Lately, I have been spending a lot of time telling people to change how they exercise their dogs. It is a common misconception – and one that I, myself, used to perpetuate – that dogs need a good hour or more of solid off leash exercise (running, jumping, playing, etc.) daily in order to properly tire them out.
We now know that activities like chasing a ball, high intensity play or even chasing bunnies are what you would call adrenalin releasing activities, ones that keep your dog in a hyper-aroused state. Not always a good thing. On leash walks, on the other hand, are what you would call an endorphin releasing activity, something that calms or sedates your dog. The more your dog has the opportunity to experience endorphin releasing activities, the less dependent he or she will be on needing high stimulus activities to tire them out.
So I was excited to see someone else writing about this (Too Much of a Good Thing: Over excitement in Exercise), as it is important to realize how we may unnecessarily and unintentionally be contributing to our dogs behaviour (and possibly long term health) problems. It doesn’t mean we should never throw the ball or let them play with their friends at the dog park. It simply means we want to find the healthiest balance of those activities so that we have a dog that spends more time relaxed than wound up.
For those of you who have dogs that never seem to tire out, I challenge you to teach them how to relax (see the video I posted on my Facebook page on October 27th) and let’s see if we can turn those adrenalin junkies into endorphin junkies. One of the positive side effects will be that you have a dog who is less likely to be reactive or stimulated by the slightest sound, movement or change in the environment and will be much quicker to calm down when they are.
Until next time,
Follow me on Facebook