For your canine companion, regular exercise and mental stimulation are just as important as food and water. While some dogs may seem content to curl up on the couch, others seem to have a never-ending supply of energy. If your dog is unable to find a constructive release for that energy, it can lead to destructive behavior. Both physical and mental activities help to drain his energy levels and keep him occupied.
For some dogs, a simple walk around the neighborhood is enough to use up that energy, while other dogs may come home from a walk ready for more. If you're a runner or cyclist and feel your dog has the ability to keep up, take him along on your daily run or bike ride. Swimming is another option for dogs who enjoy the water. Take along his favorite toy and throw it out for him to fetch. Begin near the shore and gradually throw it further out. If your dog likes to dig, create a sandbox just for him. Digging is a natural behavior and a great way to burn energy. Just make sure he knows digging is only allowed in his box and not in your flower garden.
Physical games, such as fetch and tug-of-war, provide an energy release while also teaching your dog impulse control. These games engage instinctive behavior such as chasing and tugging. While burning energy, they also provide bonding time with you. Agility games, such as jumping through a hoop or running around poles, provides another way to release energy. Locate local agility clubs and consider signing up for regular classes.
Playing outside isn't always an option. Unfortunately, your dog’s energy level doesn’t care if it's raining. Luckily, you can provide ways to keep your dog active in your home. If you have a staircase, consider a game of fetch up the stairs. Place or throw a treat up to the top and have your dog go get it. This activity is not recommended for dogs who suffer with arthritis or other joint conditions. A laser pointer game is another option that plays on your dog’s chasing instincts. Use caution not to point the laser near his eyes, though. Another option is a game of hide and seek. Have your dog stay in one place while you hide treats around the house. Let him sniff out and find the treats.
In addition to physical activity, mental games are another way to burn up energy. Your local pet store carries a variety of puzzle toys that will keep your dog focused on finding hidden treats. If your dog already knows basic commands such as sit or stay, consider teaching him some new tricks, such as playing dead.