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Exercise Options and Advice for Feists

Nancy recently retired from teaching in the Alabama Community College System. She currently writes freelance articles about business, etc.


Exercise Options and Precautions for the High Energy Dog

One of the characteristics of the feist is its high activity level. They are extremely active little dogs. They not only like to exercise, but their bodies and minds demand a lot of it. The following suggestions are designed especially for the feist, but most would work well with any healthy, high energy dog.

One of the most important aspects of raising a feist—besides the obvious healthy diet and love—are a safe home environment that provides plenty of exercise. I’ve read recommendations of as little as 30 minutes per day of exercise. While each dog is different, 30 minutes a day wouldn’t have come close to meeting the needs of my pet. He probably spent several hours each day walking or running or jumping. A number of exercise options are available for owners. Because of the high energy level of these little dogs, selecting the best option for the dog is essential for the pet’s health, as well as for the owner’s peace of mind. I present the caveats along with the options because of the unique qualities of this dog breed.

The Back Yard

Fenced yards that are large enough for the dog to run freely at will are ideal. Add a few squirrels, lots of water, food, and shelter, and you have a dog retreat. Even with a fenced yard though, certain precautions need to be taken.

  1. Of course, you should check the fence for holes, loose boards, or gaps between the bottom of the fence and the ground. These will need to be repaired before putting the dog in the yard.
  2. Most dog owners are familiar with the usual habit of digging under a fence. However, few dog owners expect their pet to climb over the fence. The nimble Feist is able to do just that. Therefore, the owner must evaluate his or her fence in terms of accessibility for climbing. To determine the worthiness of the fence, examine any wire fence closely to assess its sturdiness. Almost any opening on a wire fence is a possible place for this nimble little creature to firmly fix his paws in place and go over the top. Chicken wire or hog wire (a wire with holes approximately four inches square) usually can be climbed quite readily by a feist. In fact, use caution concerning any wire fence if you have a feist.

An example of this type problem occurred with my Speck almost immediately after bringing him to my home. The yard was almost a half acre with an abundance of trees and squirrels, a dog’s ideal playground. It was enclosed on three sides with a six-foot wooden privacy fence that had extra supports along the bottom, making it almost impossible for a dog to dig out. He was safe---or so I thought. But when I left for work every morning, my little Feist wanted to explore the world outside his playground.

Even though the yard was surrounded on three sides by a tall privacy fence, my back fence was an easy out for this crafty little dog. The wooded lot had once been owned by a local farmer who had put up a four-foot high wire fence, called hog wire, years before I purchased the lot. I had left it in place. Within three days of coming to live with me, Speck had figured out how to climb this fence and leap over the top. In fact, within a short time, he had climbed it so often, the fence leaned outward. He could always get out, but he couldn’t climb over and get home.

The Leash

When my feist first came to live with me, he was already three years old and rather set in his ways.

Repeatedly, I attempted to put a leash on my stubborn little dog and every time, he won. Of course, obedience school might have helped; I’ll never know. So don’t count too heavily on walking this little dog if you haven’t tried him on a leash as a puppy. Your chances are far better if you’re dealing with a young feist.

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The Dog Park

Many cities now have dog parks, large fenced areas where you can take your dog for some free running and play time with other dogs. The feist is sociable with humans and other dogs, so your dog would probably do well. Check it out first, but these parks usually provide safe playgrounds. I would advise going to a dog park when you have ample time to allow the dog play until he’s tired enough to come back to you willingly.

When Speck came to live with me, he was not a puppy; therefore, some of the guidelines presented here didn’t work well for me. As I mentioned, a good obedience school could have made a difference. Exploring all the choices available and selecting those that work best for you and your pet will add years to the life of your Feist and provide both owner and pet with wonderful memories.

NOTE: In writing this article, I may have omitted other excellent options. Please post a comment if you have other suggestions, choices, or relevant experiences. I look forward to hearing from readers on this topic.


Nancy McLendon Scott (author) from Georgia on April 04, 2014:

I ran out of room----I know how you feel about not wanting your dog to run off and get run over. I really want another feist----I had to put speck to sleep when he was fourteen (about a year after this picture) because of severe arthritus. He cried all the time, and the vet said he had done all he could with him. I still miss him. Let me know if any of these suggestions are options. If not, I'll try to think of others. As I said, I'm dealing with a similar situation with this lab----huge---but a big stubborn baby. Keep me posted. Thanks.

Nancy McLendon Scott (author) from Georgia on April 04, 2014:

I'm having a similar problem now with my dog, a large 48 pound lab. I didn't choose him---he chose me. And I have got to have major foot surgery so I cannot walk him (and he hates leashes).

A couple of suggestions---if you are able to get to a doggie park a few times a week. Most are free, and maybe if your dog runs enough, she will be exhausted when you have to leave to come home. These places are supposed to be really good.

Anothe suggestion---is there anyone---a young person, teenager maybe, who is responsible who could take her with you along, to a doggie park?

Paul Herman on February 27, 2014:

Any suggestions for a Feist in a trailer park? I am having trouble with her slipping out, and running. I am not allowed fences, and am disabled (I got her before the disability), which makes it hard catching her. I really don't want to get rid of her.

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