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!
Training your dog is supposed to benefit both you and them. It should be a bonding experience that makes the two of you work together.
If you’re doing it right, you will have a dog that fits into your life and understands what is expected of him.
“Well trained” is a subjective term. Some people think that to have a well trained dog it needs to sit, stay, come and bring them a beer. Other owners are happy if their dog doesn’t jump on visitors and magically shows up in the kitchen at dinner time (or at the sound of a cheese wrapper). “Well trained” will mean something different to each owner, depending on their lifestyle needs.
At Dawg House, we think it is important to prioritize having a stable, well socialized dog. These dogs are usually given lots of exposure to the world around them, they learn to ignore distractions and to stay engaged with their person. Dogs develop stability through their humans leadership.
A stable, well socialized dog will:
- Be able to ignore other dogs in public or greet them politely when necessary.
- Sit and wait when asked, even with distractions present.
- Walk calmly on a leash
Dogs who can do these three things will see multiple benefits. They will be safer in public, easy to handle, and they will have faith in their owners ability to make decisions. A dog who believes in their person is a happy, stable dog. Humans who teach their dogs these three things will also benefit. If you have a confident, stable dog, you have spent lots of time with them – taking them new places, working on basic commands, and exposing them to people and animals. All of this time invested means developing a deep, mutually beneficial relationship with your dog. You will have something that you can be proud of – that you love and loves you back. Like anything else in life, you get back exactly as much as you put in. Training your dog is good for your soul. Their souls need no improvement.