How much exercise?Exercising on the lead only is not adequate exercise for Hovawarts. Exercise is a very important factor in a young hovawart's life; and whilst a hovawart puppy needs a lot of exercise, the owners work routines often conflict with that need. In the attempt to burn off some of his excess energy the result can be a potentially injurious period of intense exercise.
Take a 3 mile run, or a half hour of Frisbee for example; where a single puppy who lies around all day welcomes his owners in the evening, he is not prepared for either intense exercise, or the uncertainty of footing on slippery floors and the constant changing joint angulation. His muscle tone is only a fraction of the puppy who plays with other active dogs continually.
Continuous exercise is often impossible for owners to arrange, one consideration could be to restrict and avoid strenuous exercise which will exhaust his muscles and leave him unable to protect his joints from injury. The hovawart puppy and young dog should be given frequent moderate exercise instead, requiring a different kind of time commitment from the owner.
A homemade agility course can make play and exercise in the garden more fun.
Most Hovawarts will happily retrieve balls, dumbbells and so on, but it is more interesting to play with your hovawart in ways which bring some of his talents to the fore.
Jumps - make your own jump or hurdle by placing a broom or PVC pipe across two plastic buckets.(Do not make the jumps any higher than this for young hovawarts.) Hold a treat on one side, and encourage your dog to jump over.
Jump, sit, stay - create an "agility pause table" by placing a bench or piece of carpeted chipboard on four cement blocks. Teach your dog to jump onto the low table, then to sit or lie down for five seconds, then jump off.
Tunnel - try using a large plastic pipe, coax him inside it with a treat. Run alongside the tunnel or sit at the other end to persuade him through. Reward him with a game with a much loved toy or a treat when he comes through to you.
The dog's lead is an important piece of training equipment
We all use a lead or leash daily, so invest in a good one, it is an important connection to your hovawart. A good lead is extremely strong, yet soft. Good quality leather leads can be hard on the hands at first, so use something like "Mars Oil" or a similar product available at tack shops, to help soften the leather.
A useful lead length is around one and a half metres long; but the way to measure a lead for your personal use is to hold it by the handle at waist height, the clasp should be just laying flat on the ground, this length will benefit all training and lead work.
All basic training such as sit, stay, down, recall, sit stay, wait etc should initially be taught on a lead. Hovawart trainers are always emphasising the need to keep the lead relaxed. Should you tighten it up at the wrong moment you can send messages to your dog that can spark aggression, fear, or anxiety. Never jerk on your dog's lead to prevent contact with dogs or humans, this is not only painful and damaging to his neck, but it can also cause aggression.
When a Hovawart meets another dog and jumps towards it in pure happiness, and gets a strict “NO” and a jerk on the lead he will begin to associate the other dog with pain and aggression from his owner. In turn, this can cause the Hovawart to become over defensive and aggressive. You have caused the problem, and you will need to manage it and help your hovawart unlearn the behaviour; either with or without the help and guidance of a good trainer.