You might be familiar with the phrase “a tired dog is a happy/good dog”, but what does that really mean? If you have a dog it’s pretty obvious, exercising a dog leads to them sleep which causes bad behaviors to happen less frequently. But if your dog is passed out and too tired to do anything, does that make them a happy dog? Does it make them a good dog? Or does it just make them an exhausted dog?
Physical exercise is very important for dogs, and the activity you choose is equally as important. A dog running on a treadmill is getting plenty of exercise, but a dog who gets to go on a run with his human is getting a little more from the activity. Participating in exercise with your dog presents an opportunity for bonding, and your dog will be much happier working out with you than alone. It’s important to set time aside in your day specifically for your dog.
You can take your dog to the dog park to exercise and socialize, but if you are staring at your cell phone the entire time it effects the outing for the dog and they may not be as happy or well exercised as you’d hoped (they may also get into some trouble without you even knowing). Try bringing a ball or favorite toy to the park, and rather than checking pointless emails, take the time to connect with your pup through a game they love. My dog happens to be weird and not care much for toys, so rather than play fetch, we play hide and seek at the park. I will hide and he will use his nose to seek me out, once he finds me he gets a reward. It’s essentially nose work, but rather than searching for treats he’s searching for me! This gives him both mental and physical exercise!
Mental stimulation is equally as important as physical, and can have better results in less time. Nicole Ellis is a dog trainer who found that her own dog was, “more tired after 15 minutes of scent games than after a 30-minute walk around the neighborhood.” Dogs are smart, and most of them want jobs to do, so giving them some brain activities will help give them peace of mind.
Please keep in mind that all dogs are different and require different amounts of physical exercise. Old dogs require lessexercise than 8 month old puppies. A Newfoundland requires less exercise than an Australian Shepherd. Dogs with injuries require special workouts. Your dog will normally let you know their limits, but don’t always rely on that, and maybe run it by your vet.
This is a great guide on how much exercise your dog may need depending on breed, age, and size. But like I said, every dog is different and no one knows your dog better than you.
Here are some great articles on physical and mental stimulation:
“A Mentally Stimulated Dog is a Happy Dog” by Nicole Ellis
“Is a Tired Dog a Good Dog? (Or a Happy Dog?)” by Dan Estep & Suzanne Hetts of Animal Behavior Associates
And some ideas on how to give your dog mental stimulation: