Keeping your Scottie Physically and Mentally Fit

The following is an excerpt from "The Complete Guide to Scottish Terriers" by Tracey Squaire. For more information visit the books Amazon Page.

Author Credit: Tracey Squaire

Scottish Terrier Exercise Requirements

Like anything in life, the only way to make sure your dog has daily exercise is to make his daily exercise part of your daily routine. Even 30 minutes of walking is hard to fit into a busy day if you haven’t already made it a priority. When you choose to accept an animal into your life, monetary resources aren’t the only thing you’re sacrificing to enjoy the company of your Scottish Terrier.

Scottish Terriers require daily mental and physical stimulation, and both are vital to the growth and development of your dog. Dogs without sufficient exercise are at higher risk for obesity, frustration, and behavioral problems. Without an outlet to release his natural energy, your dog will either use that energy however he can within your home or he will lose that energy as his body becomes used to a soft, too-easy life.

Scottish terrier black
Photo Courtesy – Dadan Chavis

Scottish Terriers are small dogs, so the moment you notice your dog’s small frame expanding, visit your veterinarian to rule out health problems, then set your pup on an exercise schedules. Withdrawn behavior can result from lack of sufficient mental and physical stimulation, so your veterinarian may diagnose your Scottie with depression and recommend treatment.

Scottish Terriers have short legs, but these dogs were bred to hunt and fight; they have plenty of energy, and although a daily half hour walk is sufficient to meet the exercise requirements for these pups (along with regular play), Scotties do love long walks at times, and your Scottish Terrier may have come from a line that has even recently been competing in agility shows.

Different Types of Exercise to Try

If you’re unsure where to start with exercising your Scottish Terrier, simply visit your veterinarian for a health checkup, and she can recommend an exercise routine based on your dog’s breed, age, and health.

There are as many ways to exercise your dog as you’re willing to invest your time in. If your schedule is busy, try planning your own exercise time during your dog’s exercise time. Ensuring your Scottish Terrier is properly exercised can help you to ensure the same for yourself.

Here’s the basic routine I aim to complete with my Beagle every day. Some days we do more than listed, and some days we do less. It depends on the weather and our energy level, but we try to do as much as we can, as should you and your Scottish Terrier. Exercise is important for your and your dog’s long-term health, so make it a priority in your life.

7:15 AM — 15-30 minute walk: Wake up and prepare yourselves for the day. Take doggy bags, especially if your Scottie has had his breakfast already.
9:00 AM — 10-15 minute backyard play Between the first walk and now, free play is acceptable. This scheduled time is specifically for me to socialize my dog. We do dancing and agility exercises sometimes, but fetch is a typical game of ours.
12:30 PM — 20-40 minute walk An after-lunch walk for you and perhaps for your pup if you’ve scheduled his meals as such. Length of walk time depends on weather and energy. Some days are hotter than others and, therefore, more draining.
3:30 PM — 15-25 minute backyard play This longer session is meant to allow us to get as much sun as possible before the later part of the day. Arthur and I may lounge on a blanket with our cats after playtime.
6:30 PM — Feeding + 15-30 minute backyard play The sun sometimes doesn’t set until 8:00 p.m. during a Florida summer, but I like to keep a consistent routine. It’s the last outside playtime before bed, so make it count! While there may be trips outside after this time, this is the last of our outside time.


Scottish terrier fetching
Photo Courtesy – Aaron Gordon

Walking and backyard play are just the tip of the iceberg. A brisk daily walk or game of fetch can benefit both you and your pup, but you can also implement dancing, doggy yoga, or team agility exercises into your daily routine. Agility exercises specifically are great for your dog’s mental and physical health, so consider investing in agility equipment for your Scottie.

You can make your own agility course in your backyard and set your own rules for how agility games are won. You can also place your pup in an agility group or class where he can interact with and learn from other agility dogs. To avoid injury, spend time warming up before beginning any exercise with your dog.

Importance of Mental Exercise

Even after meeting your Scottie’s basic physical needs, you should allot part of your daily life to ensuring your animal companion doesn’t spend all his time bored and lounging in front of a window all day, moving only to bark at the occasional passerby. Unfortunately, many dogs spend every day in this manner with minimal physical or mental stimulation.

Scottish terrier toy
Photo Courtesy – Verna Bardsley

Mental stimulation is equally as important as physical stimulation, if not more so. Without proper mental stimulation, your dog may not even feel the need to partake in physical stimulation. No matter the age of your Scottish Terrier, you should spend time every day stimulating your dog’s mind.

Mental stimulation alleviates the effects of boredom which can include withdrawn behavior, destructive behavior, anxious behavior, or hyperactive behavior. Additionally, mental stimulation is important for your dog’s happiness. This necessary stimulation must come from the members of your pack either directly or through activities your Scottie is allowed to participate in.

Mental exercise can be achieved either during physical exercise or in its own separate time. Going down new paths when walking or showing your pup a new way to get to a familiar location is one way you can mentally stimulate your Scottish terrier. Creating or purchase dog puzzles is another way to provide mental stimulation.

A smell-based scavenger hunt is always fun and is both mentally and physically stimulating. Your dog’s nose is way stronger than yours, and your Scottie will love digging through preapproved areas of your yard to find the special toy or treat you’ve left for him. This exercise is also a good way to teach your pup the appropriate digging places in your yard.

Tips for Keeping Your Scottish Terrier Occupied

You can’t always be around to stimulate your Scottish Terrier, and neither should you provide all of his stimulation. Your Scottish Terrier is already independent, and that independence will help him to keep himself entertained when you are otherwise engaged.

There are so many options on the market for occupying your dog such as mats in which you can hide snacks for your Scottie to dig out of hiding or toys that make sounds that will stimulate your dog’s auditory senses or even videos designed to keep your dog relaxed and entertained.

Scottish terrier grass
Photo Courtesy – Ann Marie French

If I’m home with my Beagle, I prefer not to spend the whole day in the same room with him because we both become attached. I set up a play area for him in another room with interactive toys such as balls that move on their own to convince dogs to play. I also put a doggy TV YouTube video on in the background to set the tone for playtime.

Consider cultivating a specific playtime experience for your Scottish Terrier. An inside scavenger hunt can keep him occupied for a good while if the treasures he finds are worth the work of tracking. A pile of safe-for-play pillows or blankets make a good hiding spot for several treats and toys, or you can purchase a dog toy that simulates a digging area for your Scottie.

When outside, a simple sandbox can keep your Scottie occupied and out of your garden. Set up a DIY agility dog course in your backyard. You don’t need fancy equipment as long as you have something your Scottie can run around to avoid or climb and jump over.

All of these ideas can help keep your pup occupied, but don’t forget the other members of your pack! If you properly socialize your other dogs or your cats, they can keep each other entertained while you’re busy. My Beagle and my cats enjoy playing together, though the cats do have a limit to how much doggy play they can stand.

Make sure your Scottish Terrier knows how to play safely and nicely with your cats, and for the first few dog/cat playtimes, watch as your cats show your Scottish Terrier their boundaries for playtime. After you can be sure they’re all playing nicely, you can trust your cats to keep your Scottish Terrier occupied.

To read more from "The Complete Guide to Scottish Terriers" by Tracey Squaire, or purchase on Amazon, visit the link below:

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