Most of us think of exercise as physical; staying strong, heart healthy, keeping weight down… What we don’t really think about is how exercise, or the lack of exercise, can affect dog behavior! I love to say ” A tired dog is a good dog!”
Very often I hear people complain that their dog is “spiteful.” There is no such thing as a spiteful dog. If you find your couch chewed up your first reaction should be “What happened to you to create such anxiety?” When your dog has excess energy, which creates stress, it WILL be spent. Whether this energy is spent in destructive behavior (couch, shoe, or wall chewing) or constructively depends entirely on YOU!!
A lack of exercise causes anxiety and stress. Destructive behavior is one consequence of a dog who has not had enough exercise. Anxiety can be expressed by destructive behavior or self-mutilation. Very often people will come home to find that their dog has chewed a big hole in his coat or has licked a paw until it is raw and bleeding.
Hot spots can also be caused by stress. When you see a hot spot, the first questions you should ask yourself are “Could this have been caused by anxiety or stress? Is this stress or anxiety caused by a lack of exercise?”
Every dog, especially young dogs, will be better able to pay attention to you and work with you when they are not suffering from too much pent-up energy. Do you know what it feels like to be restless or feel a little hyper, like you just have to move? Well, when YOU feel that way, you do something. When your dog feels that way, he has to wait and hope that you will notice his NEED for exercise and provide an appropriate outlet.
If you are leaving your dog for any amount of time, it is your responsibility to make sure that she has had enough exercise that she will be content to wait calmly until you return home. Every dog is different, some dogs need a lot more exercise than others.
Some of the things you can do to make sure your dog (and you) get enough exercise are:
- Daily walks
- Training in Obedience, Agility or Rally
- Playing Fetch
- Running (not on concrete)
- Play Sessions With Dog Friends
For those of you thinking of bringing home a puppy or a rescue dog, keep in mind the exercise requirements for the specific breed you are thinking of. If you have an All-American (mixed breed), take a guess at what breeds are there. Think about the characteristics of those breeds and if the exercise requirements of the dog are compatible with your family and lifestyle.
Exercise is important for the emotional and mental health of your dog as well as physical wellness. Appropriate exercise should be part of your daily routine to keep your whole dog healthy and happy. It will also strengthen the bond between you and your dog! Playing with your dog will help reduce YOUR stress too!! Have fun with your dog, you’ll both feel better!