Isn’t a physically exhausted dog…. a chilled out dog……..?
So, picture the scene, you have taken your dog for a lovely long run around the park, you have thrown balls, he has met his favourite mates and a few new pals. YOU have come home completely exhausted...... but ...... FIDO is still running about asking for more more more more more. In fact... he possibly has more energy than he did BEFORE the walk. What's a dog owner to do?
Of course there are many many benefits to your best friend of a lovely long run. It keeps them aerobically fit and healthy. Dogs need a good run. The more good runs a dog has... the fitter they get. The fitter they get... the more of a good run they like to have and the more they need to wear them out.
A good run increases adrenalin and cortisol levels in a dog. Cortisol levels take an hour and a half to come down which is why when you bring the dog home from a walk your dog may still be very excited. Think about how you feel after exercise, a good work out at the gym. Energised.
It isn't until a dog walks slowly with each leg moving independently that a dog starts to use the core muscles and build their core strength. Slowly walking and sniffing benefits the dog from both a muscular point of view but also enables the dog to use their brain.
We have 6 million sensory receptors in our nose... dogs have 200-300 million. Sniffing for a dog is the equivalent of us catching up on the evening news or watching our favourite soap. A dog that has plenty of opportunities to use their brain is a more contented, calm and chilled out dog.
So, what can you do?
Spend some time everyday teaching your dog new tricks. Teaching your dog to sit, then stand then sit then go down and repeating this over and over is the equivalent to your dog doing squats. Great for their rear end which is their power house. Teach your dog to beg. This is great for their core muscles. Really good for them. Too many dogs have flabby tummies. Teach your dog to bow. This is a great stretch. Get your dog to weave between your legs. This is great for building confidence and for keeping them supple. Twist and spins are good fun having them turning one way then the other. Again good for keeping them supple. None of these tricks need much space and are great bonding exercises.
Think about feeding your dog from your hand as a reward rather than from their bowl. This will help to build a bond as well as giving you an opportunity to ask for behaviours so the dog is earning its food. Play searching games. Hide the food and ask the dog to find it. This gives the dog the opportunity of using its fabulous nose to find its food. Again using his brain and having fun.
There are many interactive feeding toys on the market as well as kongs which are great. In the summer we can stuff our dog's food in to these and freeze them. It's a game and a way of cooling them down.
When you walk your dog take his or her meal out with you and practice loose lead walking. Hand feeding your dog on a walk is a lovely way to reinforce your relationship and their recall.
There are many games and sports we can enjoy with our dogs allowing them and rewarding them for using their natural instincts and the talents they have been bred for. It's a double win for the dog. Agility is fantastic fun. Trieball is a great way of allowing the dog to use its herding instincts in a fun competitive sport. Scentwork allows them to use their amazing noses. Flyball is fast and furious ball work.
Clare Grierson, Dog Trainer & Behaviour Specialist explains why you should be teaching your dog new tricks