Do you have a young puppy or a dog who seems to have been born without an off switch? If you’re constantly running miles with your dog and can’t seem to tire them out, we’ve got some tips for you.
Ensure your pup is getting the right amount of exercise
If you want to help your pup turn off, you first have to ensure your pup is getting just the right amount of exercise. Not enough and they’ll still be raring to go or too much and you risk having to deal with an overtired overstimulated dog who just can’t seem to settle. Jenny Efimova, a dog trainer in Boston writes “the notion that “a tired dog is a good dog” is a bit misguided. Not all exercise is created equal. Some activities, such as prolonged ball and Frisbee fetching or uninterrupted play in dog parks or doggy daycares, actually increase arousal and stress.”
Chat with your vet about what seems right and adjust from there. In the next few tips, we’ll cover ways to vary the type of exercise you’re doing with your dog. For breeds like Border Collies, Blue Heelers and Belgian Malinois long leash walks or jogs likely won’t cut it in the exercise department, but don’t despair. There are so many ways to help your pup work out - without running till your legs want to fall off.
Consider that your pup might need more mental stimulation
If you have an older dog you might remember that after puppy kindergarten your pup came home exhausted. But why? A couple of sits, downs, and stays aren’t that physically demanding. Your pup was exhausted from learning!
During puppy kindergarten, your dog is actually working very hard. There are new sights, surfaces, and distractions and your dog has to pay attention to you for a whole 45 minutes to an hour -- that’s actually quite difficult for a tiny puppy.
As your pup gets older, the things they find mentally stimulating may change. Consider interactive toys like Nina Ottoson’s line of puzzles for every skill level or Fable Pets “The Game” to turn mealtime into an exercise in skill for your dog.
Another great way to work your dog’s brain and not just their bodies is scentwork. Once your pup gets the hang of it you can actually set up scavenger hunts for your pup to find where you hid a scent.
Try other forms of “exercise” like trick training
For pups who want to work their brains and bodies, trick training can be a great bonding activity for you and your pup. Unlike obedience training, trick training will take a little more creativity from you in how you teach your dog. You’ll want to use some high-value treats like meat or cheese, in the beginning, to get your pup into it. Some fun things to teach your pup include:
- Jumping through a hoop
- Turning on the lights
- Playing the piano
- Drawing or painting a picture
- Play dead
- Pick a pocket
As your pup gets more advanced with the tricks you can do what is called chaining behaviors. This is when your pup learns to almost act out a scene with their tricks. In the example of the pick a pocket trick, you can teach your pup to take something out of someone’s pocket and then go hide!
Enroll in a dog sport
No matter your dog’s interest from Rally (competitive obedience) to agility (doggie obstacle courses) or even something in the water like dock diving there is a sport for every pup.
Even if your dog isn’t going to compete, taking some lessons and learning a sport together can be great fun. As a bonus, you might find yourself getting some extra exercise too. In a sport like agility, you and your dog have to work together. While your dog is running, jumping weaving, and flying through the tunnel you have to direct them. If you have a really fast dog you might find yourself running full speed along with them.
Find another canine playmate
It might benefit your pup to have another high-energy dog to play with. Consider reaching out to friends or neighbors to find a pup who is similar in age and play style. If you are having trouble - ask your trainer or local doggie daycare to put the word out to their clients. Chances are you might find another pup parent in a similar situation.
Remember to introduce the dogs to each other properly, preferably on neutral territory. If your pup or their playmate is food or toy aggressive, avoid letting the pups have toys and treats together as that can lead to fighting.
Learn to watch body language to make sure both pups are playing and having fun. If one of the dogs is showing signs of nervousness, starts getting tired, or simply needs a break, it is up to the humans to make sure both dog’s needs are being met!
Helping a high-energy dog calm down
If your dog has had some strenuous exercise or high-energy playtime, you might need to help them relax after. Let your pup cool down and then maybe spend some time relaxing on a mat or place or even in their crate. You can turn on some soothing music or put the TV on for them to unwind.
Keep in mind the time of day that you are exercising with your pup. If you let them run around too close to bedtime it may have the same impact as you working out too late and might make your pup have trouble falling asleep. This can lead to an overtired and cranky pup. Be sure that in addition to getting enough exercise your pup is getting good quality sleep too!
The Ollie blog is devoted to helping pet parents lead healthier lives with their pups. If you want to learn more about our fresh, human-grade food, check out MyOllie.com.