I've been involved with Texas GSP Rescue for 7 years now. When I started I had 3 of my own non-GSP dogs and along the way I've added 2 GSPs to my family. My non-GSPs include a Great Dane mix, an Australian Shepherd mix and a Yellow Lab. I had always been conscious of taking them on walks and I do really enjoy running with my dogs, however, my dogs and their exercise needs had not necessarily prepared me for GSP ownership.
Both Deringer and Hanna joined my family in the last three years and initially upon adopting Deringer my husband and I thought, "Wow! We've found the lowest energy GSP there is!" Turns out, that was not entirely accurate. Deringer is the most snuggly, soulful dog that we've ever owned and he is extremely low energy in the house, but he, like every GSP, has an energy outlet that needs to be respected. Hanna is a member of the MO 75 and although annoying, it is rewarding to see her acting as a mischevious, too-smart-for-her-own-good, normal GSP that has too much energy and won't stay in the yard.
For a long period of time, we did a good job of running every other morning with the GSPs for one and a half to two miles. That didn't necessarily wear them out (like it did me :) but it was sufficient, along with some additional walks during the week and playtime out in the backyard to keep them well behaved.
If we missed a few of these jogs in a row, Deringer's extra energy was misplaced somewhere around the house - he has a love of tearing up dog beds and pulling any blanket/towel or laundry room item he can locate out of the dog door and shredding it in the yard. Those activities were kept in check when we were getting him the level of exercise he needed, but would quickly pop up when we failed to do so.
Eventually there came a time when we became less committed to running every other morning and Deringer and Hanna quickly found other ways to use that energy. Our house fast became one where every day we had to figure out how to keep the GSPs in the yard. We have a privacy fence, which we replaced so it would be more sturdy. We have an invisible fence for which both GSPs have collars. Hanna is completely unconcerned about the shock she receives when she goes over the fence. We have installed chicken wire all along the bottom of the fence, as Deringer had begun to dig out of the yard. That seemed to deter him until he managed to figure out how to get over the fence. Each day we would come home to two GSPs missing and our latest addition to the backyard had been outsmarted by the pointers. They would always show up at dinner time and thankfully nothing bad ever befell them, but each time I felt like an awful dog owner and swore to keep them crated inside so that nothing bad would happen to them. Eventually that didn't do the trick either and they were leaving the fence while we were at home. It was unfortunately obvious that their destructive behaviors in the house, as well as fence-jumping was a direct result of our failure to provide them with enough exercise. Once we had this realization and made a commitment to getting them sufficient exercise during the week, these behaviors have again subsided.
Owning a dog of any breed requires making changes in your home to accomodate for that dog's personality. As much as you can know about the breed, or think you know because you've owned dogs in the past - each dog is an individual, and like people, you will be required to make adjustments in your own life to make living together a positive situation. A GSP is a more life-altering commitment than most people realize, and GSPs are just not the right breed for a lot of people. I'm honestly not sure GSPs are the right breed for my family. We exercise, but we don't do a good job of dedicating daily time to providing exercise to the pointers, which is really what owning a GSP is about. Each of my non-GSPs required some adjustments - Snoopy eats toilet paper, so you will not find an open bathroom door in my house. Kingsley does need to get exercise, but he's fine if he gets a walk or a jog once a week. None of my other dogs require the same level of mental or physical stimulation that my GSPs require. It is a noticeable and quite a large difference.
I love my GSPs and wouldn't change a thing about them. They are a great breed for a family that is willing to actively dedicate time to exercise and interact with the dog. But thinking that a GSP will just blend into the background of your family is a mistake. GSPs don't blend :) Should you try and make them blend, they will find a way to make you pay attention by being destructive, digging in the yard, and jumping your fence. Unfortunately after 7 years of being involved with GSP Rescue, I've seen a number of homes less qualified than myself, and unwilling to make the necessary accomodations for a GSP, adopt and then return a dog. I certainly don't want to scare anyone away from the breed, but a GSP is unlike many large breeds and are not for every one. If you do not have sufficient time to devote to engaging with your dog in training, exercising or another manner and your motivation is wanting a dog for the kids, or for companionship when you have time for the dog or a dog to throw the ball to only on the weekend--a GSP is not the right choice for you. If you are willing to make those larger accomodations for a GSP and have a trial and error period where you and the GSP adjust to being a family, your GSP will reward you for it.