Almost everyone who has owned a young dog understands the seemingly unlimited energy they posses. This energy can be very fun and rewarding when expressed appropriately. However, if it is not expelled it could mean big trouble for both the dog and owner. I always tell people that the energy and drive is going to be used, and if the owner does not direct it the dog will and I promise they won’t like the way Fido exercises by himself. Pent up energy can lead to numerous behavioral problems, and many of them are easily written off as a different issue all together.
These behavior problems include: Jumping, chewing, destroying your belongings, digging, barking, getting into the trash, running away or bolting, playing keep away from you with your stuff, nipping, and biting.
This list is only some of the issues that may arise, and some of them are sure to occur if you do not exercise your dog. There are many ways to exercise your effectively and today I am going to address what I refer to as the three spheres of exercise, their affects on behavior, and how to effectively address each. These three spheres of exercise are:
- Physical exercise: It is no secret that dogs need a lot of physical exercise. This allows them to get their blood flowing, run, play, and drain the pure energy that they have. It is imperative that dogs get to run and play daily! While walks around the neighborhood are very important, they do not do a whole lot to drain all that pent up energy. How many times have you finished a nice long walk just to have your dog be ready to go again ten minutes later? Physical exercise means running and playing, get them breathing hard and wear them out.
- Mental exercise: Many people overlook the fact that dogs need to be challenged mentally as well. Their body may be tired, but if their mind is still fresh they will still get in trouble. Satisfy this by teaching tricks and practicing them daily. Interactive toys that make them think such as dog puzzles and hidden treat toys are a great way to strain their brain without taking all of your time. Remember that mental exercise can make up for physical exercise in times of inclement weather or when you just have too much going on to adequately run them.
- Drive exercise: This is one of the most overlooked aspects of a well rounded exercise routine, but in fairness may be one of the more difficult to accomplish. Most dogs, even mixed breeds, have certain drives characteristics that fuel who they are. Herding breeds like to coral and chase things, terriers like to dig and “kill” things, retrievers like to retrieve, and so on. Allowing your dog to practice these behaviors will satisfy the need to do them randomly. Ease this by providing a sand box for your terrier to dig up hidden toys, this will help with digging in other inappropriate areas. Or make sure you play a nice long, fun game of fetch with you lab or retriever a couple times a week.
The good news is that if done correctly, you can kill at least two, and sometimes three, birds with one stone. Playing games that address all of these three exercise needs will ensure your pet is healthy and happy, and will help alleviate those behavior problems brought about by boredom. Now, this is the real world and many of us have families and busy lives. A great way to ensure your dog gets the exercise they need and deserve is to plan ahead. When you know your not going to have time to wear Fido out try planning a day for him at day camp, and have a tired well behaved dog when you pick him up. An alternative is to take advantage of the numerous dog parks we have aroundKnoxville. Nothing will wear a dog out like letting them run and play with friends that can really keep up.