When I was first researching Doberman ownership, behavior and expectations in 2019, I came across a common denominator. That denominator is that Dobermans require extensive daily exercise. The myth is: if the Doberman doesn’t get enough exercise, it will do it in other ways. Most likely resulting in destructive behavior. So, 9 months leading to the acquisition of Atlas, I psyched myself into believing that. For example, I would plan a daily walk twice a day, everyday. Once in the morning and again after work. Do Dobermans really require all that exercise? Or is it just recommendation than a requirement?
A High Energy Breed
I’ve worked remotely for over a year as of this writing. During this time, I had the opportunity to watch Atlas grow from a lapdog puppy to a 90 lb. beast. From my 18 month experience with Atlas, without a doubt, Dobermans are a high energy breed. Not in the sense that they are ultra hyper, yappy and jumpy all the time. They have high endurance, yes, and can easily keep up with you on miles long walk or hike. So in that respect, it is true that the Doberman is an active breed with seemingly unlimited energy. At the other end of the spectrum, they are perfectly content being couch potatoes. Chewing on their chew toys all day long, like Atlas, is enough “exercise.” But given a choice, Atlas would 100% choose to walk than be a couch potato.
High Energy and Drive During the Early Months
What I’ve come to witness is their energy level actually tapers off as they grow older. Their energy and drive is high when they are puppy, 8 weeks to 12 months. It peaks between the 6 to 9 month period (aka canine adolescent period, more on this in a separate article). All Atlas wanted to do was high energy activity during his adolescent months. He can go on six mile walks or hikes with absolutely no problem. And after we return from an outdoor activity, he still had the energy to run circles around our backyard.
After hitting the 1 year mark, Atlas’ drive began to gradually taper down. I noticed this when Atlas was around 13 months old. At 17 months old, Atlas is 100% content with just chilling in our living room and chewing on his favorite chew toys all day. After chewing his toys, he takes a nap on his dog bed. There were days where it rained 5 days a week and Atlas doesn’t go outdoors except to potty.
The amount of food he eats per day is also directly proportional to his activity level. He will eat his entire meal with no hesitation if he gets only his standard exercise in per day. A standard exercise is a 2 mile walk in the morning with a 6 lbs. weighted XDog vest. If he engage in extra activities, then he will demand more than his standard serving of food. However, Atlas is more than happy and willing to go on 10 mile walks or hike. And he can outpace us easily.
What About Destructive Behaviors From Lack of Exercise?
When Atlas was younger, he can be quite destructive if he doesn’t receive his daily exercise or mental stimulation. These destructive behaviors are generally:
- Chewing on things he’s not suppose to
- Digging 6″ deep holes in our backyard
- Intentionally urinating or defecating inside the house (big difference between intentional behavior and accidents)
These behaviors stemmed from anxiety mainly due to reduced mental stimulation. When Atlas was left alone in the backyard for a long period of time (3+ hours), these behaviors would manifest. However, after Atlas turned 1 year old, these destructive behaviors started to diminish. By the time he turned 15 months old, the aforementioned destructive behaviors disappeared. This didn’t happen on its own, we always corrected Atlas when he engaged in a destructive behavior. He also lives a very structured life. However, the frequency of destructive behavior gradually diminished from the 12th month to 15th month period.
Now at 17 months old, we can leave Atlas in our backyard for 10+ hours. And we can do so and not worry that he would dig up a hole or chew on patio furniture. When it’s time to return to the office, we don’t have to crate him or leave him at daycare.
Atlas’ Current Activities
Currently, Atlas receives a 2 mile walk every morning, at 6:00 AM, Monday through Friday. Dobermans after all, require their exercise. On the weekends, we walk him for 3 miles in the afternoon. It used to be a 3 mile walk in the morning and a 3 mile walk at night. We paused that schedule in mid December because the morning and evening can be quite cold. On the weekend, we also occasionally do 3+ mile hikes through differing terrains instead of walks.
In the near future when the weather is more accommodating, we will go on a new hiking trail every weekend. It’s good for Atlas’ mental state and body whenever he gets a good workout. I will document these hikes in a separate category.