Did you consider they may also need mental stimulation as well?
I recently wrote this guest blog for Dogshare about dogs and exercise:
How much exercise does a dog need?
All dogs need physical exercise on a daily basis to maintain their health and fitness. As all dogs are different, depending on the size, age, breed and health of your dog, will determine how much daily exercise is needed to meet their needs. This can range from once or twice a day and from thirty to ninety minutes and beyond. Puppies and Adult dogs have very different exercise needs, as do the seniors of the canine community.
The way you exercise your dog is also important. A nice long structured walk (allowing them to sniff on parts of the walk) will see them spent of energy, feeling relaxed and in a calmer state of mind, compared to taking your dog to an off leash dog park, while they’ll certainly spend a lot of energy, their mind set will be different. They will often be hyper and full of beans after their session and may take longer to calm down and relax mentally, after you’ve left the park. Running with your dog is also another great way to exercise your dog and if learned properly, will have your dog in a similar mindset to that of a long walk. However, not just one of these forms of exercise alone is adequate, a combination of on and off leash exercise is excellent for dogs and will support a healthy state of mind.
But….it’s not just physical exercise dogs need, they also need mental stimulation. This could include food puzzles where dogs learn to use and strengthen their problem solving skills. Environment enrichment activities where you hide and they seek their food by using their olfactory senses to seek out their meals, it’s a great time spender and nice way for them to spend some time in their environment. Food dispensing toys like Kongs, are good for stimulating minds and if stuffed with something like peanut butter, the licking action is also a calming behaviour for dogs. These are just some of the great ways to stimulate your dog and help them learn to like being outside in their environment alone.
Another great way to help spend some of your dogs mental energy is through training. Did you know a session of focused dog training can spend more energy than physical exercise? Not only does learning to train help stimulate their minds, but the structure of training can also build confidence in a dog. Through training, dogs learn they can control an outcome, you ask for a behaviour and they learn, if they give you that behaviour, they get what they want…the reward! If the reward is considered a high enough value to your dog, then it becomes a reinforcer and the dog is more likely to give you this behaviour, time and time again. Training also develops and strengthens the bond with your dog and if conducted in a group setting, can also help with continued socialisation and training with high distractions.
Tricks training is a fun way to strengthen your bond and help stimulate your dogs mind and of course, it’s super fun for the humans too!
Other activities you might like to consider to spice things up for the energetic pooch are Agility, Herding, Trieball, Scent Games and Swimming for the water loving dogs. These activities also help strengthen your bond and connection with your dog and channel that extra energy into something fun.
Lack of physical exercise and mental stimulation in dogs can lead to a number of behavourial issues from, but not limited to, barking, digging, anxiety, canine compulisve disorder (similar to OCD in humans) which can include pacing, tail chasing, air snapping and fence running, so researching your breed or mix will help ensure you’re meeting their needs on a daily basis and set you up for a physically healthy and mentally stable pooch.