Once, a retired couple hired me to help them with their 1 year old German Shepherd. Here was the list of behavioral problems they wanted to address: digging, jumping on people, nipping, chewing on furniture, barking and lunging at other people and dogs, as well as barking at the owners, and pulling on leash. First question I asked, “how much exercise does your dog get daily.” Answer: “he’s allowed to run in the backyard as much as he wants in the morning and then again in the evening”. While I searched for the words to explain to them that wasn’t enough, my mind flashed back to my dog Ike and I coming home from a 5 mile cross-country ski and playing Frisbee in the park. He ran through the house and stood at the backdoor as soon as we came in. I robotically opened the backdoor to let him into the fenced yard. He bolted out, spun around and looked at me. As the door closed in his face we looked at each other in amazement, him wondering why I wasn’t coming out to play some more and me wondering what I could do to tire this dog. After explaining to the couple the high energy requirements of a GSD, I took their dog on a skateboard ride. 30 minutes later we were back and I began to provide more detail about the GSD breed, why exercise was so important and how that related to the behavioral issues they brought up. While I was talking to them, instead of trying to invoke attention from the owners as he was doing before our skateboard ride, the dog took a long drink of water, laid down in the grass and panted to cool down for about 5 minutes. Then he moved to the brick pavers, sprawled out and crashed while we talked. This is the power of exercise. PP Dog breeds that are members of the working, sporting or herding groups will often have amazing energy capacity. It just so happens that dogs are also highly social, so most won’t run around in the backyard unless there is another dog or human out there with them, squirrels to chase, or the exercise is a result of a game you’ve taught them, like fetch, which, unless you purchase a ball throwing machine, still requires your presence. Selecting the right breed is the best thing you can do to ensure you can meet your dog’s exercise requirements! Once you’ve done this you have a great starting point in determining your dog’s exercise requirements. Now take these additional factors into consideration. 1Reduce exercise intensity and duration in extreme heat or cold. 2 Consider your dog’s age and physical capability, including its current state of health.3. Keep in mind that as dogs age they may take more pleasure in brain activity over physical activity.4. How rowdy is your dog at the end of the day? If you’ve exercised him properly, he should be content to lay next to you.
Yes, just like humans, dogs benefit from mental stimulation. As the AKC says a mentally stimulated dog is a happy dog. Here are the three best ways I’ve found to keep dogs mentally stimulated. Training without a doubt is one of the best ways to keep your dog mentally stimulated. A dog that gets regular training looks forward to training sessions as if they were a fun game. If you’re training your dog correctly that is exactly what your dog should think. Meeting new people and experiencing novel sights and sounds is what puppy socialization is all about. It sounds simple, but the list is endless. If you introduce your dog to the big scary world a little bit at a time when they are young, they are less likely to develop behavioral problems in adolescence and you’ll wear them out doing it. Sniffing and exploring every 2 inches of grass may seem extremely boring to you, but your dog loves it and catalogs all those smells. There are so many more possibilities so I will have to dedicate a blog post on the subject, but these three suggestions will get you started.