“A tired dog is a good dog.”
All dogs need and deserve adequate mental and physical exercise. If their exercise requirements are met, they will be more likely to be happy, healthy and well-behaved. Dogs with an excess of energy can become stressed and/or develop behavioral problems such as destructive chewing or excessive barking. Create both mental and physical workout programs for your dog so he doesn’t invent his own!
A 15-minute walk once or even twice a day is not enough for most adolescent/adult dogs. Try to schedule two physical exercise sessions for your dog daily. One session should occur in the morning and the other in the late afternoon or evening. Each session should generally last around 30 minutes (or longer for some dogs). Playing fetch uphill, running around in a fenced tennis court, calling your dog back-and-forth while increasing distance, or playing with other dog pals are all heart-pumping activities that can wear out your dog. You can even make a toy — like a ball hanging from a rafter or tree, or a fluffy toy on the end of a horse whip — to give your dog something to chase. Any way you do it, that tongue should be hanging out at the end of a session!
Important note for puppies: Puppy joints have not fully developed, so do not allow a lot of high impact activity (ie: jumping/running, especially on concrete) or long bouts of physical exercise. If your dog is out of shape, make sure that you condition him slowly (just as you would if training to run a marathon). Elderly dogs need exercise to stay healthy too, but they generally won’t need as much as younger dogs. Ask your vet if you have questions or concerns.
Mental exercise for your dog helps to keep his mind busy with appropriate activities. Instead of feeding your dog solely out of a bowl, fill interactive toys like Kongs or Buster Cubes with his meal. Hide dry food in the yard or house, put food in a pop bottle (as long as he won’t eat the plastic!), or use his food to practice his obedience training. Be creative! Playing games with your dog like “find it” or “hide and seek” can also be a good mental workout. (For more games and descriptions, see Appropriate Play) Remember, a dog that receives enough physical and mental exercise is much more likely to be well-behaved. So get out there and have some fun with your dog!