more expensive. It has a built-in treat dispenser to reward your dog for playing. It also provides all the stats and reports on the smartphone app such as monitoring your dog’s activity and how many treats were dispensed.

View the Varram Pet Fitness Robot on Amazon.

Digging

Many Shiba Inus are diggers. Provide your Shiba Inu with their own digging area or a digging box. Simply fill up a Sand Box with soil or sand, hide some chews or toys in it to encourage them to dig only there. If you choose to use sand be aware that the sand can get quite hot in the warmer weather. Just wet down the sand before allowing your dog to use it. Check out the range of Sand Pits on Amazon.

For indoor use, the latest toy for dogs that dig is the iDig Go from the people that have brought you the iFetch automatic ball launcher. See “Automatic ball launchers for dogs” to learn more.

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 Dog toys for diggers see here.

Tug of War

A firm favorite of many Shiba Inus.  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.

Spring Pole

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 that love a good game of tug of war.

View Spring Poles on Amazon

Shiba Inu Mental Stimulation and Enrichment

All dogs need an outlet for their minds, especially highly intelligent breeds like the Shiba Inu. 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 Shiba Inu to challenge their minds and test their problem-solving skills.  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 Shiba Inu to solve a problem and challenge the mind. Read “How to use a Kong for dogs“.

Scenting and nose games

Shiba Inus, like all dogs, 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.

Chew Toys

Provide your Shiba toys 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.

Shiba Inus can have a reputation for chewing things they shouldn’t like furniture. Ensuring they have plenty of their own toys to chew on will help prevent this.

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. The Shiba Inu learns quickly. Teach them new commands, tricks and even games. 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 Shiba Inu 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.

Shiba Inu Puppy Exercise

Puppy Shiba Inu on the couch

The exercise suggestions above relate to a healthy adult Shiba Inu. 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. Any 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 Shiba Inus can be unfriendly or even aggressive with other dogs it is important to socialize them young.

As your Sheba Inu 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 Shiba Inu 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 Shiba Inu puppy read “How to exercise your puppy

Exercise for an older senior Shiba Inu

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.

Shiba Inus are also a breed that is prone to hip dysplasia. Read “Exercise for a dog with hip dysplasia” to learn more.

Summary – Shiba Inu Exercise Requirements

The Shiba Inu requires at least one hour of exercise every day or they will become frustrated. This can result in destructive or even aggressive behavior. This should include a walk of around 45 minutes and other purposeful activities and games.

Due to their intelligence, Shiba Inus also require plenty of mental stimulation and enrichment.

Let us know in the comments how much and ways your exercise your Shiba Inu.

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