How Much Exercise Is Enough?
Majority of the population are under the assumption that to have a well behaved dog you need to just exercise the &#$% out of him or her and they will be so tired, they can't do bad behaviours.
True..... to a degree.
Think about it for a second. What happens if you were to jog a mile today? If you've never jogged before, you'd be pretty tired, right? But what happens a couple weeks down the road of jogging 1 mile every day, you're no longer exhausted from it, you could probably go another half mile before feeling fatigued, am I right? YES.
When we constantly run our dogs or walk them for 1.5 per day to try to tire them out, you're always going to have to do more and more to tire the dog out. Soon, a 1 hour walk that use to tire your 6 month old puppy out is a breeze for the 1 year old version.
You are building an incredible athlete! You are basically training your dog for a marathon when he or she is 2 years old. Why would anyone (that is not a runner) want to do this? You're just going to constantly try to keep up with your amazingly fit dog and dedicate more time trying to tire him or her out. And what's going to happen when you can't keep up with a 4 hour walk per day? Your dog will be so physically fit and use to being able to expel all this energy that your house will become a track field. Not fun for the floors.....
You're probably thinking, "this lady is crazy, she's telling us not to exercise our dogs." This is not the case, sorry, you still must exercise your dog.
Lets give a nice example here of a client of mine:
They have a very active dog and they did thorough research on the breed and were told that the dog needed TONS of physical exercise and room to run all day. So they gave it just that, they were dedicating 3-4 hours of purely physical stimulation to the dog, and constantly trying to tire the dog out as she grew older. They were joining dog sport clubs such as Flyball, just trying to keep her sated from destroying their house.
1 year later, they met me. They tell me how much exercise they give this dog, and I'm looking at the crazy dog bouncing off the walls and running inside while I'm there, the owners say "we've already been out two times today (1.5 hours already!!!!!) This was 3pm. They looked absolutely exhausted, I would be too.
I explain to them happily that they no longer have to take her to fields and run her until she drops, you should have seen the smiles on their faces, priceless.
I instructed, as I tell many of my clients, don't think of your dog as a physical vessel, your dog has a brain and that needs to be exercised no matter what the breed is, smart or dumb. We worked with the dog for 30 minutes on simple cues and tricks, the dog dropped on the floor and went to sleep 5 mins after we finished tricking.
The problem was, the owners never thought to utilize the dog's brain. Yes, your dog has a brain! He isn't just a cute furry thing. When you pair physical exercise with mental stimulation such as games, tricks, obedience cues, playing and interacting one-on-one you are training the dog's brain much like you train your muscles and the dog becomes tired without putting tremendous stress on the joints/muscles.
Try this tomorrow and you'll see the difference.
If you have a active dog - 2-3 twenty minute walks per day (not runs, or ball fetching), maybe once or twice a week a trip to the park to let them run around and feel the wind in their fur. Pair that with 2 fifteen minute brain sessions (obedience, tricks, brain games). You will have the same results as taking your dog out for hours on end throwing a ball.
Non active dog - cut it in half.
Tips: On walks, utilize their brains by training cues and commands such as heel, sit, swing to one side or the other, impulse control game with the leash (tug and leave it).