How much exercise does my dog really need?
The amount of physical exercise a dog needs varies by breed and age. A young retriever for example, would be difficult to tire no matter how many walks you took in a day! The bigger problem is that while we usually pay attention to physical exercise, we usually completely ignore mental stimulation for our pets
a critical component of exercise! This leads to boredom, and boredom leads to destructiveness.
Provided your dog is getting two or three good walks a day (or a trip to the dog park and play in a safe fenced-in yard), I would focus more on adding mental stimulation to your dogs daily routine.
Imagine if you had to sit in an empty room, alone, all day long
nothing to read, no clock, no television and no games. Youd probably go a little stir-crazy yourself, so its not surprising that your dog may get bored and resort to games like chew up the couch!
Mental stimulation of dogs is easy and fun! Here are a few helpful hints to help get you started:
- Provide your dog with toys that make them think, like a Kong toy stuffed with food and peanut butter, or one of the many varieties of treat puzzle balls or Intellitoys available at your local pet supply store or from catalogs or the internet (look for the Intellicube, the Intellibone, Hide-A-Squirrel, Hide-A-Bird and Hide-A-Bee!)
- Rotate your dogs toys. Constant access to the same items makes them lose their value (just think about kids with new Christmas toys and how they sit unused a mere two weeks later)!
- Play stimulating games like Hide the Cookie. Confine your dog to another part of the house while setting up this game. Take tiny bits of treats and hide them everywhere it is OK for him put his nose - under the coffee table, on a lower shelf of the bookcase, etc. (I prefer Solid Gold Tiny Tots or Jerky treats for this game since they are not greasy and are easy to break up.) Now release your dog from his temporary confinement and say, Find the Cookie! At first, stand near the places you have hidden the tidbits. Soon your dog will catch on to the game and you and your family can sit back and watch the fun! Your dog wont know when hes found all the hidden treats so you can keep this game going for a while! Voila, doggy calculus!
- Try some of the great dog sports such as agility, freestyle, tracking, flyball and Rally-O!
- Theres an old saying, A tired dog is a happy dog. Just remember to keep a balance. Physical exercise and mental stimulation are both necessary to keep your dog happy and non-destructive!