Have a pooch with a bundle of energy? Having trouble expending that energy so that your pup will relax inside? I feel ya! There are a few ways that I always encourage my clients to expand their dog's regular exercise regimen with!
There are many different puzzle toys on the market today. The key is to find one that your dog can manage but not master! Every dog is different and each toy has a different level of difficulty. We use a couple different ones. The one we use the most often is the treat ball. We will put their food in it and let them work to get their breakfast, dinner or both! They come in all different styles, but really it is preference and how big your kibble is (or treats if you are using it that way).
|Beau after a weighted walk|
Backpacks are wonderful! You can start with absolutely no weight in them and slowly build up to having about 10% of their body weight! Adding extra weight causes your dog to have to focus more on what they are doing. You can have a really fit dog carrying 10% and only have to go maybe half as far on the walk to achieve the same amount of tiredness from them. If you have an overweight dog, start low and slowly work up the weight as they start to lose the excess they are carrying themselves. The main thing to remember is to not exceed that 10% limit. A dog's back is not meant to carry huge loads like that of a horse or llama. We don't want to damage their spine in the process of draining their excess energy. If you only have a little dog, small cans of dog food tend to work amazingly well. We have created our own 1 pound and 1/2 pound weight bags from sand we had laying around the house. You can use water bottles or really anything to help add weight to your dog.
|Tux loving his treadmill time!|
A lot of people look at me like I am crazy when I ask if they have a treadmill. This is a great way to drain energy on a dreary day or to pre-drain energy before a walk. The treadmill can help you still drain energy when it is crazy cold outside as well. You have to start at your dog's pace when introducing to the treadmill. I specialize in treadmill training and am more than happy to come out to your home and help you work your dog through the different stages of getting used to the treadmill. Some dogs love it and hop on way sooner than we expect (my one dog Tux needed no desensitization at all) and others take way longer (Beau took 6 months before he would even move his feet on the treadmill). No matter how long it takes, if you are committed and work at your dog's pace, you can get them on the treadmill and loving it!
Working on not pulling while walking is a great way to drain energy. If your dog is already a pro at loose leash walking, then work on all other obedience while out on a walk. Work on sitting and looking at you at corners before crossing the street. Work on sit or down stays as other dogs or people pass. The mental work out will tire your dog out a lot faster than just going for a mindless walk. If your dog has prey drive, work on leave it when small animals scamper away from you. Incorporate all of their known cues and behaviors into a walk in order to work them!
|Courtesy of outwardhound.com|
There are a whole array of different sports that you could enroll your dog in. Most of them will tire your dog out and give you the ability to practice them at home in between classes. Some of the practice may need a little bit of clever thinking on your part - agility: make your own equipment out of pvc; nosework: obtain the same scents used in class; weight pull: get a custom harness and some weight plates. All of these sports give your dog an outlet!
|Tux pulling the cart at weight pull practice|
If you don't know where to start to drain your dog's excess energy, send us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org)! We would be more than happy to share more of our experiences with you or give you our opinion on what you should try first with your pooch!