We get lots of people who come to Dawg House looking to increase their dogs’ activity levels. The idea seems to be that if you could just get that critter to run all day, surely they will be calm and mellow at home. For some dogs, this is absolutely true. A day at daycare, 30 minutes of fetch or an hour-long hike could be enough to encourage your dog to take a nap and relax so that you can focus on human things.
For others (I’m looking at you, border collies, cattle dogs, labs and shepherds from any country), physical activity is not enough. For high energy and high drive dogs, exercising their brains is an important part of the puzzle. These dogs require just as much mental stimulation as physical. So how do we make them work their brains as hard as their feet?
First, you can teach your dog to play a game. This could be hide and seek, find it, or the three cups game. All of these require your dog to use their brain and their nose!
Next, you can set up a dog puzzle. There are many for sale on Amazon, or you can make snuffle mat from old t-shirts or fleece. Check out this link to see how! Dog puzzles and snuffle mats are useful because they only require the human to set up – after that you just let your dog (and their nose) go to town.
Last, but not least (and definitely the most obvious), is to engage your dog through training and play. The time you spend teaching your dog how to interact with you is the most valuable time in your relationship. This can be fetch, tug or basic commands. It can also mean things like agility classes and obstacle courses. You can see some good in-home obstacle course ideas here!
When you’re wondering why your dog won’t relax (or why he is eating your couch) – work their brain!