How to Drain Puppy’s Energy
What do you do when your pup has a ton of energy to burn? If they don’t get rid of all that pent-up energy, they will start displaying some unwanted behaviors. Like, biting, barking, and destructive chewing. Who knows they may just explode… ok maybe not, but it certainly feels that way, right?
There are definitely plenty of other things that can happen too if your dog doesn’t get the right amount of mental and physical exercise each day. We want to avoid those unwanted behaviors and health problems. So, in this article, we are going to talk about several exercise options and give you some tips to get rid of all that excessive puppy energy.
Your dog needs the right balance of physical and mental exercise each day. So, they aren’t left with anxious, nervous, destructive energy.
Unwanted behaviors can stem from lack of exercise, overstimulation, being overtired, and of course, a lack of training. After all, our puppy only knows what we have taught them, and lack of knowledge isn’t defiance in a puppy. Remember that… just because your puppy isn’t responding the way you want, doesn’t mean they are purposely trying to upset you. They genuinely don’t know what you want them to do or they physically or mentally cannot perform what you’re asking of them.
Many times, it’s because they have tons of energy to burn off before they can focus better. I’m going to share the physical activities you can do with your dog. But, let’s talk about mental exercises first.
Yes, you heard me right, we can tire our dogs out mentally. The best way to do this is to provide your pup with some daily canine enrichment.
This means we allow dogs to play, chase, smell, chew, sniff, paw, and scavenge constructively.
There are puzzle toys and treat dispensing toys that require your pup to figure out how to get the prize out.
You can buys puzzle toys or make your own from things found around the house. You can check out more ideas about canine enrichment activities.
Now when it comes to physical exercise, it is important that you don’t push too much before your pup is physically ready. This means we don’t walk them for longer than their body can tolerate or push them to go hiking and climbing before their body is strong enough. Too much exercise isn’t good for our pups as they can get injured easily and this can affect their growth or affect them when they are adult dogs. I want to share some other alternative exercises.
“Find It” Game
This is a great game for dogs of all ages. Get some boxes or find a couple of places in your home where you can hide treats. If you use the box method, you’ll take a few of those Amazon boxes you have or even shoe boxes and flip them over and hide some kibble or tasty treats under each one. Space them out so your pup has to run back and forth between the boxes to search for the prize in training. We actually use this as a nose work exercise or even scent detection. This exercise is great for small scent hounds like beagles, dachshunds, basset hounds. And, for larger working dog breeds like German shepherd, Beauceron, Belgian Malinois, and European Dobermans
This suggestion is going to be a little nontraditional but can be a great exercise option. Especially, if you are dealing with weather-related issues that limit your time outside. However, there is a right and wrong way to do this. I’m talking about a treadmill for dogs. It is better to use one specifically for dogs instead of humans treadmills. Since the tread is longer and there are safety rails on the sides as well as the fact that the controls are typically on the side or front where a human can control them.
When you first introduce a treadmill to a dog, you will need to go slow. We are not throwing a dog on there and turning it up to top speed to make them run. This is not safe, and a great way to injure your dog. We do have to desensitize them to the machine slowly before we even turn it on. Some dogs don’t love the treadmill, so, we don’t want to force them to walk on it.
Your dog should be wearing a harness while walking on a treadmill, don’t clip the leash to the collar. You should also consider stretching your dog before they do any strenuous exercise. Just like we stretch before working out, our dogs should too. You should not cold start an exercise routine of this kind or any routine where our dogs will be running or jumping.
You also don’t ever tie your dogs up to the machine and step away. To start, you will lure your dogs on, give them reinforcement for being on it and then help them off, no treats are given when they get off. We want to add more value to being on the treadmill. So, we only give the treat or kibble when they are on it. We may do this a number of times and then end for the day.
The next level may be where we get pups on and get them to turn around and stand in the correct direction, and then get back off. We are still delivering treats or kibble each time they are on. This again is not when we turn it on. So many people are impatient and rush the intro process and in turn, creates a negative association with the treadmill because they rushed. Once your pup has a comfort level with getting on and off as well as facing the right direction, it may be time to start them out at the lowest setting for just about 5 min to start.
You will gradually increase the time over weeks and months, not within the first few days of introduction. Be mindful that, your pup shouldn’t walk more than the recommended amount based on their age. This means 5 min or so of walking for each month of age.
Mini At-home Lure
Let’s talk about other fun ways to exercise your dog. I’ve set up a mini at-home lure course for my dogs and they absolutely love it! They get a chance to run and chase the lure as it travels around the course. Be sure to follow all the safety precautions and limit the number of runs your dog makes. Most at-home units will only allow a certain number of runs before the machine shuts off. This is to prevent your dog from overworking, injuring themselves, and overheating. Yes, your dog can get heat exhaustion if you don’t limit their activity.
Dogs don’t know when to take a break before their body overheats. Their adrenaline keeps them going. So, they need your help to slow them down. Ok moving on… You can tone the activity level down a bit with the introduction of a mini obstacle course in your home or in the yard. As always we want to make this is fun and safe, for that reason we won’t be making our pups jump higher than they should. We don’t want to damage those growth plates.
You can use objects like chairs, crates, broomsticks, boards, cones, and other sturdy objects you find around the house. You don’t have to spend a ton of money to have a lot of fun exercising your dog. Reward your dog as they go through the course. Go slow, your pup may be shy or nervous about going on, over, or around these objects. Don’t force them through, just take it slow and decrease difficulty if your pup is struggling.
Next up, I highly recommend decompression walks for all dogs. A decompression walk is different from a regular loose leash walk or even a heel walk. The decompression walk is meant to allow our dog to be a dog. This means they can explore, sniff, and climb on or over objects such as fallen trees.
Decompression walks are done in secluded, quiet locations without the presence of other dogs or people as well as loud noises or traffic. This means you may need to find a secluded hiking trail or even a cemetery where you can walk around. We want our dog to be able to focus on exploring without the interruption of distractions.
Decompression walks are done on a 20-30 foot leash, not a regular 4 or 6 feet leash. We do not want the dog to pull us all over the place the entire time, but instead, meander and walk around while sniffing and checking things out. Periodically a check-in is required. This means the dog stops and engages with you in some way. This could be with eye contact or coming all the way back to you. Reinforce check-ins by using your training treats and verbal marker word.
Decompression walks should be at least one of the 2 walks you should be taking your dog on per day. Talk to your vet about flea and tick preventatives, not only when you go out on decompression walks where you’ll be walking in the woods, but for regular prevention too.
With all exercises, start your pup out slow. It’s not a competition, and you don’t want to injure them or make a negative association with a new experience or activity.
Let me know in the comments which exercise activity are you going to try with your pup?