I often have people reach out to me because they don’t know what to do with their dogs. Following ‘a tired dog is a good dog’ adage, they rely on physical activity to end up with that ‘good dog.’ They are already walking or running with them for hours a day, going to the dog park, and their dogs are still unable to settle.
Like us, our dogs benefit from an appropriate level and type of activity to keep their bodies and minds healthy. Unfortunately, things have gone to an extreme, with many people exercising their dogs beyond just being tired.
Trying to tire our dogs by providing more and more activity usually backfires. If we think about it, it’s not hard to see why it doesn’t work. Many people are inadvertently training their dogs into a fitter and fitter state, requiring more intense activity levels to tire them out. It is also physically dangerous for some dogs. Unfortunately, this approach of relying on physical exercise alone is not the solution.
Why Relying on Physical Exercise Alone Doesn’t Work
It Can Be Dangerous For Some Dogs
Puppies and young dogs can sustain short-term and long-term damage from inappropriate exercise. For example, repetitive-type of activity, such as running too long, walking or playing without chances to rest; too intense activities, such as jumping off of high things, can cause damage to their immature bodies.
Puppy Culture has great guidelines for young dogs.
A Constant State of Motion
Dogs in a continual state of activity become used to being in that state. As a result, they constantly look for more action and can become incapable of functioning without this type of stimulation. Their bodies and brains don’t know how to relax. The sensation can actually feel abnormal to them.
Adrenalin and cortisol take more than a day to settle back to normal levels. Therefore, if a dog continually participates in arousing activity without an appropriate amount of calming activity, these hormones will be chronically elevated. This is not a healthy state to remain in for extended periods. It affects the ability to focus, respond to situations appropriately and overall health and well-being.
Finding a Better Balance
Although each dog’s needs are unique, nearly every dog I meet could use more quiet time and mental exercise. A proper balance of rest and calm activity helps every dog feel better and have a healthier life. Shifting an adrenalin junky may seem a daunting task. Fortunately, there are many simple ways to begin finding a better balance in their daily lives. So whether you have just brought home a new pup or dog or have a routine that you think works, adding some mental stimulation is a great idea.
Want some ideas? Check out Positive Dog Life for our new Mental Mondays, where you can find fun options to try with your dog.
You can check out my blog page with helpful info for you and your dog at A Day With Dogs