I have recently been asked by several clients to help them with their dogs who won’t settle down. Coincidentally, these dogs have all been herding breed dogs. Herding breed dogs are typically really smart and need constant physical activity to keep them from behaving badly, right?
Actually, this isn’t exactly true.
Many people are under the mistaken impression that their active, intelligent, young, etc. dogs must be walked or run several times per day, play fetch until their tongues hang out and then run some more in order to tire them out and keep them happy and relaxed at home. The thing about intense physical exercise is that it can actually be energizing to the dog. Also the longer the dog exercises the more fit they become requiring more exercise to attain the level of fatigue the owner hopes to achieve. This doesn’t take into account the fact that, just like people, dogs can also develop overuse injuries, sprains and strains and unlike most people, most dogs won’t show evidence of these injuries until the injury is significant.
Walks are not for every dog. If your dog is barking at everything they see, charging here and there, panting when they aren’t hot or tired or trying to hide behind you they are trying to tell you something – this walk is stressful! Also if you are not relaxed and happy during the walk, chances are neither is your dog. Being constantly stressed is not good for any living being. Pay attention to what your pup is telling you!
Playing repetitive games like fetch and frisbee can also cause an increase in obsessive behavior in many different breeds of dogs as well as severe injuries during the game. (See the article I shared on my Facebook page for more information on this subject.)
Working a dogs brain with training behaviors like sit, down or settling quietly on a bed, training tricks such as two paws on an object, nose touch, middle or anything else that captures your interest, are very tiring and fulfilling for a dog.
Scent games are also a great way to tire out and calm down an energetic dog. You can do simple things such as scatter feeding their kibble in the grass, playing hide and seek with the kids or simply hiding treats or a favorite toy for the dog to find. You can also look into classes for Canine Nosework in your area. Nosework Magic is the school my dogs have gone to for years and they LOVE it! The other night my little girl, Rooney, had her time in nosework class. A while after we got home from class I realized I hadn’t seen Rooney for a bit. We live in a 5th wheel so there really isn’t anywhere she can hide. Bob found her stretched out full length, sound asleep on our bed. She didn’t even budge when he got out his phone to take a picture of her. I had to physically lift her to move her so I could go to bed!
A tired dog is a happy dog but be thoughtful about the way you want to tire them out. It will make both of your lives much happier and keep your dog calm and fulfilled.