During our time together we will discuss many different ways to have a calmer dog. To help in your journey you will want to look at the possible root cause of your dog’s overactivity.
Causes of your dog’s overactivity may include:
- Lack of training
- Lack of boundaries set in the home
- Your dog’s environment
- You are overenthusiastic or anxious yourself
There are several steps we can take to help calm our dog down. This first week I will speak in detail about what I have found to be the most effective way to calm dogs down — exercise outside of your property. I have found with the 1,000+ dogs I’ve trained in our boarding school program, the winning combination is playing with other dogs, outings, and their training! This is a great equation for success! Give your dog freedom and opportunities to just be a dog. Let them run and smell and play. If you do not trust your dog off leash, utilize a long leash to give your dog the freedom they deserve while you still feel safe being able to redirect them if need be. I feel many of the problem behaviors we see today is due to us needing to control our dogs more, not giving them the opportunity to be free to do normal dog things! Exercise can be looked at as both physical and mental exercise. In today’s session we focused on physical exercise.
How much exercise should my dog receive? At a minimum if you can give your dog 20 minutes in the morning and afternoon that is great. Some dogs will need more, some dogs will need less.
Types of physical exercise I recommend include, but are not limited to:
I break my walks down into 3 different types of walks:
- A “walk walk”. I do not allow the dogs to stop and smell; we walk with a purpose and GO.
- A “smell walk”. During this walk I allow the dogs to stop and smell while we walk.
- A “training” walk. During this walk, I have a plan to train the dogs during the walk. I’ll think of a behavior to work on at every fire hydrant or stop sign. Thinking of objects to prompt you to train is a great motivator and reminder.
DOG PARKS (off hours): I am not a fan of dog parks during the busy morning or after work hours. I feel that owners do not pay enough attention to their dogs during this time. During off hours, the dog park can be wonderful if you have a select few dogs in the park.
FLIRT POLE (great to work on impulse control with your dogs)
HIKING: I’d have to say this is one of my favorite exercises with the dogs, as it allows the dogs freedom and to smell many new and different smells. Plus, hiking on an uneven terrain helps with problem solving and mental stimulation.
Special note on exercise and safety for your dog – – Keep in mind that your dog’s growth plates are not fully developed until after 1 year of age. I’d wait to start agility training or a running program until after your dog is 1 or older. Keep in mind with running, your dog will need to work up to distance running just like you had to train yourself to.
In the following weeks, we will review management tools, mental exercises to tire your dog, and ways we can calm our reactive dog towards other dogs, along with fireworks.