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Small dog training – exercise

My current foster dog is a tan Pomeranian mix I named Elli. I can’t tell you how cute and sweet she is. She wants to be with me at all times, and she will be a great companion for the right person.

Elli gets along with my mutt Ace, and she does not bother my cats. She knows sit, shake and comes when called. She also seems to be housebroken. No dog is perfect, though, including Elli. Her main issue right now is being too anxious.

Elli’s “issues” are typical of most small dogs. She is energetic, nervous, has no attention span and has never been given any rules. What I share about Elli can be applied to thousands of other dogs out there who have been spoiled, coddled and treated like children all their lives.

Small dogs need a lot of exercise

When I went to meet Elli and bring her home Friday, I knew nothing about her other than her breed. She was rescued from a pound by a dog rescue in Fargo the day she was scheduled to be euthanized.


Whenever I take in a new foster dog, the best thing I can do for that dog instantly is to take her on a long walk with Ace. The size of the dog does not matter. Some small dogs actually need more exercise than big dogs.

I introduced Ace and Elli on a quick walk, and then we drove to a park where we could more conveniently and enjoyably go for a longer, 45-minute walk. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the longest walk Elli had ever been on at that point.

Ideally, I should’ve walked even longer. Elli is a very high-energy dog, and she has a lot of anxiety from being impounded and separated from whatever life she once had.

Walking together is important for Elli, Ace and I to create a bond or a “pack” and for me to establish leadership. Elli is never allowed to walk in front. She is always required to walk at my side. My boyfriend Josh even joined us on a walk that first night. It’s important for Elli to see leadership and consistency from Josh as well as me.

I expect Elli to find a home fairly quickly. But until then, my goal is to work with her on any issues that come up, and to treat her like a dog, not a human.

Elli’s main issues so far include:

– An unhealthy attachment to me and therefore separation anxiety and possessiveness

– No attention span

– High energy

– Extreme anxiety in the car

I will focus on all of these small dog training issues in future posts, but for right now I am focusing on what Elli needs most of all, exercise.

Biking with a small dog

Elli 2

Elli is only about 10 pounds, and she has endless energy. Walking her is not enough, so I took her for her first biking session last night. She absolutely loved it, and ran like a pro!

Of course, because of her size I had to be very careful and aware of her at all times. I held her leash rather than use my dog bike leash so I could control her easier.

Some dogs need a lot of time to get used to a bike, but Elli knew exactly what I wanted her to do.

It was very rewarding to see this little dog working on something successfully and being so proud of herself.

Putting Elli to work gave her a challenge, a purpose and something to focus on. She did not feel anxious, and for once she was acting like a normal dog.

I only biked with Elli for a mile because I wanted to make sure her paw pads could handle running on concrete. Her paws were fine, so today we will go further. As long as her paws are OK, she will easily be able to run 2 or 3 miles.

I wish more people would realize how much exercise some little dogs need. As a dog walker, I know a Jack Russell that runs 10 miles at a time. Most little dogs have so much energy and pull so hard on walks that they are practically walking on their hind legs.

I don’t have a lot of patience for a dog that is constantly pacing, crying and unable to sit for more than a second. Providing Elli with a lot of exercise is the first step to helping her calm down and live a more relaxing life! That means more relaxing for me as well as her!

THAT MUTT: A Dog Blog » Shock collars for dog training

Wednesday 26th of May 2010

[...] fostered a Pomeranian mix named Elli who was terrified of being alone in the car. Whenever I opened or closed a car door she [...]

Lindsay Stordahl

Sunday 15th of November 2009

The little guys can run surprisingly fast and for longer distances than most people think. It sounds like Eddie had a blast running with you :)

Although shihtzus are generally calm dogs that are satisfied with a walk, Eddie could easily do one mile each day or as often as you are willing to take him. Try increasing that distance slowly to 1.5 miles and then 2 miles. Or, run with him to burn off extra energy and then walk home.

You know your dog and his energy levels better than anyone. Just pay close attention to him and slow down when he seems tired. And I'm sure you know, but keep an eye on those paw pads, especially if he is not used to running.

You will find that the extra exercise will make him a calmer and happier dog.

Cindy Weisert

Sunday 15th of November 2009


I've become so intrigued with running with my dogs, you wouldn't believe it. Pearl and I are up to 2.3 miles now. Bear, well, we walk a mile, as he is older and out of shape. Shih-Tzu, has AMAZED me! I gave him a go at running. He can EASILY run a 9:00min/mile for a good mile! I had to slow down, as he would run to death, or run ME to death! I couldn't believe it! I honestly NEVER thought I could run with a little dog. Although, Pearl is in training to become my full time year round running partner, I believe Eddie is a serious contender for becoming a regular in-town, short route runner. How would you proceed to train a little guy like Eddie? What would a realistic distance be for running him? how often?

You have a wonderful blog, by the way! :) Cindy

Lindsay Stordahl

Monday 9th of November 2009

Yeah, the bigger dogs are often much, much more laid back. I like how you said Biggie gets tired from guarding even though he is just standing there! Ha! But it's true, a mental workout is often better than a physical workout.


Monday 9th of November 2009

You are so right that sometimes little dogs need soooo much more exercise. Their energy levels are just so different!

Biggie only likes to run on his own terms! He can go forever, but I don't want to load his joints too much. Luckily, giving him a chance to guard once in a while also tires him out, even though he's just standing there.