All dogs need exercise and enrichment, especially puppies and energetic dogs – some require more than others. Exercise can help curb undesirable behavior – a tired dog is a good dog! Always consider a dog’s physical health status, current tolerance for exercise, outdoor heat/weather, and anything else that could affect a dog’s ability to exercise. It is always a good idea to consult your veterinarian about what is safe and ideal exercise for your dog. Be mindful of the surfaces you work on to keep joints safe and the level of activity you ask out of a dog. When a dog or puppy lies down to rest, let them rest as it is not worth risking injury or a heat stroke. Always provide access to water and potty the dog before and after exercise. The more fun you make tiring your dog out, the better for both of you – this should be an enjoyable activity! The words puppy and dog are used interchangeably throughout this tip sheet.
Exercise: A good exercise session can get excess energy out. Each dog will vary in terms of what is needed.
- A good fast paced walk
- A jog or run
- If you have stairs, utilize them by going up and down to get a cardio workout
- Play games of: fetch, tug of war (so long as the dog obeys the rules of tug), hide and seek, or the “find it” game
- Use training sessions to exercise a dog physically and mentally – keep them on their toes by asking for known cues in a random series or doing rounds of Puppy Push-ups
- Recall practice and Puppy Ping Pong can be excellent ways to reinforce your recall while tiring out a puppy
- Training walks – take the show on the road and work your dog’s mind and body
Enrichment: Dogs need enrichment just like kids, so be sure to provide novelty for your dog.
- Teach the puppy a new cue or trick
- Go to a new place together
- Get a long line and let the puppy explore the outdoors (always with safety in mind!)
- Go for a slow-paced walk and let the puppy sniff to its heart’s content
- Dog puzzles, stuffed Kongs, bones/antlers/hooves, anything the puppy can chew on safely
- Get cheap toys the puppy can destroy if they want while you supervise
- Invest in a few durable toys that will last a long time (I LOVE the Tuffy brand)
- Get creative and make an obstacle course
- Play the muffin tin game (tiny treats at bottom of tin with puppy’s toys covering them) – this provides mental and tactile stimulation
- Cycle toys out to cut down on the chances of the dog getting bored – this not only helps toys last longer but can help you determine what toys your dog likes best
- Use feeding time to train by asking for known cues and rewarding with food
- If a puppy is off the walls with energy and is doing zoomies, let them zoom it out so long as it is not coupled with undesirable behaviors like jumping or biting. Sometimes dogs and puppies just need to run wild for a few minutes. Once done, practice some known cues
- Reward calm behavior – you will get more of what you reinforce - we oftentimes forget to reward a puppy/energetic dog when they are being calm and polite!
- Use management when necessary – tether puppy to a secure piece of furniture such as the foot of a couch and give them an area with toys/bones/Kongs; use this time to practice calm behavior - click and treat puppy for being calm. If the dog is wild move away from them, when they settle get closer and calmly reward.