No high resolution image exists...
This installment of Ask the Trainer is about meeting your dog’s exercise requirements. Wait! Don’t click away – I know it’s a touchy subject, but I have some new ideas which don’t require you to recast yourself as “athlete.”
But seriously, the first question I ask when someone calls me about training is the dreaded question about exercise and mental stimulation.
How much is your dog getting and is it enough?
I say “dreaded” because chances are the dog isn’t getting what it needs to be balanced (after all, people are only calling me if they’re having problems), and most owners are aware of this and feel some level of guilt. Unfortunately, however, lack of exercise is the number one cause of common behavior problems.
Let’s acknowledge that with today’s busy lifestyles and the inherently sedentary nature of modern living, our dogs often lead pretty boring lives with little physical activity. After all, most of us no longer need our dogs to do any real work. Their job is to love us unconditionally, which they do without effort.
What to do? Realistically speaking, most of us aren’t going to embrace a vigorous new exercise plan or acquire a herd of livestock for the benefit of the dog. So now that we’re being honest, let’s stop ignoring the problem and check out some easy and innovative ways we can do right by our best friend.
First, to determine if you and your dog are even on the same level in the energy department, take the Energy Compatibility Quiz. The quiz was designed to help people choose wisely when they’re looking for their ideal dog, but even if you already own a dog, you can at least be realistic about what you can do and what you might have to hire-out for.
Then, take a look at some options for physical and mental dog-related fun.
It should be noted that I have no financial interest in any of the ideas or products I’m mentioning. These are real ideas from colleagues and clients.
The Jogging Dog – Attention crazy lab and boxer owners! This is one of those “Why didn’t I think of that?!” ideas. Not dog walkers, but real joggers, take your dog out for a customized workout.
Bike tow leash – Lazy-people alert! I actually bought one of these when I added a one-year-old pit bull to my pack of low-energy oldsters. Best decision ever! And get this – if you’ve got a dog that loves to pull, you don’t even have to pedal!
K9 Nose Work – Not just for hounds! All dogs love to use their noses, and now there are non-competitive fun classes for pet dogs. Guaranteed to entertain and tire out your pooch.
Treadmills – Not a replacement for regular walking or jogging, but a great supplement during those months we call “winter” here in Sacramento. Check out these treadmill reviews before you shop, or email me about how to rig the one that’s collecting dust in your garage.
Games to play – Get the kids involved! Check out some easy games you can play with any dog.
Keeping your dog physically and mentally stimulated has never been easier. The benefits are two-fold: you can lose the guilt and your dog won’t be compelled to come up with his own activities, which, chances are, will involve destruction and other costly fun you won’t like!
Send questions and topics for discussion in future installments of Ask the Trainer to email@example.com.