Spring is on its way and what better time of year to spend some quality hours with your dog? Owning a dog is a real commitment – and we advise that you regularly re-evaluate just how much time and space are required to best meet the needs of your breed of dog. You may be thinking about moving house or taking on a new breed, or maybe you’d just like some guidance and inspiration on how to meet your pet’s needs better? Whichever way, why not read on to find out how much space you ideally need for your breed…
As a responsible dog owner, you’ll already be aware of the fact that some of the key requirements of any breed of dog (alongside their basic needs) are companionship and exercise. In fact, the PDSA recommends that dogs should never routinely be left alone for more than 4 hours1. And when playing with and exercising your dog, you need to think carefully about the space you have in which to do this.
Taking things back to absolute basics, you should regularly check and re-evaluate the space – both inside and outside of your home – that your dog requires. Whilst a home without an outside area is not the ideal solution for any breed, an indoor-only living space could potentially be made to work for a toy or small breed of dog if they have a highly committed owner, with enough time to lead-exercise their dog outdoors several times per day.
Obviously, if you don’t have a garden, you will need to be committed to not only taking your dog outside for its required amount of exercise each day but also on multiple other occasions to ensure your pet has the opportunity to relieve itself regularly. Even if you have a large house and a spacious garden, you will still need to ensure your dog has access to the space it needs and that its living and exercising areas aren’t dangerous spaces which are insecure or filled with clutter.
Ideally, a home which is suitable for dogs will entail not only enough indoor space but will also have a secure outdoor space that is large enough for your breed to play and run around in. This outdoor area should be securely fenced so your dog cannot run off, and it should be checked regularly for safety and security to ensure it is continuing to meet your pet’s needs.
As a general rule of thumb, the larger the breed of dog you own, the bigger the outside area they will benefit from. However, many committed owners make things work for medium and larger breeds with a more modest garden or yard, by walking and exercising them away from the house at least once per day (and usually more).
Inside your home, you will need to ensure there is enough space to fit dog beds, drinking bowls, and dog accessories (towels, brushes, coats, feeding bowls etc.). There should also be a secure storage area (which your pet cannot access independently) in which to store dog food, medications, toys and leads. It goes without saying that the larger the breed, the more space these items will take up, the dog beds will be bigger and larger dogs will eat and drink more — requiring bigger bowls and more sizeable equipment!
Larger dogs will also need more space inside to interact and play with their owner. All dogs will benefit from having their own personal area to which they can retreat when feeling unsure and in which they know they will not be disturbed. Many owners will leave an open dog crate available with a cosy bed in it to provide this secure space but other solutions can be made to work. As well as a safe space, you should also think about providing an area in which you can give your pet a regular wash and a groom.
When it comes to exercising your dog, every breed is different. All dogs will have individual variations in their exact needs and you will need to consider many factors, for example: are they are a working breed, a brachycephalic breed, a toy breed, a terrier, or do they have other characteristics or health factors that may influence their activity levels? As an example of breed differences, a Jack Russell may be of a similar size to a Yorkshire Terrier, however, you are likely to find that most Jack Russells would require considerably more exercise than most Yorkshire Terriers would. Therefore it is important to regularly refresh your memory on the requirements of each individual breed of dog you own, or are considering owning. Don’t rely on your pet’s size alone to determine their exercise needs.
For specific advice tailored to each unique breed of dog, why not visit the Kennel Club website for further information? If you’re looking for ideas and inspiration, you could also see if there are any “Discover Dogs” events running near you. These events offer you the opportunity to meet many different breeds of dogs and talk to some of their breeders directly for advice and ideas.
Finally, if you don’t own a pedigree dog, please don’t worry! Many of us delight in the companionship of mixed breed dogs and if you know a bit of the history behind your pet, you can calculate their exercise and space requirements by looking back at all the breeds that went into creating their unique character. Just remember, if you are taking on a mixed-breed puppy, they can grow very quickly, so it is important that you seek expert advice on how large they are likely to end up! Looking at the size and breed of the puppy’s mother can help provide a rough guide to their future size,
but if their father was much bigger or more active than their mother, remember this will play a significant role too.
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