So many great points being raised in the comments to my last post! One thing I want to be sure I am clear about: I am NOT suggesting that we should advise people to cut out neighborhood walks or giving their dog enough exercise to ‘wake’ them up. I hope it didn’t sound like that was implied in my comments. Rather, I think we need to make the general public aware that the exercise they do give their pets is often not enough to satisfy the dog’s exercise needs, and help the owners figure out what type and level of exercise the dog needs, as well as what they are able to provide. As I mentioned in the first post, my favorite solution for the owner who can’t manage more than a thirty minute walk is to add in lots of mental exercise for the dog through trick training.
The comments to the last post about increasing fitness, and therefore how much exercise it takes to ‘tire’ a dog out, are extremely interesting. It makes great sense that as any individual’s fitness increases it would take longer and longer durations to tire them — within boundaries however, as noted in the comments. That said, I very much agree that dogs need an “off” switch. Part of what I would call a “good life” is the ability to regulate one’s own arousal levels, and I’ve seen too many dogs at my office who were simply incapable of relaxing. The causes, of course, are many, from diet, to lack of exercise, to the type of exercise (constant stimulation while being constrained for example), to medical conditions, to being surrounded by families flying around like crazed frisbees in a convention of flying discs. Add on: Never being asked or told to just settle down. That’s actually one of my cues, and I don’t know how I would survive without out. It means: Stop dropping the ball in my lap or pacing around the living room like an expectant father from a 1950’s sitcom, go lie down anywhere you want, and chill out. Thank You.
This issue also raises breed differences, also highly relevant here, as some of you have noted in your comments. Surely there is not one category of “high energy” dogs, but subcategories of dogs who were, for example, bred to work hard sporadically and then rest, versus dogs who were bred to go all day long (For the later category I would include Huskies of sledding lines. Do the Husky owners agree? And can you spell Wirehaired Pointer?). For the former I’d say Dogo Argentino & Irish Wolfhounds, for example, who seem to behave like predatory cats: huge bursts of energy followed by long periods of slumber. I’d actually put many of the herding dogs in between. The BCs I’ve had all had lovely “off switches” and I think it was easier to teach them to relax than some other breeds.
There are so many other factors, including the type of exercise: mental versus physical exercise for example. Herding requires a tremendous number of difficult, nuanced decisions, and I wonder if that isn’t more tiring than just plain running full out? More tiring also than seeking prey? What do hunting dog owners think… any sense to that speculation on my part?
Most relevant to most American pet dogs is whether the exercise is on or off leash. Surely there must be a certain amount of stimulation and perhaps, frustration, in being restricted by a leash while encountering a vast range of stimuli. If someone asked me what dogs most want, beyond safety, shelter and social companionship, I say “Freedom” to make some of their own decisions. To go right instead of left. To stop and sniff as long as they want. To run with they feel like it and walk when they don’t
Of course, some dogs absolutely can not be allowed off leash and simply do not have that alternative. (I would never have taken my Gr Pyr Tulip on a long walk in open woods off leash for example.) Those dogs need other alternatives, different types of exercise in addition to leash walks and lots of mental exercise. I am reminded of clients I had who owned Dalmatians. In my office the dogs were OOC (my symbol for Out of Control) – and as I described to the owners, that meant the dogs were out of their OWN control, much less the owners. We trained them to indoor treadmills and they got low stimulation but highly repetitive exercise (can you say aerobics?) and calmed down profoundly after just a week or so.
It would be such a joy if everyone could take their dogs on 2 to 7 hours walks everyday, would that we all had that life (some of the people who commented to the last post manage that!). I think our challenge is to keep in mind that “exercise” is not a simple category measured only by duration, but also by the type of exercise. Some exercise relaxes and some stimulates; some is too much for one dog and just right for another. We would do well when advising the general public to keep these things in mind. And one last, but I think important point: Trying to give our dogs a great life is a wonderful thing, but sometimes I think it’s also important to remember that we do not owe them a life profoundly better than our own. Are you eating as well as your dog? Are you feeling guilty because your dog DOESN’T get a 3 hour off-leash walk every day. If so, remind yourself what the lives of most dogs, and most people for that matter, are like. Then go tell your dog how profoundly lucky she is and relax knowing that you are probably doing the best you can.
MEANWHILE, back on the farm: Hot humid day, Willie and I are in the study, the coolest room at the farm. We just got back from Phys Therapy at UW, his first since his surgery. The new is mostly good: both surgeon and PTist think he’s doing very well in terms of how he is using his leg. His range of motion is almost normal (that’s what we’ve been working on every day, so that feels really good) and he’s putting full weight, at least briefly, on his left leg. He has had a few regressions: He now has a seroma under the incision (fluid-filled swelling, relatively common from shoulder surgeries) and there is still quite a bit of swelling around the surgical site. Darn! The incision looked just perfect until yesterday! Also, he’s had 3 incidents of what appears to be extreme and acute pain –something catching on something? Each one is less intense however, so really all we can do about that is hope they disappear as time goes on. The seroma is small enough that draining is not advised, but I’ll use heat and massage to try to counter act it. It showed up the morning after I let him greet some girls helping me in the garden, and even though he had on his hobbles he was excited and did way too much flapping and flailing around. No more visitors for Mr. Willie, poor guy. But his PT is going well, he doesn’t bark at all anymore if I’m outside while he’s in the crate and he seems to be adapting to his new routine. I suspect that he is a bit depressed, but since it makes him quieter I just look at the calendar, remind myself that mild depression is not fatal in a dog, and repeat One Day At A Time.
Here’s a new peony I just planted. Such a classic in the mid-west now. Not native, but still so beautiful!
I have working border collies and hunting borzoi; IME the mentally exhausting aspects of the two activities are similar. I would speculate this is because both are DNA-originating and not externally (human) induced. Whether working a flock for hours or walking a field for hours, eyes, brain, and body are “on” the entire time. The physical aspects are also similar – brief periods of galloping (outrun of several hundred yards / coursing for 2 miles). What may be different is WHEN the dog’s brain work is most intense, stalking in BC’s and galloping in borzoi. JMO.
I think you’re right about all exercise not being equal. Ranger is more relaxed and mellow after a half hour walk somewhere new than after an hour of just walking through the neighborhood. If he’s had an opportunity to meet and greet several people on a neighborhood walk he’s more relaxed than if it was just walking. It seems to me that the more he gets to use his brain as part of the exercise the better off we all are. Usually when he does time on the treadmill (remember he’ll only walk with the front two legs) he’s at a 45 degree angle today my daughter had him at 90 degrees and he was tired out much more quickly. Walking at 45 degrees isn’t as complicated as the crossing paws that are necessary at 90 degrees. I actually filmed a few seconds of it. If it looks half decent I’ll post the link after I upload it.
I have noticed that on multi-day camping/hiking trips the various Labs owned by myself and friends will go all day at a moderate pace. These are all, with one exception, a sample of 9 Labs bred for hunting but not specifically for field trials. They are like little marathon runners. They might start out a day long hike running wildly to burn off that initial energy, but quickly settle into a quiet trot, stopping occasionally to sniff things or sprint off a short distance after some interesting critter or smell. They really tend to naturally moderate their activity. They stop and rest when we rest and are out like a light as soon as the sun goes down, but they’ll jump right up and be willing to accompany you on whatever you are doing if you show signs of moving. To my mind, that’s exactly what you’d want in a dog bred to hunt with a human on foot and at close range. In the house this seems to translate to a dog who will follow you from room to room, participate in your every activity and be game for anything you want to do at any time, although not usually in a particularly highly active/aroused state. My lab and almost all of them that I’ve known are energetic without being excitable, if that makes sense. I find in agility that I can’t get nearly as much excitement or those crazy go-for-broke runs out of my Lab like my border collie owning friends can, but I have a much easier time with my dog coping with strange environments, other dogs, weird noises, etc. and now that he’s getting to be more trained he has a lot of stamina for multi-day trials.
The Learning Vet says
Thanks for the update on Willie! It sounds like you are so good about following all the recommendations and instructions, which impresses me. Beautiful peony. I hope I will someday have time to have a garden and beautiful peonies, like you and my mom do.
As somebody who has two huskies, I can vouch for their ability to run quite a bit. Luckily they aren’t fro working lines, or I don’t know if I could provide them with enough running! I can say it has helped getting part of the yard fenced in so they can run offleash daily instead of waiting for the days at the dog park. Next we’re thinking of teaching them to pull a cart. Muahahaha.
I think it is great for owners to learn that not all exercise is created equal. One issue is to give people “do-able’ alternatives for when they feel like they are stressed out & short on time.
In a lot of families, it’s still a rare situation for the dog to have the chance to leave the yard at all. I find it frustrating that so many people are still under the impression that a dog being left in a yard alone for 8 hrs is getting “plenty” of exercise. For these families, or familes with a hectic schedule, a 30 minute walk around the neighborhood is a big deal. What I suggest for these sort of families is to go ahead and go on the 30 minute walk in a quiet neighboorhood, but include plenty of ultra short training exercises during the walk, interspersed with some toilet breaks. It sounds simple enough, but it really does wear many dogs out pretty quickly (mental + physical, as you mentioned.)
I use this sort of walk with the shelter dogs I work with, since the facility does not have training space. I walk a dog in a quieter area of town and we work on shorts bursts of training during the walk. Most of these dogs are “hyper” and overstimulated in the shelter environment, usually with no previous training ( lots of lab/pit, lab/rot & lab/herding dog mixes). Initially I was concerned about flooding the dogs, but they calm down very quickly once we start working during the walk. Just like beginning obedience, we start with sit, doggy zen and “watch” during super short (5-10 seconds) sessions on the sidewalk with traffic going by. We walk for 3-5 minutes then 10 more seconds of work. I watch mental fatigue levels and keep things very easy near the end of the walk.
By the times we get back to the shelter, the dogs are tired & much calmer. The dogs have good retention & I think they enjoy the experience since all are happy to see me & eager to work again.
This might be an option for people who are willing to go through a basic obedience class, but can still only manage a 30 minute walk.
“… versus dogs who were bred to go all day long (For the later category I would include Huskies of sledding lines. Do the Husky owners agree? And can you spell Wirehaired Pointer?)”
I would also like to offer up American Pit Bull Terriers into this category!
I don’t know what I would do without an “off switch” for my boy. Kane is go-go-go from the minute he gets up. He would play fetch until he had to drag himself back to me with the ball if I let him. He could hike off-leash with a dopey grin and a wagging tail all day if I didn’t have to work. I’M the one has to set the boundaries for him and say, “No, we’ve been playing fetch across the entire length of this acre field for an hour now and I’M tired and I know YOU have to be tired (right??), so we’re going to sit down and take a chill pill.”
I’ve found this to be pretty typical of the other pitties I know as well. They want to be right there with you during everything and they seem to crave action and excitement.
Interestingly enough, I found that, for him, mental exercise (trick training/shaping) is not as tiring for him as physical exercise. He just seems to enjoy getting outside and going somewhere more … fulfilling?? … than doing training. He had to be on crate rest for 4 weeks following a compound fracture (hallelujah, we both made it out alive!) and there came a point where no amount of mental exercise could tire him and get the “willies” out of him, so to speak.
Great discussion. Yes, there are different types of exercise/stimulation. Just as importantly, there are different ways that the dogs themselves respond to it.
My two Corgis are closely related (female is a three-quarter sister to the male’s dam). But they respond very differently to exercise and are very differently behaved in the house. The female will easily exhaust herself outside and will like around, calm and relaxed, inside. The male paces himself outside but therefore never seems to get tired and rarely relaxes completely unless he’s asleep: he’ll lie around the house, but always does so looking bored, sometimes with a toy inches from his nose, staring at it and waiting for someone to pick it up; sometimes obsessively chewing at a stuffed toy. Some examples of how they respond to exercise:
Off-leash hikes: The female will always run ahead, often zigging back and forth across the path. She trots faster than us, seems excited, and travels three times as far because of the constant casting back and forth. She has a high prey drive and I believe this fuels the casting behavior, which I believe is part of the hunting repertoire. The male jogs a bit slower than us. He also sniffs a lot, but tends to track more than cast (straighter lines) and stop for longer sniffs of interesting things. He therefore falls behind and will canter briefly to catch up. His demeanor, while interested and thoughtful, is more self-contained and he seems to burn less energy as a result.
Dog park/play time: The female will run back and forth, barking to get dogs to run so she can chase, barking as she chases frisbees or tennis balls. She’ll run herself til she’s physically exhausted (we must watch her or she’ll overdo it to the point of limping later). She runs as fast as she can and as hard as she can after any toy that’s thrown to any dog if she is not called off. The male will chase with enthusiasm, but then take some time to sniff around or have a nice roll in the grass or nibble on some greenery.
Swimming: The female swims like a fish and gets so excited by water that we need to literally leash her up and haul her away when it’s time to go. She swims and swims until she’s shivery. The male would rather wade and putter around the shore, sniff and explore.
Nursing home visits: The female is always at attention, looking for the next interaction. She does not seem stressed in any way (does not give calming signals or look anxious), but she stands most of the time or sometimes sits. The male is eager to greet and go on visits, but will also lay down in the middle of the day-room floor, chin on the ground, relaxed as can be while a half-dozen dogs and twenty patients interact in the day room. Not fazed by anything.
Which do I classify as higher energy? The male, because he always wants to do more no matter how much we’ve done (we once walked him in a very large St. Patrick’s day parade—- more than 100,000 spectators and about a one-and-a-half hour route with a two-hour wait before we started. I thought he’d be exhausted when we got home, but after a half-hour power nap he wanted to play). The female actually settles down in the house and is happy to just relax, rarely asking to play.
In fact, it seems more the case that the female burns her own energy off quickly outdoors while the male is always pacing himself and therefore always has more to spare. In that respect, I think his temperament would be more suitable to a working farm dog, though in fact neither of them have been bred to work for many generations.
So it’s not just that not all exercise is the same. A dog’s personality can directly impact their energy, or more accurately affect whether or not routine activity will burn that energy off.
Chin up, Willie. You are in good hands and on the mend, which while boring and tedious, is so much better than perpetually injured.
I do feel guilty. I look at my dogs not as how bad they might have had it, but I look and wonder about their intrinsic nature. My first dog, Isabella-girl is so outgoing I imagine she would love to wander about checking out everything and everybody on her own term and especially visiting those that might offer her a treat. She will never forget a place, even years later she will decide for it to be time to give it another try. She will wag her tail in great expectation of what might come her way, stubbornly insisting that closed doors just might open. Of late she really has taken to her freedom of taking her time, sniffing and checking things out at great lengths, maybe because I have been giving her more of the reins, feeling that darn guilt again about her being in pain. Strangely I never have those feelings with my little Sumo-boy. He is content near me I sense no restlessness or boredom. He will tell me when he is ready and I will on occasion tell him to cool it and to stop bugging me. He has much less of a need for socializing then my girl. I find their differences fascinating. No doubt they eat better, meaning more greens and less junk then I do! Honestly I never know if good is good enough and the best is o.k. or not. Neither do I know what anyone may or may not deserve. Society and culture does funny things to all living beings, of that I have no doubt.
Oh, the joy when the “Settle down” command finally clicks! I have an agreement with Sophy the papillon – she settles down when I ask her too, and I will play her favourite silly games with her for 5 minutes when she asks me to. 5 minutes seems to be enough – I think it is the equivalent of zoomies. Poppy the toy poodle shows much more of the temperament of a hunting dog as described above – she is either outside and alert, or inside and asleep, except for brief periods of playing with Sophy or teasing the cats. But my dogs are very, very lucky, and so am I – I have been able to take early retirement, so can spend lots of time with them, walk with them, play with them, and prepare their food from scratch; I am not fussed by mess and untidiness, so there is very little stress from that; we are surrounded by wonderful countryside – fields, woods, rivers, beaches – for off leash walks; and we live in a converted workhouse with a dozen other households, other friendly dogs, and several acres of land. “Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive”!
Alexandra W says
Didn’t get to chime in on the last post, unfortunately.
I’m blessed to live in an area where I can give my dog primarily off-lead exercise, usually in the form of two to three walks a day, sometimes with a trip to the dog park substituted (as he’s gotten older, the dog park has become less alluring for him – he’d rather play with his best friend, the lab next door, than have long romps with strange dogs).
I’m lucky to have a dog who came to me with a natural impulse to recall – he’s a hound, too, which is a bit unusual, but he does auto check-ins when we’re walking – he doesn’t like to get out of sight of me, and of course I’ve worked on training his recall above and beyond what he naturally came with. But what I’ve found is that 30 minutes off-leash equals about 45 minutes at the dog park equals about an hour on leash as far as exercise goes – a twenty or thirty minute walk on a leash does nothing to tire Romeo out. It’s getting to sniff, to run around a grassy field or crash through a trail, to set his own pace, that really tires him out and makes him conk out on the couch at home.
I’ve also noticed that his exercise requirements change with the seasons – in the summer, when there’s lots of daylight, he usually gets three walks a day – an hour in the morning, an hour in the afternoon, and a half hour to an hour after dinner. In the winter, when there’s so much less daylight, he’ll usually only get two walks. And he adjusts just fine to that.
Amy S. says
There is an absolutle difference in our corgi when she gets an on-leash neighborhood walk and an off-leash romp on some wooded trails. For obvious reasons, off-leash exercise is much harder to manage when you live in the city but we undersatnd it’s importaince. Whith that in mind… how do you all feel about those extendo-leashes?
I wonder if season comes into play here as well. This winter was very difficult to navigate due to ice, snowfalls – many parks were I walk my 2 dogs offleash were closed with no parking available and those with parking, we were restricted to small worn paths and deviating meant falling through 3-4 feet of ice crusted snow – not fun. So this winter for the first time since I’ve had these 2 dogs we did not take our daily 35 minute off leash/off road walks – we were forced to take shorter, leashed, on the road walks and supplemented with some yard playing (balls, dogs free playing together). I thought the dogs would be crazed, especially since one has SA, but they weren’t – they didn’t wake me up any earlier to go and they were surprisingly well behaved in the house most days. Now that the warm weather has hit, I am woken up by whines and the sound of elephants running around the family room (anyone else have crazy dog syndrome in the morning??) in the early hours – they want to get up and go (and no, that doesn’t mean being let out to pee in the yard – they won’t go, they want me up and dressed for a WALK). That said, once they are out the door and we do our normal 35 minute, off leash walk in the woods or at local parks, they come home for bfast and settle very nicely. They will gladly sleep and relax all day. I do get them out in the yard at least once midday for a pee break and short play and sometimes ball throwing. Ball throwing seems to “wake them up” – they don’t settle well after that, even though they are both panting and SHOULD be physically tired. We have one particularly wooded walk we do and honestly that walk “tires” them the most – they enjoy circling through the woods (for every step I take, one of my labs takes about 100 it seems as she runs through the woods and back and forth like a Family Circle cartoon), sniffing, and the total offleash pace (other places I do leash them periodically depending on who is around etc but this one location is completely remote – NEVER run into anyone else).
Both dogs also enjoy just hanging out on their own outside – they are right outside the window I work at so they will lounge for an hour or so if its a nice day after a little play tussling.
I’d love suggestions in terms of what kind of exercise is “draining” and “settling” before we leave for the late afternoon/evening (sports events, end of school year activities or trips to the local lake or pool) – ball throwing seems to rev them up but I absolutely can’t take them for another off leash walk at that time (too many young kids – I’ve tried taking them, it doesn’t work out well at all). Maybe I’ll try a 5-10 min training interval about 30 mins prior to leaving with a short pee walk… and I do need to work on “settle” command – that’s definitely lacking here.
To add to the comment about seasonality: I lived in Ketchikan, Alaska for two years (Hello Alaska! Miss you!), which is the land of the “Midnight Sun.” It’s also the land of the “Noontime Moon” but they don’t tend to mention that in the tourist literature. In summer a soft sunset occurred around 11 pm but it never got completely dark. Then around 3 am or so the sun would come up over the horizon. In winter it was dark until 9:30 or 10 and dark again by 3 pm. All I wanted to do in winter was sleep. I could have slept for 16 hours and been happy. In summer 3 or 4 hours of sleep was all I needed. I was worried it would be hard to sleep in summer before I moved there, but found I that although I didn’t sleep much when it was light outside, I didn’t need or want to. That fits with some of your comments about dogs needing less exercise in winter, yes?
And I love the “30 minute walk with exercises built in.” That’s great advice in my opinion. I’ve found it essential in my own life and to all my clients. Building training/learning into the routines of the day has so much value in so many ways. I think Ian Dunbar is the first one to do a great job emphasizing that (“life rewards”), in the 80’s, and it’s still great advice today.
Extending leashes? Disapproved of by many trainers I’ve come across, downright dangerous if used incorrectly – and sanity saving for my dog who can’t go off leash because of his issues. He spends the entire walk ranging around me quartering the rough pasture for scents (he’s half spaniel) and sticking his head into hedges to see if there are partridges hiding there. ( I’ve been told by people that I should use a long training leash instead but I’ve tried that and I always end up with it wound round my legs, or a bush, or the dog…)
Thank you for the ‘doing as best as you can’ comment, Trish! You’re right – my dog may be restricted to on-leash walks, but they feature the kind of ‘ground’ that he loves to hunt in, with lots of game, streams to paddle in, and I can take him there at quiet times and without having to go in the scary car to get there. He could do worse.
Ashley H says
I wish I was able to do off-leash hikes. My dog is reactive to other dogs (not aggressive, but he does make a lot of noise and disturbs other dogs and their owners) and young children, so I do not feel comfortable having him off-leash, although I’m sure he would like nothing better. Does anyone have any ideas on what I can do with him? I live in Madison, WI, if that helps. We have lots of lovely land all around, but it is owned by farmers or development companies and I’m pretty sure we’re not allowed on it.
Alexandra W says
Ashley, you might try googling for conservation areas or land trusts in your area – there are a lot of organizations out there that partner with working farms to preserve the agricultural areas in their original character, in exchange for some public access. A lot of my favorite walks at home are on Aquidneck Island Land Trust lands, and Google seems to indicate there are land trusts in and around Madison, WI.
Also, going to city parks http://www.cityofmadison.com/parks/parks/conservation/ during off-hours might be an option?
Ashley: I sympathize. If your dog has a 100% trustable recall, are you sure the farmers wouldn’t allow you to take walks on some of their land? You could also try contacting day care centers… some of them have play areas that aren’t being used at certain hours on the weekend. I’ve had clients borrow tennis courts (fully gated), friend’s fenced back yards… anything that makes it safe for everyone. Do you use long lines or a retractable (I know! I don’t like them either, except as jackied said, they can be life savers in some circumstances. You might want to contact Dog’s Best Friend Training to see if they could help you with the reactivity . . . Good luck, and yeah for you for being so responsible! (fyi, I can’t tell you how many clients with reactive dogs who went to the dog park “on off hours.” I began joking that’s the worst time to go!)
As promised here’s the video of Ranger on the treadmill. Excuse the mess, we’ve been sorting and integrating stuff inherited from my late grandmother.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/33350160@N02/5797865458/in/photostream oops, forgot to include the link.
I’d like to also thank you for the comment about not feeling guilty. When I got Gimmel, our agreement was that she would be able to accompany me on as many of my petsits as would work. And for 6 years, that was great. Then a year ago I got a “real” job so that I could get health insurance, and since then she still accompanies me on some petsits, but she spends a lot more time than I wish alone at home. I’ve been feeling like I have let her down. She seems to do alright while I’m gone, but it isn’t what I promised her. We are lucky to have lots of woods where she can run off-leash, and we still go for those walks. She is free to do her terrier thing and spends the whole time grinning and running full tilt up and down the hills, sticking her nose in all sorts of places, and getting in and out of the creek. One thing she loves is the “where is it?” game. I’ll hide a small treat and call out “where is it?” and she comes running and looks till she finds it. It serves as my emergency recall too, because it’ll cut through any other stimulus. I can tell when she hasn’t had enough mental or physical stimulation because her dog reactivity always worsens. I try to keep tabs on what she needs and do the best I can to keep up with it.
Ashley H says
Alexandra: Wow, I had no idea there was such a thing… this is very cool, thank you!
Dr. McConnell: Thank you for the suggestions! He does not yet have a 100% recall, but I’m working on it. It’s kind of a Catch-22 situation… I won’t know if he’s reliable until he goes off-leash, but he can’t be set loose until he’s reliable. We’re working with long lines (50 ft nylon), but I imagine he knows the difference between wearing one and not wearing one. How would I go about asking farmers if I could use their land? Just walk on up and knock on their door? =) I didn’t think about the day care, I’ll have to try that. Not sure that the Flexi leads are for us; he’s a 75 lb pit bull/American Bulldog mix that would probably either break it or rip it out of my hands if he wanted to. Love my long line, though!
I’ve contacted DBF, but unfortunately I am without a job right now so it’s going to have to wait until I can save up.
The dog park comment is amusing… you take your dog to the park at 6 am, or go out for your walk at 10 pm, thinking you’re so smart, and then you find out that that’s when everyone takes their reactive dogs. There is a dog park (I use that term loosely, it’s a fenced in muddy acre) close by in Waunakee that is usually empty, but more and more people have been using it lately. But we’ll figure something out!
Angel Stambaugh says
Kat: That’s so cute! Do you also work him from the other side of the treadmill, to work both sides of his body equally? I started training Bear on the treadmill, but haven’t pursued it more (since we didn’t need to do it for a news clip we were on, I stopped the rush to train it and haven’t gone back to it).
I wish there were somewhere local I felt comfortable letting Bear run off leash. His recall is pretty good, but I definitely wouldn’t call it 100% reliable. (Can we ever be 100% sure that it is 100% reliable??) He is part northern breed (Husky, we say, but that is a total guess). And he definitley has that independent streak. I get the feeling that he would run and run and be a few miles away from me before he would stop to look around and think, “Gee. Where’s Mom?” Laughs! Of course, I could be wrong. Although independent and also having that sometimes irritating standoffishness, he also wants to know where I am in the house. Case in point, while I was showering today, he was upstairs with his dad, gate blocking the stairs and access to me, Bear barking off and on the whole time I’m gone. I came out of the bathroom only to hear him whining, laying on the landing, nose an inch from the gate, gazing down at me. So maybe his desire to be with me is higher than I think. Hm. Perhaps I’ll take him to a large dog park one weekend (it’s an hour + drive) and test his recall in the safety of their fenced acres.
Thank you, Trisha, for the reminder to not feel guilty. Although I’m sure Bear, and I would dare to say most of our dogs, are not leading their “perfect” lives, who among us lives their “perfect” lives? But we hopefully live good lives. And give our dogs good lives as well.
Lisa W says
This is a fascinating topic and discussion. We had always been able to take our dogs on off-leash hikes/walks. They were raised that way, and while we didn
This has been a fascinating set of posts for me. We have a somewhat reactive mixed breed dog ( sometimes she does, sometimes she doesnt. Very frustrating) and a 7 week old infant. I used to walk the dog a lot– and off leash during the day when the neighbors were gone– and visit the dog park regularly. This has all stopped due to new baby and the fabulous heat (99 degrees today at 10 am). When it is cool enough for walks we are sleepimg due to the newborn’s schedule.
Our dog is obviously bored and not very happy. We tried to hire a dog walker and she refused to go off the property with him. (slipped her collar, she did, rather than go with him). The same thing happened when my mom came to stay. After 3 days of getting to know my mom, Summer refused to walk anywhere with her unkess i was with them.
Summer doesnt fetch balls, she looks distainfully at tug ropes, and she quickly figures out how to get food out of kongs. She could care less about stuffed toys. We have played the find it game with food treats but she’s not very good at it and a tubbo, so we cant do that too long. She loves to chase squirrels, but obviously this is not an option.
The doggie day care in the area closed down recently.
We have been to obediance training and she is receptive, although bored with the commands we practice because she knows them, but my sleep deprived brain cant figure out how to keep teaching her new tricks.
Any suggestions on how to both exercise my dog and keep her mentally stimulated?
I take a lot of dogs out for walks and runs. And what I’ve noticed is that the intensity of the exercise (walking vs. running) doesn’t really make much of a difference. This is probably because a person’s running pace is not very fast for a dog. What matters is that the dog gets out for a long enough mental and physical workout – an hour or more is ideal.
I also always keep them at a heel. Not sure if keeping them in a heel position does anything to tire them out mentally, but it definitely keeps them calmer throughout the walk and therefore calmer when they get home.
Wow! I never thought I would hear anyone else have ‘settle’ on cue! When people ask me what ‘settle’ means, I tell them the dog/s are supposed to leave the immediate area and ‘chill.’ I’ve been told that the concept ‘settle’ is too abstract for dogs and having a cue for it is confusing the dog. My thoughts: dogs have many more (different) abilities than we sometimes give them credit for.
If Summer will work for kibble (I’m guessing she likes it since she’s in the “Hey, Round is a Shape!” club) then I had success when Sonar was a puppy with putting her food in random empty recyclables and different containers and letting her figure out how to get the kibble out. (Like milk cartons, cardboard containers, etc) I also do this with the cat (the round cat) when he’s being annoying. Let me clarify. I put treats in the containers for the cat. I don’t put the cat in the container for the dog. Although I threatened to. Once.
We also recently switched to the Petstages ORKA Dog Tire instead of a Kong (BLASPHEMY! I know…) because it takes her longer to get the peanut butter out…. and is easier to clean. And, it doesn’t roll under furniture (which is part of the allure of the Kong, that it rolls, I know). FYI the ORKA is somewhat easier to trip over because it’s so low profile.
My dog is NOT like the Border Collie who learned over 1,000 words, but over 5 months, yes, FIVE, I finally taught her to “go get your yummy” (the tire) so I can put peanut butter in it. Since I love my dog dearly but she is not brilliant about “finding”, I have hope also that your dog could learn a similarly adorable trick like “go get me a diaper” – but it will require many steps, but would be a fun project. Another fun one is “get that” where she picks up any object you point to on the floor. This one also took some practice and she still gets confused sometimes, but it’s a fun one and easy to set up anywhere in the house. Both suggested tricks might come in handy too! I find my reactive dog is a big fan of any trick that occurs very close to me- she’s not real wild about going and finding something else too far from me. Unless of course I told her to go fetch a squirrel or a deer. She would like that a lot.
Hang in there!
Cecilia – I found Settle one of the easiest ones to teach – I just made sure I praised and rewarded my dogs when they were sprawled in a suitable place, and then linked in the Settle Down words (probably very much what you did?). Mine also know ‘I’m Busy”, which means there is no point in hassling me, or expecting to join in whatever I am doing. We are now generalising it to other people and animals being Busy, and not available for play, and they don’t seem to have much difficulty with that concept either!
Re: peanut butter and dogs. I save up the (almost) empty peanut butter jars (they are relatively small and plastic) until I have 3 – then each dog gets one. They act as though getting peanut butter this way is better than getting some on a toy or off of a spoon. Maybe they are enjoying the mental stimulation?
I am very, very fortunate to have a great place to walk the dogs off-leash every day and dogs who can be walked off-leash, but what I’ve noticed is that while I can guarantee a certain amount of time or walking (I walk), how much exercise the dogs get varies tremendously day to day. If the dogs are in a mood (cool weather, fun playmates, stars aligned), they can spend nearly the whole two hours running and wrestling. Other days (hot weather, no playmates) can be very quiet indeed, with the dogs seldom breaking that trot they can do for miles and miles. Real extremes sometimes result in actual walking, typically reserved for the end of our walk (toward the car). I notice some difference in energy level, later in the day, but not nearly as much as one might expect. They come home, eat and sleep, and are ready to go again, whether they ran ten miles or walked three.
But if I skip altogether or truncate the walk too much (anything less than an hour for my spoiled pooches) they are total squirrels all day. I’m not sure whether it has more to do with their exercise or with their expectations. A break in the routine means something is up, and it seldom means anything good (for the dogs, in any case). Otis is particularly sensitive to anything ‘out of place’ in my demeanor or behavior and I think that messing with his routine makes him nervous and frustrated, not just antsy.
The key to how tired/calm the dogs are seems to be the stimulation and frustration levels. Play (very high stimulation, mostly unstructured) leaves them ramped up, while less vigorous off-leash walking (medium stimulation, loosely but consistently structured) leaves them but much calmer.
Sandy and Otis react very differently to leashed walking. Non-reactive Sandy is so-so on leash manners. She CAN walk politely, but often needs reminding, getting excited and eager as she walks. She’ll whine and prance if she sees something very appealing (kids, dogs, animals) indicating that she feels a certain amount of frustration, but once it’s out of sight, it seems to be out of mind for her. Otis, on the other hand, hates leashed walking. He does it beautifully, a model of good heeling, but he is obviously long-suffering about it. Part of this is no doubt related to our relative sizes. Otis’ legs are just about as long as mine. To walk at my pace he has to deliberately and constantly slow himself to half his natural pace. He’ll do it, but it is boring and frustrating to him, even without temptations, and that slow, restrictive pace really seems to give him ample time to scan the environment for potential problems. Add in distractions like other dogs, chasable animals, etc. and he often returns home from a walk more tense and excitable than when he left.
They just seem to have different reactions to frustration and different tolerance levels. Sandy is easily excited/frustrated, but has a short attention span and absolutely thrives on redirection. Otis is calmer and more consistently obedient, walking beautifully on or off-leash, but he has a loooong attention span and hates to be closely managed, becoming cumulatively more tense with each distration/redirection, so long periods of leashed walking become stressful for him. On the other hand, broad directions (stay near me) he grasps easily and manages the nuances himself without stress. Sandy requires much more checking in, verbal cues, repetitive training, and confusion-clearing-up about the hows and wheres and whens. (She’s much better at independent decision making, even in the short time I’ve had her, but still not in the lame league as Otis).
High stimulation/low frustration activities seem to wear them both out the most, but the degree to which an activity stimulates or frustrates them varies a lot. Otis sleeps harder and longer after accompanying us on a wine tour (long drive in car, frequent very short leash walks, lots of new people, usually one good hike or a dog park in the middle, more stops, more people, another long drive in car) than he does after running like a maniac for two hours. For Otis, off-leash walking is much more effective than on-leash, but for Sandy, the difference is not nearly as marked, appearing calmer and happier after either. I’m not sure whether it’s because she’s less bored or less frustrated (or both), but I definitely agree that physical exertion is not the end-all be-all when it comes to dog exercise.
Big hooray for mental exercise! My pit mix loves to take a walk with a ball or other toy for which she is “responsible.” We play catch or tug with the toy when we reach an open area in the park or the dog run, but the rest of the walk she insists on carrying it — she seems to take pride in this. If I don’t have time to take her for a long walk (an hour to 90 minutes is ideal for her), I work in some training, like short sit or down stays, to give her some thinking time. A short walk along a new route is usually more tiring for her than a longer walk along a familar one. She loves action and novelty, but it clearly wears her out!
Robin M says
I have a 16-month-old Siberian, and her energy level is off the charts at times. “Settle” has been a very difficult concept for her, but she’s beginning to catch on. Once a week she goes to daycare to play with other dogs, and that always tires her out.
A normal hour walk doesn’t really do the trick, so I purchased a Springer attachment for my bicycle. That allows her to set the pace we travel, and it satisfies her desire to pull something, too. You need to have good bike skills, make sure the dog is conditioned to it gradually, bring lots of water and be prepared to stop when the dog is tired. We usually travel the first few blocks very quickly and the last few very slowly. The rides are intense but not that long.
She still needs regular walks where she can stop and sniff and explore, but those don’t tire her at all. A training walk, where she has to heel and perform other maneuvers, tires her much more; same is true for my other dogs. So we try to do both kinds of walk, as well as bike rides, and mix it up for her.
But I agree that mental stimulation is at least as important as physical exercise. My dogs love clicker training and any kind of game where they have to solve problems.
If you are living in ag country, probably the best way is to casually strike up a conversation with a neighboring farmer while you’re “just passing by”. Maybe make it a point to walk your dog down past the neighbors house when you know they are working in the front fields.
But if that doesn’t work, ya, just knock on their doors. I wouldn’t explain all about the reactivity or anything. Just ask if they would mind if you cut across their back field every once in a while while you’re walking. They’ll let you know if there are cattle in there that should be avoided or if they’re planting crops or whatever.
And I walk in development property all the time. I usually walk in the evenings when no construction activity is happening. The great thing about development property is that none of the people around are very closely related to the people who actually own the property. Technically, you’re probably not allowed on it. But who’s going to say anything as long as you aren’t damaging property or anything.
Frances, I like the ‘busy’ cue – good idea. Re: the settle – initially I was trying to use a ‘down’ to redirect a dog making a pest of himself when company came over. Then I realized that asking for a down and 1) not specifying if it was a stay-down or not and 2) not enforcing a down stay wasn’t fair to the dog. To begin with the cue was down-settle and I would praise for going anywhere else and being quiet. Now – Ursula (2.5 years old) has picked up on what settle means without anything overt on my part. The first time I used ‘settle’ as a cue I was surprised that she just took herself in the hall and laid down. I thought we were heading into a more formal training session. Maybe she figured it out just by watching what my older dog does when he hears the ‘settle’ clue.
Years ago I ran every day with my Aussie, Matilda. At one point I stopped to consider all of the running cues she learned – none of which were intentional on my part. As part of a running dialogue with myself I ended up naming behaviors (like ‘up-up’ for getting up on the curb where there is a (new) sidewalk or ‘right’ or ‘left’ to indicate a turn). It was a huge step forward for me to realize that Matilda ‘learned’ all of this without any formal training.
Barb–this too will pass. When I had twins we hired a dog walker until I realized I would much rather someone watch my babies and I leave the house for some much needed fresh air. Maybe pass the babe to mom and take the dog for a walk. Don’t worry about how long or how stimulating. You’ll feel better just getting out there. As for that brain fog? Mine still hasn’t lifted 10 years and another child later though I blame the Lyme’s– the answer is to watch a video or check out a website that has the trick steps all figured out so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Congrats on the baby!
Cecilia- that’s really cool that Ursula picked up “settle” from the other dog. I love it when dogs learn from other dogs, it’s so neat!
I love these discussions. They really make me think about what I do with Ranger. Tonight, for example, we took Ranger for a walk in an area we haven’t been in awhile, walked him on his long line and had him wear his pack. He came home had a drink and is crashed for the next few hours. The combination of greater physical exertion (pack weighs about 5lbs–he’s a 90lb dog so it’s enough to be a workout but still leaves me room to increase the weight if needed), greater freedom than a typical leashed walk, and new smells= happy and relaxed dog.
We’re gradually retraining him to the springer after a bad experience; he was told haw (left) and then turned/pulled gee (right) and the result was a minor wreck no one was hurt but it was a scare. Daughter is working on her haws and gees and Ranger is learning to trust again. He does fine on the straights but sometimes balks at the turns.
We use “working” and “no visit” when he can’t stop and solicit petting as in “s/he’s working; no visit” and “mellow” rather than settle. I don’t care if he’s wandering around as long as he’s calm and not pestering me hence “mellow” although we haven’t used it in a long time. These days he knows if he’s inside he needs to be mellow and if he wants to be rambunctious he needs to go out. Actually, these days I use a mouth kkk (really I have no idea how to spell it) noise that I call the “read my mind” command. When I make the noise he knows he should look at me and figure out what I’m asking/telling him. Sometimes it means hurry up and catch up and sometimes slow down so I expect the need to figure out from the context what I want is good mental exercise. I know that as a very smart dog if I don’t provide lots of mental exercise I’m doing him a serious disservice and that I’ll pay the consequences. What’s the saying about Border Collies–a working BC can do the work of nine men and an unemployed BC can create enough work to occupy nine men. Yeah, the same is true of English Shepherd types and I’ve got it in spades.
I feel for you having to try to keep Willie quiet!!
Your last two posts come at just the right time for me, as my cane corso, Terra, is recovering from a TPLO surgery done this past March. I literally just got back from a 40 minute walk tonight (the longest she is allowed right now) and was wondering why she seems more ramped up by the time we come home. How lucky of me to have sat down at the computer and checked your blog!
I have noticed in the last month the exact phenomenon that you are talking about. The first two months of recovery were much easier because she was calmer than the last month. As her activity restrictions have been lifted slowly, it has actually been more hard to keep her from overexerting herself because she gets more ramped up by the small amount of activity she is allowed. What great insight, the “couch potato” analogy. Even if we just take a 30 minute LITERAL walk (no trotting!!) just Friday she got a case of the puppy crazies and wanted to run around like her tail was on fire. She never tried any of that the first two months of recovery where her restrictions were firmer. She used to be an off-leash hike junky (1 hour everyday), doggie daycare regular, and would accompany myself and friends on trail rides with two BCs that never slowed down. We used to joke that she thought she WAS a border collie!
I have noticed and will openly admit that I definitely overlooked and downplayed the significance of leash walks pre-surgery. Pre-surgery she went on the occasional jaunt downtown, and went on dog friendly errands to hardware stores, banks, etc (pretty much anywhere we could get away with). But I almost never leashed her up and went walking out the door for an hour or so. I think that this recovery period has been a very good bonding experience for us and an eyeopener for me. It has shown me places we still need to work on our training (random strangers that appear from nowhere unnerve her), and given me a new appreciation for the simplicity and enjoyment that can come from a walk around the neighborhood.
BUT— I think I will have to start playing “find the keys” for another half hour in the house at the end of our walks. She is motivated by that point and using her nose is good to wear her out. We have been using that since the beginning of surgery to keep her happy and mentally challenged. As she has been getting stronger I have been incorporating her freestyle moves into the walks to keep it interesting too. Trick training has really saved me as well. We love things like “pick it up” “push” “get the door” “carry” and “find the kitty!”. Putting toys away and cleaning the house are so much more fun with a dog involved. 🙂
Here’s wishing Willie a full and uneventful recovery! Thank you for your wonderful insights and impeccable timing! 😉
I find my dogs tire out more, more satisfied with walks in new, not visited often areas, than our normal walking areas in the neighborhood. I’ve found the long lines very helpful, as to allow the dog to go where they want, next best thing to off leash. New Jerseys version of off-leash is 1-2 acres of fenced in dog parks, not a great place to go, for a lot of dogs. Having a leash reactive dog, Stanley,a long line also allows the room he needs to make the choice not to approach another dog, or react. I use a 15′ & tie a loop at 6′ for when needed. Stella seems to get more revved up after excercise. No recharging necessary.
shorty j says
Thank you SO MUCH for specifically mentioning dogs that can’t be off-leash. I live in New York City with a Jack Russell mix and she will likely never go outside off-leash in her life. (We don’t have a yard, and dog parks here are a nightmare, not only because she’s dog-reactive but also because most off-leash areas here are full of stupid people who let their reactive and ill-mannered dogs run around without having put any thought into whether or not that’s a good idea. In my neighborhood, we actually recently had one dog owner pull a gun on another after the latter refused to let the former breed their dogs.)
I think it’s a blessing in disguise, though–a lot of the folks I know who have yards think that their dog doesn’t need any other exercise or stimulation than being let into the yard for a bit. We do a TON of indoor work–it helps that she is basically a cat in a dog’s body and can entertain herself for hours by throwing her toys around. There’s a lot of things we can do indoors–we play hide and seek, make little agility courses out of the furniture, you name it.
Also, I’ve found that what really exhausts her in no time flat is nose stimulation. If I don’t have a lot of time to walk her one day, I take her to a block we don’t usually visit. She sniffs her face off and then sleeps like a rock.
Grisha Stewart says
I love this part!!! “If someone asked me what dogs most want, beyond safety, shelter and social companionship, I say
I find that my dogs never really settle unless they get in a good sprint every day. Granted, they are agility dogs and have been conditioned to expect a lot of activity every day — Mental exercise and even stationary physical exercise (like a theraball) help, but they are still twitchy until they get to run. Long icy winters can be hard on them and they end up running laps around the living room or the padded basement floors.
Two of my dogs are off leash the majority of the time — The third is rarely let off leash due to his bold, wandering nature. He has a 23′ flexi and a harness that allow him to feel more like he’s one of the pack and not so restricted. I’ve had friends comment that it’s not “fair” that Kaiser has to stay on leash — but honestly I don’t think he notices or cares. It’s just always been that way! And hey, if he’d stick around I’d let him off, but he would rather explore. He can run agility outdoors without a fence because he’s focused on a job — but freedom goes to his head on walks.
I do have sympathy for folks who can’t wear their dogs out with fetching or other sprinting games. My border collie had no interest in toys for the longest time and it was so very hard to tire her out (her preferred method was antagonizing the other dogs). I plugged away at it and built up her toy drive — And got just what I asked for….. A dog who simply MUST have frisbee, ball or agility training time every single day.
Kerry L. says
Thanks for the reminder that we don’t owe our dogs a life better than our own and that we are (most likely) doing the best that we can. How to exercise my dogs appropriately has been a such a struggle for me and I’ve spent countless hours feeling guilty about it. My 7 year-old Corgi has arthritis in his shoulders and hates to walk on sidewalks. My 9 year old Manchester terrier is bouncy and athletic and could run and explore for hours. I live in an area with severe winters, the Corgi loves the cold but loathes the heat, and the Manchester . . . well, you get it. I end up taking them to our small dog park where I hope they regulate their own activity level. Of course I have to monitor their interactions with other dogs and keep them from running the fence, it’s not ideal but it’s the best solution I can come with for my particular dogs, at this particular time, in this particular climate . . . (Every once in awhile I can get them out to a small open area and let them explore off-leash but I have to keep my eyes peeled for the local animal control officer).
With a vizsla, I don’t believe it’s possible to give him enough on- leash exercise . I simply am not fast enough to give him a work out and I can’t last long enough for him to feel the effect of the slow pace. Luckily we manage off leash most weekends and he goes to dog care 3 work days which when coupled with training exercises, short off leash runs (just to the end of the dead- end road) and on- leash time leaves me with a manageable dog. But those 2 days he stays home can be ugly when he isn’t feeling the effects of his active days. I definitely find no walks better on those days than taking him for a short one. Seems to be better to focus on training than walking. I wish there was more recognition of a dogs need for off leash activity and it was allowed in more than dog parks which I don’t really enjoy and doesn’t seem to tire my dog out as much as a good trail run (he runs, not me). For my dog who was a rescue and not socialized during his first year of life, going somewhere with lots of people and activity is also a good way to tire him out. Very mentally taxing to him even if he sat all day in the same place.
Thank you so much for your comments about mental exercise, especially as it relates to dogs on exercise restriction. My Great Dane/St. Bernard/American Foxhound mix has been restricted for 3 weeks now after he suffered a yet-as-undiagnosed nerve root issue. He has followed your hypothesis re: less exercise = less energy. Granted, he wasn’t a high-energy dog to start with, but he’s been very quiet even as I know the pain has been significantly reduced.
I find the best exercise I can give him now during this waiting period is a ride in the car. He enjoys the smells, the sights, the sounds and the feel of the wind in his face. We carefully walk him up the ramp into the back of the Subaru and let him get comfortable then we head out on some back roads he hasn’t been on for awhile. He returns home happy, energized but tired. I truly believe his energy changes — he’s more happy and more content. Soon, I’ll be able to add his girlfriend, Nala, to the car ride and then it will be just about the best it can be!
Thank you also for this statement: “Trying to give our dogs a great life is a wonderful thing, but sometimes I think it
Ellen Pepin says
I don’t know that blame would be the right term, but my dogs clearly associate unpleasant things with the person or object that is responsible for the unpleasantness. I had a shepherd/terrier mix who loved to chase squirrels. One night I heard her beating her paws on the glass sliding door to our patio, which is downstairs. I ran down stairs to stop her. I got about half way there, and then I heard glass breaking. She was nearly at the fence. When she stopped, she lifted her paw in pain, and I saw blood dripping from that paw. We called the vet, and he put 10 stitches in her paw. After that, she fought us when it was time for a vet visit. She had never liked going to the vet, but after this incident, her resistance got more intense. Did she blame the vet for her pain? Who knows? However, there was a strong association.
In addition, after she was home she refused to go into the yard. That is where she first felt the pain, so the back yard was clearly to be avoided. Even food, which she never turned down, could not entice her to go in the yard. That took several weeks.
I have heard a hanful of mushers talk about how “lazy” their huskies are when not working. One in particular said it seems to him like they seem to be aware of the need to conserve energy until it’s time to go to work. I suspect this has a great deal to do with a dog who has a routine of some kind. If a dog expects that there will be a time for hard work he will find it easier to relax when it’s time to relax. In my experience this is true even when the dog is not necessarily tired.
I wonder if people find sex to be a factor in particular breeds. I know with Samoyeds (and with some other northern breeds) females tend to be more “wheels always turning” where boys are typically more laid back. Quite often, the girls will work harder than the boys if you convince them that they want to, while the boys are more likely to do something they don’t necessarily want to do simply because you asked them to. A girl who loves to work is a force to be reconed with. (certainly there are always exceptions) My Sammy puppy boy is super laid back and “settles” without having to be told but both of his litter sisters are go-go-go all the time. He and I made our first attempt at “Urban Mushing” recently, and I am very happy with his work ethic. In less than a block he put his head down and went straight to work simply because it made me make the “happy voice”. However, I have no doubt that ultimately his sisters will out-perform him if their owners decide to run them in harness – it just may take more training/convincing to do it.
My dogs play both flyball and agility. On a flyball weekend they will run as many as 40 heats. They’ll be more tired than usual, but by the time we are home on Sunday evening they are still wanting to play ball or wrestle. However…do 10 runs of agility in a weekend and they sleep for 2 days. The mental effort required in agility totally wipes them out.
I’ve also become a fan of “urban mushing”. Even the little terrier loves it and my herding dog has no idea he’s not a Huskie. As far as he’s concerned pulling is a perfectly acceptable ‘job’.
Great topic and discussions! I was just thinking about this very thing on my own.
The first time I’ve seen the “settle” command is with a friend who uses it for her 6 month old Tamaskan. She also uses “check-in” while we’re at the dogpark or if playing starts to get too agressive. Check in is just that, the dog stops what it is doing to come and say hi to the owner, maybe get some pets and a treat.
I think exercise and socialization go hand-in-hand. While doing one you’re usually accomplishing the other. That makes for a well behaved dog; one that doesn’t bark at everything and everyone or go crazy when someone walks by on the sidewalk. That’s my feeling anyway.
Walks are generally OK but when my 15 month old Doberman seems especially amped up I take him for a jog. Well, he jogs and I’m on bike. He caught on to the concept very quickly. I pay attention to his body language and let him dictate the pace. Once we return home I’ll do a little trick or task training.
For my 11 year old Sheltie on the other hand, a walk around the neighborhood is all he needs to make him happy. He’ll do an occaisional trick but I haven’t taught him a great many.
Jenny Haskins says
Sorry, awfully late again.
But I worry about people equating ‘walks on lead’ with exercise. I can understand why taking a dog for a 30 miujte walk would hype it up — it would be a bit like doing ‘warm up’ exerccises with an athlete/gymnast/dancer and then saying ‘That’s enough for today, go back to sleep now.”
Walking on lead is a social activity, and should give the dog sniffing time. Freshening the mind 🙂
Walking at human pace is uncomfortable for many (most?) dogs. Dogs need extended ‘trotting’ time which is their natural pace. This should exercise the muscles and cause a “pleasant tiredness.”
I think htat the exercise most dogs perfer is when their people take them for a stoll in field, beach or into he bush (do you say “woods”?). Then the dog can choose whether to run around or stop and sniff, and when it is tired enough to fall in beside you to walk with you.
If you can’t do this and haven’t got a yard large enough to allow your dog to move in a regular trotting rhythm, preferably while playing with you or other dogs, then your dog is in trouble. Health wise.
Kyle Roelofs says
We have just started our dog care business and came across this blog.
Thank you so much for writing on knowing the dogs needs vs the owners capacities. It is so true that so many owners do not have the time to walk their dogs as much as they would like. Between work, children and finding down time for themselves, dog owners are often booked.
Very appreciative of the inclusion at the beginning of knowing the dog’s physical/mental needs. It is a distinction that goes unnoticed by many and needs to be emphasized. Just as some people become exhausted simply through making “big” decisions, the choices a dog makes can be just as energy draining to him/her. Knowing the dog you are caring for extremely important and very much determines the kind of care plan you implement for them.
The dogs we care for are mainly house pets who don’t get out as often as their owners would like them to. Your idea of dogs having an “off switch” is something that is new, but it makes so much sense. I think that the problem our clients’ pets face is lack of a daily on-off routine: time when they can allow themselves to be fully on and times when they need to be still and, as you say, “relax.”
Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and giving a forum for the sharing of the experiences of others!