I’m sure you have all heard the phrase before – a tired dog IS a good dog! Where does such a saying come from? From the fact that in today’s world TOO many dogs are left on their own to figure out ways to expel their energy – left to their own devices but handicapped by being in a crate all day, in the house all day or limited to what fun they can have alone (or even with a housemate) in their fenced back yard. Unfortunately dog owners don’t realize that this isn’t enough and that they are indeed doing a disservice – not only to their dog – but to their own home-life as well.
If we are all honest with ourselves and look at this in a logical way, we all have to admit that it is RARE for a dog to have a “job” any longer. Mostly they are kept as pets and their jobs consist of, well, hanging out with us! Its a noble profession and I for one would never have a dog free household BUT consider what dogs were bred for – a little bit of EVERYTHING. This thought doesn’t only apply to purebreds that were meant for a particular purpose either – it applies to ALL dogs. When you consider that a mixed breed has two or several breeds in their genetic make-up, you have to realize that you may be dealing with a dog who has it in their blood to herd, hunt, guard AND haul heavy objects! Dog breeds were formed for specific purposes. Certainly some of these were meant to be lap dogs, this much is true, BUT far more of them had a purpose and a job. No matter how far removed from it, some of this working instinct is left in these dogs (some more than others to be certain). Does this mean you have to get your Australian Shepherd out amongst sheep or hitch your Rottweiler to a cart? Of course not. What it DOES mean is that as pet owners, its our job to make sure that they have some outlet for their energies or suffer the consequences of our inaction.
What are these consequences you ask? All of those bad behaviors that we run to the dog trainer with, that make us considering sending the dog to a new home, that makes us wonder what on earth is wrong with this dog! A bored dog forced into regular inactivity is a dog that is likely to wreak some havoc. Left alone all day while we work, whether crated or not, the dog is, I can assure you, sleeping. Then you get home – you’re tired after a long day and would love to snuggle
on the couch with your pooch – only it isn’t to be – he’s ready to go!
Are you really surprised? Are you surprised that he is running all over, jumping on you, flying off of the furniture, bouncing off the walls? So you have a fenced in yard…..you let him out, let him run – isn’t that enough? Not really. He isn’t going to exercise himself and even if there is another dog in the family and some running and playing goes on, it isn’t as much as you think. Dogs, in reality, need more than just a run around the yard either alone or with company – they actually thrive when they have something to DO.
How do we achieve this? Its really not so hard. Instead of just sending your dog outdoors on his own, go out with him and toss a ball or a frisbee or a stick. Interact with him out there, make him think about things a little bit rather than allowing him to mosey around the yard on his own. Being outside alone isn’t always the most “fun” thing in the world for a dog – ever wonder why on earth those huge holes keep appearing in your yard? Your pup is BORED! Digging gives him something to actually do, a way to entertain himself. How about taking your canine on a walk? Doesn’t have to be a long walk – just around the block a couple of times can make all the difference. New things to smell, see, watch, enjoy. You might be getting the idea that mental stimulation is sort of what this is all about – and to a certain extent it is in conjunction with some good old fashioned exercise. A walk, as opposed to letting your dog out in the back yard, is actually making your dog, well, WALK. Add the sights, smells and sounds and its the whole package!
When your dog is left home during the day, give him something to do. There are tons of interactive toys out there – toys you can stuff with food, puzzles that he’ll have to figure out, toys that will make him THINK! Much more exciting tastes like nothing rawhide! Check out doggy daycares in your area. This is another nice alternative to leaving your dog home alone all day. Running and playing with other dogs and interacting with daycare staff can make for one tired dog in the evenings! Even one or two days a week can make the difference. Alternatively, see about dog walkers willing to come by once a day to take your dog out and about while you aren’t at home. It can make all the difference between coming home to a contented dog and coming home to a mess!
Exercise is a necessity for your dog – for his health, both mental and physical. It also can make the difference between having a dog that you love and want to be with and having a dog that drives you CRAZY. Too many dogs are given up because of behavior problems that, in reality, stem quite simply from the fact that they don’t get what they need – mental stimulation and exercise. Having a dog is far more than simply feeding and petting him – its making his life interesting and having him be part of your pack – a member who you actually spend time with doing physical things. Remember that dogs, for the most part, weren’t bred to be couch potatoes – that sort of behavior normally comes after they have gotten their zoomies out and have had at least some activity in their day. A dog can be a healthful difference for you as well – who among us doesn’t need to get out and walk once a day? Maybe longer walks on the weekend? You KNOW its true! So before you give up on your pup when his behavior starts to drive you batty, take a minute to consider – what have you done for him lately? What more COULD you be doing? Isn’t it worth a little more work on your part in order to keep your pup happy at home?