The cavapoo is an energetic breed that benefits from daily exercise. On a normal day, a 30 minute to one hour’s walk a day is perfect for this small dog. That said, cavapoo owners who are are also keen hikers may wonder how far their cavapoo can comfortably walk over the course of a hiking weekend or vacation?
Despite having relatively small legs, cavapoos have bags of energy and are capable of long walks up to 10 miles per day, provided it’s not too hot, and they are fed and watered appropriately. Elderly dogs or cavapoos younger than 10 months old are not capable of such distances of course.
If the weather is cold, wet or snowy then you should prepare your cavapoo for the conditions accordingly (the same way that you’d prepare yourself) with a suitable, well-fitting dog coat.
If, whilst out on a long walk, your cavapoo is showing signs of tiredness then it’s important to stop for a break. If after a break your dog is still fatigued then you should try and carry them the rest of the way or consider cutting your walk short.
When it’s too cold and wet for a walk
Cavapoos crave time and attention from their owners, and for all dogs, a mental workout can be tiring and challenging enough to compensate for lack of exercise when the weather is atrocious or the daily walk is, for some reason, difficult to manage.
“The mind is…a fire to be kindled” – Plutarch
It is said that ten minutes of mental exercise can be as tiring for the dog as half an hour of tearing about. That is certainly my experience with my own dogs. When rain is trapped in the mist hanging at hedge-height, the paths are treacherous with mud, and a howling gale drowns your commands, “Hurray!” is the only response.
Training is a great stimulator
Training in a class is usually enormous fun for you and your dog. It normally begins as basic puppy training, at which you soon discover a range of benefits for both of you. Sitting, lying, waiting and returning to you are among the first lessons your puppy should learn, but today’s trainers are excellent at defusing your frustration when everyone else’s dog is performing with a saintly smirk and Fido decides to make you look the silliest handler in your hemisphere. Consulting a trainer if and when particular problems arise is invaluable. However, training is not necessarily for puppies only, and if more advanced courses are available, they are well worth the investment.
Before Lockdown and the closure of the barn where my dogs attend classes, my third collie pup Ruari was learning the rudiments of marching (right paw, left paw), and my eleven-year-old showed that you can teach an old dog new tricks as she mastered this extension to “Shake a paw,” easily. Some breeds of dog understand up to two hundred words, and they thoroughly enjoy the praise as much as the rewards when they have achieved yet another goal and you are delighted.
Keep home sessions short and reward with high-quality treats such as little pieces of cheese or sausage as this reinforces learning in between classes. Good trainers advocate an approach that coaxes your dog into adopting the behaviour you want. For example, when a puppy learns to sit, dangle the treat above his nose and move it backwards until, to follow its progress over his head, he has to lower his rear end, then praise and reward. This is far more fun for your dog than pushing his rear end down. He learns that the word, “sit,” accompanies this exercise, and in no time, he will sit to order. Walk him to his bed, shower him with treats when he lies on it, and you can soon send him to his bed on command. Follow-on training may involve activities from other disciplines such as scentwork or even heelwork to music (marching and “spin and twist” would qualify as both are effective ways of interpreting music) and gentle agility.
Cavapoos with agility courses
“Good things come to those who sweat” – Anonymous
The athletic tendencies of the cavapoo are often overlooked as they have been bred partly for their coats and partly for their sweet, biddable personalities. However, they are both lively and highly intelligent. Agility is among those good things that come to you both as you will probably be sweating profusely following your dog around a course.
I mentioned “gentle agility” as an activity included in training, and this is essential as your growing puppy should not be tackling a strenuous course for an adult dog until he is at least a year old. The disciplines on an adult course include weaving at speed between poles, contact equipment such as the A-frame (a double-sided ramp which the dog mounts and descends), tunnels, jumping over hurdles and even negotiating see-saws, although many dogs are unhappy about the fact that the plank tilts suddenly as soon as they reach the middle. Your dog may impress you by learning to distinguish between turning left and right or going ahead.
At competition level, speed is all, but there are many courses that teach agility for fun. My elderly collie is still keen to tackle a course, but, of course, she no longer jumps and she would not have the speed to be a winner. However, she is a joyful participant because it is mentally challenging. The owner needs to be reasonably fit. Naturally, you are not yourself weaving, jumping, climbing and rushing through tunnels, but you are guiding your dog with voice and hand signals. However, some dogs are highly trained to complete the course by obeying vocal commands only, so take heart. At a hundred and three, you too could be the acclaimed trainer of the winning cavapoo, with rosettes adorning your zimmer.
Rally with cavapoos
Forget cars vanishing in a cloud of dust as they speed to victory. Rally for dogs is the most recent sport to be recognised by The Kennel Club and is sufficiently gentle to be accessible to the less active. I have met a lovely older lady who uses sticks for walking but nevertheless took her dog to rally where I took mine. A word of warning: be aware that it may be held outside and on rough terrain, so if you are sensitive to the cold and damp or liable to fall, look for a more suitable venue.
Rally involves walking around a course marked with signs indicating what command you should give your dog. Commands range from the usual “sit,” to turning with your dog, turning in the opposite direction from your dog, or guiding him to perform a German or English “finish” (crossing behind you from right to left or turning around entirely on your left side before, in both cases, sitting at your side). Note that this is a mental workout for owners as the signs, at least initially, take some interpreting. They involve arrows on sticks curving in all directions, squares, circles, triangles – the nightmare is endless. Know your right from your left!
Rally is excellent for strengthening the bond between you and your dog and, just as you are not usually at a disadvantage for being that much older and less active, so your dog can take part at any age. It did prove too sedate for one of my collies when younger, but plenty of training has encouraged her to become one of the calmest, most affectionate pets you could have. She might enjoy herself at rally now that she is nearly three, although agility appeals to her liveliness when out of the house.
All these are but a taster of the many organised activities you might like to try with your cavapoo. Alas! I cannot comment on heelwork to music as classes take place in the neighbouring county, far further than I wish to travel at the end of a day.
Don’t forget the excellent toys you can buy for throwing, cuddling and providing mental stimulation. There are rubber tops and cones with a weighted base, or balls with an aperture that you can increase or decrease, all of which make your dog work for his treats. Just make sure that there are no sharp edges, and that they are chew-proof if your dogs are heavy chewers.
There are also many ways in which you can enliven the day for your dog without spending money. For example, you can chuck dried food on the lawn and let your dog forage. Hide food in an empty cereal packet in a rubber cone or another, smaller packet, as long as the cardboard is of food grade. A stimulated dog is a happy dog that is learning about you, as you as learning about him. If you are really his best friend, you can have the satisfaction of knowing that you have earned it.