Dog owners are perhaps some of the most enthusiastic of any kind of pet owner, with behaviours ranging from dressing up their pooches to even having them sit at the dinner table! Even if you aren’t the kind to sit your dog down at the dinner table with you, you will of course want to take care of your pet and provide the things they need to live a healthy, happy life. These things include the typical: food, water, shelter and veterinary care, of course. However, they also include other things that people may not typically consider when thinking of what a dog may need to thrive.
Proper Dog Exercise
As a pet owner you’ll want the best for your animal. Exercise is one of those things that many people often forget is extremely important to a dog’s well-being. Of course, it’s not that people ever forget to include exercise in a dog’s daily routine – it’s that they forget to include it correctly.
But what does that even mean? What is “correct” exercise? The answer to these questions may surprise you, but it makes total sense once you think about it. Dog exercise is often considered to be a simple walk outside for many pet owners. But what if I told you that wasn’t actually exercising your dog well enough?
Think of it this way. As a person, if you have a long, physically exhaustive day, you’ll be pretty tired, right? Maybe you’ll even need a nap once you get home. But that tiredness does not even remotely compare to the feeling you experience after a long day of mental exhaustion. The same goes for your dog!
Using Both Mental and Physical Dog Exercise
So the surprising part many pet owners don’t consider when exercising their dogs is that they need to exercise their brains too! There are many ways you can do this for your pup. In fact, you may even already be doing some of these things without realizing it. By doing them with purpose, you’ll be able to recognize when your dog has received proper exercise for the day.
Your dog can benefit from mental exertion, but more importantly – you can, too! Dogs that are involved in mental stimulation more throughout the day are often more well-behaved than those who are only partaking in physical exercise. The commonly used phrase “a tired dog is a good dog” leaves out a lot!
In fact, a dog might even feel more energized after simply engaging in physical activity. I know there are plenty of times when I take my dog out for a walk after she was looking kind of sleepy and then, when we came back in, she was hyper as ever! Even worse are the times when she’s hyper to begin with and it only gets worse!
A better way to handle those situations is to have your dog engage in mental activity as well as physical activity. When they experience that mental exertion on top of the physical activity, that’s what really tires them out afterward. It’s important to include both mental and physical dog exercise because neither one will properly use up all their energy on its own without the other.
Examples of Mental Exercise
It might seem difficult getting into mental exercise with your dog at first. This fact may surprise you, but it’s actually incredibly easy! Just adding simple tasks to your walk or every day routines will do the trick.
One great way to exercise your dog’s brain is with obedience training. Making them think about their actions will stimulate their brain and help use up that mental energy. They’ll be focused on doing the right thing so they can be rewarded, which will give their brain muscles a great workout!
A simple way to give your dog some mental exercise is one that many people might already do – slow walking. Walking your dog slowly will force them to think about their movements more carefully. Walking fast may exert physical energy and tire them out, but that feeling will only be momentary compared to the exhaustion following a mental walk as well.
You could also have your dog solve a makeshift puzzle by taking a treat, letting him or her sniff it and hiding it somewhere for them to find. You could also do something like this when feeding. This is called “scatter feeding” and could also help if your dog has a tendency to eat too fast.
Overall, using both mental and physical dog exercise is incredibly important to the happiness and well-being of your fur-baby. It’s easy to overlook, but including mental activity in your dog’s daily routine can result in a much more satisfied pooch.
The simplest way to look at it is that a physical workout might leave your dog feeling tired (for a small amount of time, mind you), but adding a mental workout will make your dog tired and proud of him/herself after he/she succeeds. A tired and proud dog is a happy and calm dog. And a happy and calm dog makes for a happy human, too!