How to Tire out a Puppy: 4 Exercises That’ll Have Him Behaving in No Time
In this article we are going to learn how to tire out a puppy. I have noticed lately, a gamut of people having trouble meeting the exercise needs of their dogs. This is pretty darn normal! We, as humans, are just too busy!
We are pulled in by work (often taking several jobs just to make ends meet), family, social media, hobbies and many times we just don’t make time for our dogs. Even I work full time with a few jobs lately! And, I have high drive dogs that need a lot of exercise.
What are my favorite tricks?
In no particular order, except the last!
#4 Mental Stimulation
Solving puzzles and using your mind is exhausting. Don’t believe me? Take a college class or go to a continuing education class for a day or two.
Learn some new information. And, try and tell me you are not tired when you are done! Unless of course you are used to constant learning every day.
The thing is that learning is exhausting.
If you want a tired dog, teach him something new, or at least put a spin on the things that he knows by engaging his mind.
Don’t stick to the same exact training regimen with your pup each day, in the same boring order.
Mix things up, make him perform faster and make it a game. Mental stimulation is also crucial to his happiness. Dr. Ian Dunbar (one of my favorite behaviorists) says that mental exercise tires a dog physically more than physical exercise does!
Remember in past articles, me alluding not allowing your toddler to exercise? Now imagine not allowing your toddler to play or learn or stimulate his mind. Can you imagine? No books, no toys, very little verbal interaction or teaching.
That would be cruel. Dogs, too, need to be stimulated mentally.
If we don’t provide it for them through physical and verbal interaction and learning and rewarding good behavior, our dog will provide it to themselves through chewing and shredding and barking and digging and jumping and acting a fool. Hyper dog or high energy dogs are often mentally more intelligent than their counterparts. They are not fulfilled sitting and playing fetch with a few toys or chewies.
They should be taught mental exercises and games! The truth is it doesn’t matter what you teach them:
Impulse Control Games
Or even a hand stand up the wall…
The important thing is that you are teaching and providing that mental stimulation that will make them happy!
#3 HIIT Exercise
Have you ever done H.I.I.T or High Intensity Interval Training? Those are four of my worst dreaded words when they are strung together in a sentence. I am currently getting back into shape and learning to deadlift, squat, and bench press safely.
My personal trainer believes in HIIT training and engages me both with weight training and cardio several times a month. I HATE it! But I also love it, because as difficult as it is at the time, it is worth it throughout the rest of the day.
- I sleep better.
- I think better.
- And, I feel better about myself!
Your dog can benefit too! I like to take my dogs for high intensity runs. I sit in a lateral recumbent trike and let them pull for several miles.
Most of the time, as long as it is safe, I also allow them to set the pace. Your dog is an athlete and he needs the ability to enjoy exercise, REAL exercise! Exercise is also good for his heart and body condition and joints.
Please do your dog a favor and provide him with some real exercise each day! His body, his waistline, his blood pressure and his mind needs it! The following tips for starting HIIT with your dog are courtesy of SnootyPests.Com
If you would like to start HIIT with your dog then it is important to begin with gentle sessions, particularly if your dog isn’t used to getting a lot of exercise. The best way to do this is to make the bursts of intensity shorter, say 10 seconds, and the rest periods longer, for example 40 seconds. As you complete more HIIT sessions you will be able to alter the ratios so that eventually the intense periods are longer and the rests are shorter.
Don’t Overdo It
Just like someone who works out at a gym, it is important to let your dog have rest days to recover from the intense exercise. Rest days are just as important as workout days as they let the muscles build and recover.
Start with one HIIT session a week and build up to two or three per week.
Keep it Short
The great thing about HIIT is that it doesn’t take much time to complete a workout.
Keep the sessions short, around 10 minutes is enough, and remember to warm up and cool down with some walking or tug games first.
Make it Fun
You don’t have to stick to running and walking for your HIIT session. Choose activities your dog will love.
If they love chasing balls then throw a ball up a steep incline for them for a minute, then walk them for 30 seconds and repeat.
If you would like to improve your own and your dog’s fitness levels then high intensity interval training is a must.
#2 Regular Physical Exercise
I can’t say it enough, your dog is not outside plotting his exercise regimen and planning to get fit. A stroll around the block or a stroll for a few miles is not enough to tire your dog. Occasionally I like to enjoy a several mile hike.
I also like encouraging my dogs to swim.
I find that swimming will exhaust my dogs fairly quickly, whereas walking and hiking takes many hours of consistently rigorous exercise; swimming is fairly physically exhausting.
My dogs absolutely LOVE dock diving.
You can also teach your dog to pull weights, pull a cart, and pull a scooter or yourself in inline skates (as well as skijoring in the snow).
Lure coursing is also another fun physical sport.
But if walking is all you’re able to do, don’t be discouraged.
The good news is that adequate mental stimulation is all you need in order to keep your dog’s attention on you!
You can make things exciting for him with these mentally stimulating games to play while walking him.
The Recall Game
Coming when called is probably THE MOST important skill that you will ever teach your dog. But people rarely take the opportunity to work on this while they are on a walk with their dog on leash next to them! Why not condition the dog, often, that coming when called is a wonderful thing?
So while I am walking, with my dog in heel position or even at the end of the leash (I don’t allow any pulling) I begin to run backward while calling my dog to “come”. I make it fun! I prance, I praise and I reward handsomely if he responds quickly and in an animated fashion.
If I want to add more (and I always do!) I get him to sit directly in front of me and then find heel again!
Ahhhhhh push-ups are one of my favorite exercises to entertain my dog’s mind and exhaust his body!
These don’t have to be done just at home in between my four walls! I love adding push-ups to a walk.
First, let me explain: when I say push-ups I am talking about having my dog “sit”, and then “down”, and then “sit” in rapid succession.
And for a great video series on how to teach these basic commands, click here.
To sharpen my dog’s listening skills and obedience while I am walking, I command my dog to “down” (hopefully while we are still in motion) and then I ask for multiple “sits” and “downs” before finally rewarding him with a tasty treat or his favorite toy.
Hide & Seek
Hide and seek is another great game to play on a walk or at the park, but you need two people! One person should dart away and find a good hiding spot, while the other person distracts the dog (or lets him watch in the beginning). Then the hiding person calls the dog to “COME” all while praising him as he tries to find his owner.
“Fury, COME!!!! Good girl, Good girl, Good girl, COME” You can’t call once and then hope that he is motivated to find you. You must praise and motivate him until he finds you!
This is also a fun way to solidify that recall or come command that we talked about earlier!
“COME” should be FUN! If you consistently work both of the recall games you will see your dog’s recall vastly improve! Your dog doesn’t have to be a scholar to play games while walking.
Even the youngest dogs and puppies can benefit from simply changing your pace from moderate to fast or to slow.
Changing pace keeps your dog stimulated and his focus on you! Circles are also fun!
Throw in a circle to the left to keep your dog looking up at you and to teach him to get out of your way. Throw in a circle to the right to motivate him to keep up with a faster pace.
Most people barely work on obedience while they have their dogs out for a walk.
Their intention is only to go from point A to point B and back while they think they are giving their dog exercise. However, walking is not the best way to exercise your dog. And, ironically this is one of the reasons dogs don’t listen to their owners while they are out of the house!
In order for your dog to listen to you while walking, you must work on training him while you are walking. Forget just getting from point A to point B – work on leash training and play games!
The #1 Way to Physically Exhaust Your Dog?
Put all of these things together for fast and complete exhaustion.
My favorite go-to when I want a tired dog is getting them to perform obedience commands in a fast paced manner and then I throw their ball to chase as a reward.
For instance, I grab my chuck-it and ball (I often use these because I can throw farther) and my dog and ask for numerous commands; watch me, heel, sit, down, return to heel, down in motion and then I mark the completed series of commands with a click or a word and throw the ball as far as I can for them to retrieve.
As they rapidly return with the ball (or tug or whatever toy I am using), I decide whether I am going to ask for them to drop the toy and then throw it again, or if I am going to ask for more obedience before I throw.
I mix it up!
I don’t always ask for the same behaviors in a row.
And, sometimes I will throw the ball or toy multiple times before returning to obedience. The running after the toy and retrieving is great exercise for my dogs, physically. They are chasing and fast and returning as fast as they can.
I also sometimes bounce the ball hard, or toss it so they can catch it to give them variety with their play. If I take them out for HIIT I throw in some changes of direction, some downs in motion or sits in motion and some heel. And, when my dogs are hiking or come back from swimming I also ask for downs from a distance, or some quick eye contact and focus and heeling so that I engage their mind.
The best stimulation comes when you engage all parts of your dog!
How Much Exercise is Too Much for Your Puppy?
Can you exercise your puppy too much? According to this article from the AKC, the answer is more than a simple yes. “We may not have exact measurements, but there are a few common sense considerations that can help you come up with a plan to keep your puppy active and healthy.
For starters, consider your dog’s breed. A Bulldog puppy and a Border Collie puppy will both love playtime, but a Border Collie will probably have a higher exercise tolerance than a Bulldog, not to mention a higher heat tolerance for outdoor play.
Breed size matters, too. There have been studies that show potential links between too much exercise and orthopedic disease in large-breed dogs. Forcing your 8-week-old Great Dane for a two-mile walk every day, for instance, is probably not a great idea, even if he could keep up. Most people would not consider taking a smaller-breed puppy for a hike that long, but with higher energy levels, larger breeds can fool us into thinking they need longer walks than is good for them.
Learning as much as you can about your breed is a good place to start.
Toy breeds, on the other hand, mature more quickly but require small, frequent feedings throughout the day as puppies, which can mean you may need to adjust their exercise accordingly.
Working training sessions into their exercise routine is just as important as exercise itself.
Your puppy’s exercise needs will change as she grows.
When your puppy is very young, veterinarians recommend keeping exercise limited to short walks and multiple play sessions throughout the day, with plenty of time for naps.
Older puppies will require more exercise. A six-month-old dog might be capable of taking longer walks or even short jogs (if your vet helps you determine he’s in good overall health and up for it), for example, but long walks over rough terrain or strenuous agility classes are still potentially dangerous.
You can slowly build your puppy up to longer walks with time, taking plenty of breaks to keep him from tiring out or hurting himself, but how long is too long? And what about puppies that never seem to get tired, no matter how much they run around?
Puppy Exercise Safety Tips
Regardless of your dog’s age, there are a few safety tips from the American Veterinary Medical Association that can help keep your puppy safe during exercise.
- Begin with short walks, taking frequent breaks.
- Increase the length of the walk gradually.
- Avoid walks during the hottest and coldest parts of the day.
- Walk on safe footing, avoiding slippery or sharp surfaces.
- Call your veterinarian if your puppy shows any signs of lameness.”
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.