You got up early, before it became too warm, and took your dog on a 45-minute run through the neighborhood. That should tire your dog out for several hours while you try to get some work done. But 30-minutes later, your dog is ready to go, bringing you his favorite ball, jumping on you, and tugging at your clothes. So, the next morning, you take your dog for an even longer run, but you end up in the same situation with your dog “bouncing off the walls.” What is going on with your dog?
Are you creating an athlete? You go to the gym or go for your run. When you return, you are not exhausted to the point where you need to rest. You are actually energized and ready to take on the day. The same goes for our dogs. The more we exercise them, the more we build up their strength and endurance. We are not advocating for not providing your dog physical exercise. Giving your dog daily physical exercise is important for their health and wellbeing, just like it is for us. But, physical exercise alone will only increase your dog’s stamina and athletic ability, but it may not be enough to tire them out.
But, if you work their brain, you will have a more fulfilled dog. Most people who read at night do so because it helps them fall asleep. While our dogs can’t sit down and read a good book to help them relax, there are other things we can do to work their brain. Here are some ideas to enrich your dog and tire your dog out.
The Find It Game
This is a great game that can be played indoors or outdoors. For indoor play, ask your dog for a sit stay in the room where you will be playing the game. Place a few treats around the room while your dog watches. Then, release your dog and say “Find it”. You may have to help your dog the first few times. After your dog understands the game, you can make it harder by putting your dog in another room while hiding the treats. Change up the locations where you hide the treats, and increase the difficulty by hiding treats under cushions, on chairs, etc.
For playing the Find It Game outside, ask your dog for a it stay, and hide treats in your yard while your dog watches. Release your dog and say “find it”. Initially, you may have to help your dog, but eventually you want your dog to find the treats by themselves. If you don’t want to hide treats in the yard, you can take a handful of treats and throw them into the grass, saying “find it”.
By allowing your dog to use their nose, you are helping them use their brain.
Training and Tricks
Taking 3-5 minutes out of your day to teach your dog something new will enrich your dog and get their brain working. If your dog already has a list of known behaviors, you can work on proofing those instead of teaching something new. Make sure your training sessions are short and fun for both you and your dog.
Satisfy Your Dog’s Genetics
Wait, what? Yes! Your dog’s genetics play a huge role in your dog’s energy level. Your herding breed such may enjoy playing with a flirt pole to satisfy their herding instincts. If you have a dog bred to retrieve, the find it game will be one of their favorites. If your dog was bred to dog for vermin, set up a sand pit and hide a favorite toy in there for them to dig up. By satisfying your dog’s genetic drive, you will have a calmer dog.
Lots of Toys
No, we are not suggesting you litter your floors with dog toys. What we are suggesting is having a lot of toys, so you can rotate your dog’s toys on a daily basis, leaving your dog with four or five “new” toys daily. By rotating your dog’s toys, you lessen the chance your dog will get bored. We suggest you put your dog’s unused toys away, so that your dog cannot get to them. If you have a retriever, you can incorporate the find it game by hiding your dog’s toys instead of, or along with, their treats.
If you want to help your dog relax, check out our blog “Help Your Dog Relax with These 3 Activities”. Do want more information on how to satisfy your dog’s genetic predisposition? Call us at 786-299-1552. Our trainers would be happy to help.