Exercise the Crucial Element
Probably the second most important facet in dog training is exercise. Those of you who are getting use to my writing know that I think the number one most important point of good dog training is mental stimulation, but the next most important is exercise! When I trained police dogs, I often had them run next to my bicycle or scooter until they were exhausted. They needed the physical exercise to calm their minds and spirits.
Most all dogs and people can benefit to adding to their exercise regimen, unless of course they have a heart condition. Exercise lowers our blood pressure, can uplift our moods, and can even decrease our chances for developing certain diseases. These benefits are also obtainable to your dog.
A tired dog is a good dog!! This is probably my favorite quote, and the truest statement in dealing with your dog. There are many ways to attain a tired dog, but exercise is a fairly easy way to get what you want.
Almost 100% without a doubt when I do a behavior consult with someone having difficulty with their dog, I recommend increasing the amount of exercise their dog is getting. Dogs without exercise and mental stimulation begin to rot mentally and that leads to a lot of naughtiness and problem behaviors. Dogs that have jobs and work all day for their people or those that get a lot of exercise are much less likely to suffer from behavior problems. Exercise is also helpful for almost all behavior problems, it very rarely increases problems.
Imagine taking a room full of small children locking them up and not giving them any exercise or allowing them to play or to mentally stimulate themselves; they would go insane and they would drive YOU insane. The more exercise, learning and structure our children get the happier they are and less they likely they are to get into trouble. Your dog has the same requirements, but most people buy a dog and expect it to take care of its own needs. Dogs require stimulation and exercise to be happy.
Almost all dogs can benefit from exercise; fat dogs, old dogs, young dogs, skinny dogs, puppies can all benefit from an exercise program. You may have to cater an exercise program to fit your dog’s needs but in any case most dogs need some way to rid themselves of excess steam.
The joy of exercise is that it comes in all forms; hiking, biking, swimming, walking, running, skijoring, retrieving, games, weight pulling, drafting and numerous others all qualify as good forms of exercise. If you do it right, you and your dog will never tire of a boring routine.
- Just take caution with puppies and geriatric dogs. Puppies of medium to large breeds should not exercise on hard ground or pull weights until they are at least 2 years old, extra large breeds like Rottweilers and Great Danes should wait until they are 3 or until their vet says it is safe. Excessive exercise on growing dogs can cause the breakdown of cartilage and bones and can cause dysplasia and arthritis. Young dogs and puppies must be exercised on soft ground. Geriatric dogs should be allowed to lightly exercise to build muscles and flexibility which can also help with arthritis.
The majority of people who have dogs that are suffering from behavior problems have adult dogs between the ages of 1-5 and this is the time when exercise is at its most important! Adult dogs should be exercised at a minimum of 3 times a day, morning, afternoon and evening. Adding exercise will help to decrease your dog’s boredom and increase his success of becoming a good pet.
“I don’t have time to exercise my dog!”
“My dog has a big back yard to run in he doesn’t need exercise”
I have heard all of the excuses! Your dog is an investment not only in money but also in time and companionship. Your dog has needs and sometimes you have to inconvenience yourself in order to ensure success and happiness for your dog. Get up early if you have to, or go to bed later but make sure you are devoting the time he needs to his success as a good companion and friend.
Dog’s don’t “run laps” on their own, very rarely do dogs utilize a big back yard as a means to exercise and run out their energy. Even with the biggest back yard or acres to run he needs someone else to help him and encourage him to exercise. He is not going to set his own exercise goals, you have to do that for him.
If you sincerely want to give your dog a shot at being a good pet and pleasing you, you need to give him sufficient exercise. Not only will his body benefit from the payback of exercise, but he will be spending time with you listening to your voice and hopefully working on obedience and your bond as he exercises and becomes weary.
Let him run next to a bike, take him swimming, have him pull a tire; whatever you decide that is appropriate for his breed, age, size and his abilities allow him to blow off steam in a constructive manner and you will see the benefits through his behavior in a few short days!
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.