What I’ve observed over the years, even in my own life, is that when people are faced with their dog’s behavior problems, they often turn toward training as the solution.
But what I’ve learned undoubtedly from our current dog is that a tired dog is a good dog. If you keep coming home to one less intact shoe in the closet or another chair leg gnawed practically in half, my best advice to you is to wear that dog out! Here’s how…
Go on a Walk
This is obviously the easiest place to start. A 20 minute walk in the morning and the evening not only gets your pup’s legs moving, it also offers mental stimulation as they get to sniff around and smell what’s been happening in the neighborhood. The added bonus is that it’s also good for you!
If you, yourself, are trying to establish a routine to get yourself moving, think of your dog as your exercise partner and get out there!
Go on a Run
I, personally, am not a runner. But a walk is not enough to release my dog’s daily pent up energy. I am fortunate that my husband loves all forms of exercise, so he often takes our high energy pup for a 15-20 minute run in the morning before work. Once that burst of energy has been burned off, it creates an entirely different mood for the day. Instead of vibrating with pent up energy and looking for outlets for his bad behavior, our dog’s brain is calm and he is able to relax.
Take Your Dog for a Bike Ride
This is also a good solution for high energy dogs that are easier on their owners than running. You can use a bike attachment such as a Springer Dog Exerciser or a Bike Tow Leash that attaches to the frame of your bike and keeps your dog by your side as you go. These should be used with a harness and not a regular collar to prevent neck injury if your dog stops suddenly.
We personally use the Bike Tow Leash for our pitbull, Buddy, and he absolutely loves it. When the weather isn’t freezing during the winter, he gets super excited each day when he sees the bike being wheeled out of the garage, and he’s always much calmer throughout the day after a mile bike ride or so.
Depending on how fast you’re going, this can be pretty intense exercise for your pup. Make sure during the hotter months of summer especially that you’re not overworking them and that they have plenty of water after their run.
Fetch is the iconic activity we all imagine doing with our dogs before they join our family. It’s a great way to wear a dog out. And with the invention of things like the Chuckit! Ball Launcher, you can really get your dog moving if you have space.
When the weather doesn’t permit, you can also play a game of fetch from the comfort of your own couch. If you’re having trouble teaching your dog to fetch, check out the proper steps in this quick video.
Run Up and Down the Stairs
This is a fast, high energy burning activity for your dog that can be done in the comfort of your own home. Even our high energy dog is worn out from doing this after just a couple of minutes. Be aware that this is not generally a great activity for dogs with short legs.
Our dog will do this with just verbal encouragement, but if you need to, use a small treat or throw a toy to encourage your dog until he gets the hang of it.
Make Your Dog Work for Treats
You can hide treats around the house to make your dog work that nose and stimulate his mind. Hide treats behind a door or underneath the bathroom rug. You can also use a treat dispensing toy which will compel them to figure out how to get the toy to release the treat.
Check out the Magic Mushroom, or the OurPets IQ Treat Ball. Fill a Kong or a RedBarn Bone with a mix of soaked kibble and peanut butter and freeze it. When you give it to your dog, this could last for hours depending on their level of determination.
Give Your Dog a Proper Chew Toy
Make sure your dog has a proper chew toy available to her so she not just chewing on things she shouldn’t be chewing on. We are partial to bully sticks because of their digestibility, but you could use a rawhide as well. A prefilled RedBarn Bone is a good option, and once your dog scavenges all the filling from inside the bone, you can refill it yourself with a mix of soaked kibble and peanut butter that you can freeze for future use.
Take Your Dog to the Pet Store
Give your dog a car ride and take him to the local pet store. The car ride offers mental stimulation, followed by the opportunity to sniff around, try out a new toy, and meet new people and other furry friends.
A treadmill is a great way to exercise your dog indoors on a freezing cold, rainy day. We didn’t want to purchase one, but had a friend with an older model they were no longer using who let us relocate this behemoth device to our home to try with our dog. Be aware that exercising your dog on a treadmill does take training.
First, get your dog used to the sight and sound of a running treadmill. Then, get your dog used to being on the treadmill when it’s not running using a “place” command. This communicates to your dog that when you’re on the treadmill, you’re on the treadmill, and you don’t come off until I release you. Reward him with small treats or praise.
When your dog is comfortable, start the treadmill at a slow speed. You can stand in front of the treadmill with a treat, holding your dog’s leash, to encourage him to keep walking up near the front of the treadmill and not roll off the back.
Over the next couple of days or weeks (timing is different for every dog), slowly increase the speed and length of time your pup stays on the treadmill. For a medium-sized dog, 3-4 miles an hour should keep them at a decent trot.
Dog Park or a Dog Play Date
If your dog is well-socialized and behaves properly around other dogs, take her to a dog park to play. Off-leash running lets your dog set the pace so she can burn energy and then rest when she’s tired. A dog park also offers the chance to socialize and provides mental stimulation that comes from unhindered exploration. If you don’t have time to go to a dog park and your dog has a dog friend in the neighborhood, see if the neighbor dog has availability for some supervised play in your fenced-in yard for 10 or 15 minutes.
Our dog goes crazy for his flirt pole. It’s basically the dog toy version of the carrot and the stick at high speed. You drag it along the ground and your dog chases it. The best part is, you can make one yourself for about $5. It’s a great way to exercise your dog without a lot of space, as you’re essentially staying in a relatively tight circle. You’ll need a length of PVC pipe, a piece of rope, and a stuffed animal dog toy. Check out this video to see how easy it is.
When it comes to dog ownership, pent up energy can be the death of joy. Dogs can’t communicate to us that, on the inside, they feel like they are coming unglued from all that energy just bursting at the seams. And when they take the initiative to find outlets for that energy on their own, it’s generally in the form of bad behavior. Do what you can to stop bad behavior before it starts by providing the proper outlets for your dog’s energy. Because at the end of the day, a tired dog is a good dog.