Do you have a dog that has tons of energy? A dog that, even after a long walk, wants to play and jump and romp around the house? Do you hear people say “a tired dog is good dog” and wonder how to achieve that with your dog? One of the misconceptions about dogs is that physical exercise is the way to tire them out; that long walks or playing fetch in the yard is the “thing” to do with their dog to tire the dog out. Physical exercise is very important for dogs but for many dogs, vigorous exercise achieves one thing: it makes the dog more fit, and therefore the dog needs more and more daily vigorous exercise to actually be tired. So what is a dog owner with a young, healthy dog to do?
A great way to tire out a dog is to make them use their brains, not just their bodies, to exercise. Unlike with physical exercise, dogs don’t develop a tolerance to mental exercise. When you are teaching your dog a new behavior or command or even a trick, his mind is working and that can be exhausting to a dog. If you can combine physical exercise with mental exercise, even better!
Here are some ways to tire out your dog – and your dog will love you for it!
- Take your dog to daycare – Daycare is great for building social skills, and also because when dogs play they are thinking the entire time. The dialog in your dog’s mind goes something like this “Who is that? Does she want to play? Let me do a play bow to see? OK cool she wants to play – now I need to jump to show her I’m ready – oh wow she moved the other way, I need to chase her – uh oh now she’s chasing me – up and over the ramp I go….” And all the while the dog is running, jumping, wresting and thinking, and at the end of the day the dog is spent.
- Train your dog – Impulse control commands like Stay, Leave It, and Go to Your Bed are all great ways to wear your dog out. These commands require your dog to work out what she needs to do to get the reward – and what not to do. In our classes, we have found that these commands are also great for teaching dogs not to nip and jump – because they learn to think before they act.
- When you walk your dog also train your dog – When you head out on a walk, have a plan for what commands you want your dog to do along the way. A great way to build obedience into your walk is to have your dog sit at every corner and mailbox you pass. On a walk, the reward for sitting like this “Let’s go!” and the walk continues – no treats required if you dog already has a solid sit!
- Make meal times learning times – Use your dog’s food as rewards for obedience commands. Put the food bowl out of your dog’s reach and ask for behaviors like Sit, Lay Down, Touch, and Stay and when your dog does them give him some of his food. It will take a few minutes longer to feed him but it is time well spent! Another great idea is to feed your dog using food puzzles like Kongs, Buster Cubes, Wobblers. To get the kibble out, your dog needs to manipulate or chew on the toy to get to the food – both are great mind exercisers!
Need help learning how to train your dog to tire him or her out? Our next round of group classes at Dogtopia starts September 6th – check out our class schedule https://pepperspaws.com/group-dog-training-class-schedule/ – we’d love to have you join us in class!