There’s an expression I’ve heard from owners, vets, and trainers alike – “A tired dog is a good dog”. I know I’ve certainly found it to be true, and I think most dog parents can relate – if your dog is bored, you are going to have issues. They will chew your favourite slippers, shred an entire box of tissues, and empty every last sock from your laundry basket; they will chase your cats and bark at the window for no apparent reason. The solution to these problems – much like with a toddler – is to wear them out, and then let them rest (not letting them rest can result in them becoming over-tired, and then you’ll really see how toddler-like your pup can be).
There are a number of ways to wear out your dog, a few of which I can suggest from experience. The best part is that every one of these is a great way to bond with your pet, and many of them are just as beneficial to you as to your dog.
Fun Ways to Tire Out Your Dog
Get a move on
If weather permits, taking your dog out for a run or walk is one of the easiest and best ways for both of you to get some fresh air and exercise in. Walks can be geared up or down depending on your dog’s (and your) fitness level, and you can go for as short or as long an adventure as you like. Let your dog explore a park or trail with all of his senses, and he will be replaying the walk in his head all day – even in his sleep. Keep an eye out for any signs that your dog may be in distress though, and carry plenty of water for both of you. Keep walks short if it is too hot or cold, and remember: if the pavement is too hot to lay the back of your hand on, it’s too hot for your dog to walk on.
Go jump in a lake
This can be part of your walk, or an excursion of its own. If you have a pet-friendly beach or safe body of water nearby, try taking your dog down for a dip. Allow them to explore the shoreline and enter the water at their own pace – too much, too soon, and it can put them off swimming forever. I once knew someone who had an in-ground pool, and thought that tricking an apprehensive dog into the water would be a way to teach them that swimming was fun and a great way to cool off. He would run towards the pool while playing “tag” with the dogs, and then turn at the last second – usually resulting in the dogs performing a cartoon-like manoeuvre above the surface of the water before falling in. I know of at least one dog – my own, in fact – that would never go near a body of water again after playing this game. If your dog decides they like the water, you can swim with them, and even can try boating with them (always ensure both of you have life jackets, especially in cold water).
One of the greatest ways to wear out your dog is to socialise them with other dogs. This can be at a dog park, local trail, out with friends and their pups, or at a doggie daycare. Make sure your dog is up to date on all vaccines (most daycares will require this as a pre-requisite anyway), and supervise closely – especially at first – to make sure all of the dogs are interacting peacefully. As amazing as spending time with your dog is, nobody understands puppy games better than another puppy – and you might even pick up some tips for playing with your pet later on.
Have you ever had an intellectually challenging event and come home feeling like you’ve just run a marathon? This happens to dogs, too. Most of them love to learn, and it has the added bonus of improving their behaviour long-term. You can teach your dog basic obedience – which helps keep them safe as well, or party tricks that are just fun to do or watch (hey, nothing wrong with being able to impress visitors with your dancing doberman). In addition, puzzle toys – which can be purchased or made – keep your dog thinking for their treats.
Last – but not least – is agility training. It combines mental and physical exercise with socialisation – what better activity could you ask for? There are clubs all over the world for agility, and most have starting points where dogs only need basic obedience first. Check it out – you might be surprised at what your area has to offer.
Whatever you choose to try – and I recommend trying them all – remember that the more you do with your dog, the happier and calmer they will be. You, in turn, will be happier with them, and the bond between you will only grow stronger.