Boykin Spaniels are sporting dogs, bred to endure the physical exertion required for spending hours and hours in the hunting field. Needless to say, Boykin Spaniels naturally have tons of energy. As a responsible owner, you might find it challenging to come up with new ways to meet your Boykin Spaniel’s exercise requirements.
13 amazing ways to exercise a Boykin Spaniel
- Agility Training
- Dock Diving
- Dog Park
- Rally Training
- Spaniel Field Trials
If a Boykin Spaniel does not receive sufficient exercise, its pent-up energy can vent itself in nuisance or destructive behaviors such as barking, digging, or chewing. Furthermore, exercise is required to keep a Boykin Spaniel in good health. Below are thirteen excellent methods of exercising your Boykin Spaniel.
How Much Exercise Does A Boykin Spaniel Need?
An adult Boykin Spaniel requires a minimum of one to two hours of exercise every day. The exercise needs to be of a moderate to high level of intensity for the Boykin Spaniel to derive the most benefit from these times. It is best to exercise your Boykin Spaniel at least twice a day.
Young Boykin Spaniel puppies will require less exercise than a fully grown adult. Over-exercising a puppy can damage their immature joints and muscles.
Additionally, senior Boykin Spaniels will slow down naturally and require less physical activity. As with puppies, an old Spaniel can suffer from adverse health effects if they are over-exercised.
Another factor to remember when it comes to exercising your Boykin Spaniel is that energy does not equal condition. So, even if your Boykin Spaniel is bouncing off the walls, it does not mean that they can handle a five-hour hike right off the bat.
You will need to train your Boykin Spaniel, increasing their condition to handle whatever exercise you are giving them. If you start training your Spaniel when it is a puppy, this gradual conditioning should happen naturally.
Exercise-Induced Collapse In Boykin Spaniels
Exercise-induced collapse is a genetic disorder, and certain breeds of dogs are predisposed to it, including Boykin Spaniels.
In exercise-induced collapse, strenuous or excessive exercise leads to neuromuscular dysfunction. Symptoms include muscle weakness, a loss of coordination, and collapse. It can be very frightening to see, especially when you don’t know what is happening.
Cases of exercise-induced collapse range from mild to severe, and in severe cases, the dog can die as a result of this condition, even if they are otherwise completely healthy.
According to UCDavis: “affected dogs tolerate mild to moderate activity but will display signs of [exercise-induced collapse] after 5-20 minutes of strenuous exercise”. Episodes of partial or total collapse can last anywhere from 5 minutes to 25 minutes, after which the Boykin Spaniel will begin to recover slowly.
The episode will continue to progress as long as the exercise continues, so if your Boykin Spaniel shows any signs of neuromuscular dysfunction, you need to stop the exercise immediately.
Not all Boykin Spaniels will suffer from the disorder, but because they are predisposed, it is wise to observe your dog carefully during any strenuous exercise, even if it is just them playing outside in the yard.
You can have your dog’s DNA tested for the genetic markers of exercise-induced collapse. The disorder is carried on an allele (E). If a Boykin Spaniel has two E alleles (one from each parent), the condition will manifest. If they have zero or one E, then the disorder will not manifest.
If you plan to breed with your Boykin Spaniel, you need to have them tested for exercise-induced collapse. If they have it, do not use them for breeding. If they do not have it, but they carry one E allele, you still should not breed them because if two dogs with one E allele are bred together, their offspring are at a higher risk of developing the exercise disorder.
Furthermore, if you are buying from a breeder, ensure that the parents have tested negative for the E allele.
1. Agility Training With Your Boykin Spaniel
Agility training involves teaching your Boykin Spaniel how to navigate obstacle courses typically consisting of jumps, tunnels, ramps, etc. Some people just do it for fun with their Spaniels, but others enter their dogs in Agility competitions. To win the competitions, you and your Boykin Spaniel will need to complete the obstacle course fast and with as few faults as possible. You can learn more about Agility trials from the American Kennel Club.
It can be a really fun and unifying experience for you and your Boykin Spaniel, and, of course, it is a great way to give your Spaniel exercise! The speed and precision required will provide both physical and mental stimulation for your Spaniel.
You can take your Boykin Spaniel to classes, or you can set up an agility course at home in your yard and train your dog yourself.
2. Cycling With Your Boykin Spaniel
If you are an avid cyclist, you do not have to leave your Boykin Spaniel behind. A healthy and conditioned adult Spaniel can run up to four miles quite easily, but you can build this up if you cycle for longer distances.
You will need to train your Boykin Spaniel to run alongside your bicycle; otherwise, you or your Boykin may end up getting hurt.
When you are cycling and holding onto a leash, you have to make sure that your dog will not run off to the side, suddenly cross in front of you, or stop running without warning. You also have to be vigilant to ensure that the leash does not get caught in the wheels or chain.
Alternatively, you can train your Boykin Spaniel to run beside you off-leash. As hunting dogs, Boykin Spaniels have a high prey drive, so you need to make sure that your Spaniel will not dash off in pursuit of a bird or rabbit when they are off-leash.
3. Dock Diving With Your Boykin Spaniel
Boykin Spaniels love water, so dock diving is a perfect way to give them a workout. This activity is also an ideal choice if you cannot engage in the same level of exercise as your Spaniel, such as is required with something like cycling with your Spaniel.
Dock diving is a field of canine sport in which a dog leaps off a dock into a body of water after a toy. You can think of it as the water version of fetch. Dock diving is also a competitive sport (check out the video below). The aim is to get your dog to leap as far off the dock as possible—the dog who jumps the furthest wins.
4. Dog Park Outings With Your Boykin Spaniel
If you live in a home with a small yard, or even if you just want a change of scenery, take your Boykin Spaniel to a dog park to explore and exercise. In a designated dog park, your Boykin Spaniel can run off-leash and play with other dogs (if trained properly).
The great part about this type of outing is that your Spaniel gets exercise, but they also have a chance to socialize with other dogs, which helps to make your Boykin Spaniel well-balanced.
5. Hiking With Your Boykin Spaniel
If nature calls to you and you are happiest out on the hiking trails, a Boykin Spaniel is the perfect companion. With proper conditioning, they can easily handle half a day’s hiking.
The physical exertion for your Spaniel will be coupled with plenty of mental stimulation. After all, the creatures, smells, sights, and sounds that you find on a hiking trail are entirely different from those at home or in a park.
Make sure your backpack contains provisions for your canine buddy as well as yourself. You can even buy them their own backpack to carry a few light items themselves.
6. Hunting With Your Boykin Spaniel
Hunting is not likely to be something you do on a daily basis. Still, it is an excellent weekend activity for you and your Boykin Spaniel to engage in as a pair or as a part of a larger community group. Furthermore, you can exercise your dog during the week by training them for hunting trips.
Spaniels are bred to be a hunter’s companion. They are what are known as flushing bird dogs. This means that they find the birds that are hiding in the grass or on the water. They rush at their quarry, causing them to take flight so that the hunters can see and shoot them. Spaniels are also trained to watch where the downed bird falls and to retrieve it in their soft mouths.
Hunting is a great endurance exercise for your Boykin Spaniel. There’s not a lot of running involved, but the hours can be long.
7. Playtime With Your Boykin Spaniel
Exercise does not have to look like a certain number of miles walked or run. Your Boykin Spaniel can get plenty of exercise from a good play session. However, you will have to put aside more than five or ten minutes to play with your Spaniel for it to be effective as an energy-burning activity.
Fetch, tug-of-war, frisbee, etc., are all great options, and your dog will love that you are spending time playing with them.
8. Rally Training With Your Boykin Spaniel
Rally is a team sport between you and your Boykin Spaniel. It is a form of obedience training, and rally competitions are enjoyed by many (participants and spectators). In Rally, you and your Boykin will be presented with signs on a course. These signs will instruct you to perform a specific maneuver.
Even though Rally does not require vigorous exercise, the training for Rally can be an excellent activity for your dog as you go through the maneuvers again and again. It provides great mental stimulation, too, and will strengthen the bond between you and your Boykin Spaniel.
Because Rally is not too strenuous, it may be the ideal choice if your Boykin Spaniel suffers from exercise-induced collapse but speak to your veterinarian to discuss the potential risks.
9. Running With Your Boykin Spaniel
Runners will find an excellent companion in a Boykin Spaniel. As mentioned previously, a healthy and conditioned adult Spaniel can run up to four miles or more.
You can run on-leash or off-leash, but both options will require a level of training to keep both you and your Boykin Spaniel safe. Another option is to try Canicross. In Canicross, both you and your dog will wear a harness linked by a leash. It allows you to run your Boykin Spaniel on-leash but keeps your hands free.
10. Spaniel Field Trials With Your Boykin Spaniel
The Spaniel Field Trials are very similar to hunting, but it is a competition in which you and your Boykin Spaniel are judged on specific points. Training, practicing, and participating in Spaniel Field Trials will all provide your Boykin Spaniel with excellent exercise.
11. Swimming With Your Boykin Spaniel
As mentioned earlier, Boykin Spaniels are very happy playing in the water. If you have a swimming pool, you will probably find that they take themselves for a swim frequently.
Swimming is gentle on joints, so it can be the perfect exercise for an immature dog. Furthermore, on those hot summer days, swimming will ensure that your Boykin Spaniel stays nice and cool while they exercise.
A note of caution: keep your Boykin Spaniel locked away from the pool while you put chlorine in it.
Throwing chlorine into the swimming pool can look just like a game to your dog, and there are many stories about dogs getting chlorine powder in their mouths as they try to catch it. This is incredibly dangerous for your Boykin Spaniel. Additionally, it is best if your Spaniel does not swim in a pool that has just had chemicals added to it.
12. Tracking With Your Boykin Spaniel
Tracking is something you will need to train your Boykin Spaniel to do. They will naturally trace what catches their fancy, but purposeful tracking requires a focused approach.
You can do the training for tracking yourself at home, or you can take them to classes. Tracking is also a canine sport for which competitions are held. So, if you enjoy competing or you just like the community that surrounds a sport, tracking can be a great exercise option for your Boykin Spaniel.
If you train your Boykin Spaniel to track, you can even investigate joining a volunteer search and rescue team in your area. Boykin Spaniels love having a job to do, and what is a more rewarding task for both you and your dog than saving lives!
13. Walking With Your Boykin Spaniel
Let’s not forget about the age-old classic—walking. Even though Boykin Spaniels have lots of energy, this does not make walking too sedate or ineffective as a form of exercise. It is also perfect for dogs with exercise-induced collapse because you can easily control how strenuous the exercise session is. Furthermore, young Boykins, senior Boykins, and unfit Boykins can all benefit from walking without fear of injury or strain.
Sometimes walking can become dull, so why not try to find the best walking trails in your area, or just mix things up by walking a different route each day.
Meeting the exercise requirements of an energetic sporting dog like the Boykin Spaniel can seem like a daunting task—but it’s not! If you are an active dog owner and love walking, running, cycling, or hiking, then your Boykin Spaniel can make a great workout partner.
There are also several canine sports to which Boykin Spaniels are suited, including hunting, Rally, and Agility. Dock diving and swimming provide exercise and allow your Boykin Spaniel to be in the water—which they love.
Boykin Spaniels require at least one or two hours of moderate to strenuous exercise a day, but you need to observe them carefully for signs of exercise-induced collapse. It is best to get them tested for the condition, as knowing, either way, brings peace of mind to you and allows you the best chance to keep your Boykin healthy.