THIS is What I Mean by Exercise
Watch the video! It is only a few seconds long!
I realize that sometimes I make statements and things are lost in translation.
I often say, “Your dog needs more exercise” when I am faced with a question about a dog with a behavior problem.
You can see it in most of my responses to people.
My puppy nips and bites: He needs more exercise.
My dog digs: He needs more exercise.
My dog jumps on guests: He needs more exercise.
My dog is dog aggressive on walks: He needs more exercise.
Get the idea?
It seems like an easy resolution or a cop out on my end. How can something that is so easy be the answer to almost anything?
Because it’s true.
Dogs get into trouble when we aren’t meeting their needs; physically (exercise), emotionally (spending time with them), and mentally (challenging them with obedience).
They can’t raise themselves; well at least most of them don’t do a good job!
Imagine keeping your 4 year old child still and expecting him to nap all day?? If you want a tired kid, head to the park.
And, dogs are athletes. Most of them are bred to sustain some sort of job. Not to mention most problems arise with puppies and young dogs; because they have too much energy for lackadasical their environments.
I very rarely hear a working dog owners come to me with these problems… why? It is because the dog is out working in the field all day! When he comes home he is too exhausted to bite, jump, and dig!
I am not going to tackle emotional needs or mental needs in this article, although all dogs have these needs as well, and they need to be met.
For this article I want to focus on just EXERCISE needs.
Most people don’t understand; I am not talking about a one mile stroll to the end of the road.
I am talking about an all-out 8, 10, or 15 mile RUN.
I am sure some people are gasping in horror, but dogs are athletes. If people can run half marathons and marathons, this kind of exercise is nothing for a dog that is built and bred for it!
AND, dogs LOVE IT!
I hooked my dogs up to my trusty pedal cart on Sunday and we headed out for an 8 mile run. They loved every ounce and footstep of it. They were outside, their minds were engaged, they had to listen to me as to which direction we were turning and how fast they needed to go, and the only reason we headed back at 4 miles (to make a round trip of 8) was because we need to start conditioning again because it’s been too hot to do this during most of the summer! They also need tougher feet!
If it had been up to them, they would have kept going for twice as long!
And, that is what I do; I gauge how long our trips are, by how well they are doing and how long their tongues are, how tough their feet are, and how hot it is outside.
Safety first! I would never risk heat exhaustion or do this while it is hot (for more one when it is too hot click here); and we run down by the river and take many breaks so that they can dip their hot bodies. And, I always make sure I have water for them.
I also don’t allow them to RUN the whole way. They must listen to me and we must be at a safe pace, sometimes the walk, sometimes they gallop and sometimes they RUN.
A Good Dog is a Tired Dog
After watching the video can you imagine how quiet my house was that night?
Could you imagine that if I had a dog that was biting, digging, eating and chewing things he shouldn’t, showing aggression or jumping on guests that this would help them not to do those behaviors.
I could have had a knock down drag out wild party at my house (if I liked parties) and my dogs would have barely noticed. They were too tired to care. This means it makes the odds better that they wouldn’t jump on people (although if they had a tendency to jump I would still keep them on a leash).
So if you are worried about your dogs jumping on your Thanksgiving guests or family members when they come over; give your dogs this kind of exercise just prior to your guest’s arrival!
A 1, 2, or even 5 mile stroll or even a power walk for you, does nothing to really make an athlete tired!
Your dog needs true exercise that stimulates his body.
I am not as much of an athlete as my dogs, and even when I was running 13 miles a day it wasn’t nearly as fast as my dogs like to run!
In order to conquer behavior problems, you often have to EXERCISE first! Then take your dog out for more training 😉
I bet even a dog aggressive dog would be less likely to be as reactive or aggressive after an 8 mile run! This can make your training program more successful!
Set your alarm for earlier in the morning, or go for a run when you get home, get a scooter or a bike, either way make time to give your dog what he needs!
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.