"A good dog is a tired dog." Whoever first spoke those words hit the nail on the head. When it comes to having a well-behaved dog, exercise is crucial.
The more exercise a dog gets, the better he tends to behave for a number of reasons. First and foremost, dogs with a lot of energy and no way to expend it will make up their own ways to get it out. This can include constant barking, digging up the yard, and chewing whatever they can get their mouths on. They will also be more inclined to jump up on people, run wild through the house, and harass the cat.
Because of their nature, some dogs live with nervous energy or tend to be anxious about life in general. These dogs are more likely to suffer from these issues if they don't get enough exercise.
Exercise is also crucial if you want your dog to listen to you. Exercise that involves interacting with humans, such as playing with a toy or going on walks, helps foster the bond between dog and owner. Dogs who are strongly bonded with their people are easier to obedience train and are more likely to respond to training commands, which can help with mental stimulation.
Because exercise is so important to a dog's physical and emotional wellbeing, it's important to provide as much as possible, as often as you can. Here are some suggestions on how to give your dog more exercise.
- Walks. Probably the most important exercise you can give your dog is a walk. Walks not only help dogs burn energy, they also provide mental stimulation. It's important for dogs to get out of the house and the backyard. Imagine being stuck inside all the time! Long walks are best, but if time is a problem, even a short 15-minute walk around the block is good.
- Jogging. If you have a dog that who is at least 1 year old, jogging can be a good way to expend energy. Just be sure both you and your dog are in good shape, and work your way up to longer runs. Remember too that certain breeds or types of dogs are not meant for jogging, like Bulldogs, Pugs, and other brachycephalic breeds with short muzzles. Neither are puppies or older dogs with arthritis.
- Fetch. Nothing wears out a dog faster than a good game of fetch. Tossing a ball, flying disc, or your dog's favorite toy over and over will get his blood pumping and his energy spent. For your own convenience, teach your dog to bring the toy back to you after each toss, unless you need the exercise too.
- Playtime. One of the best ways to provide energy to your dog is to set up play sessions with other pooches. If your dog gets along with others of his kind, arrange a play date with friends' dogs, or take him to a dog park.
- Hiking. Dogs love to go hiking. If you and your dog are in good shape, look for a dog-friendly place to go for a half-day or all-day hike. If you are just starting out hiking with your dog, visit a park or preserve where the terrain is flat and easy. Keep your dog on leash for his own safety and the safety of other dogs and wildlife. Bring plenty of water and a travel bowl along, since all of this exercise will make your dog thirsty. You can even teach your dog to wear a canine backpack so he can carry his own water.
Try to make time each day to give your dog some exercise, even if it's only a 10-minute game of fetch or a short walk around the neighborhood. This will not only help your dog burn off excess energy, it will also help relieve boredom and strengthen his bond with you.
How do you tire out your dog? Does your pup prefer a long walk or a game of tug-of-war? Post your favorite idea in the comments!