Dogs are a lot like children. If you don’t give them something fun to do, they will make their own fun—and often not in ways you approve of.
Give your dog plenty of physical and mental exercise, and you get a happier, healthier, better-behaved dog. Well-exercised dogs bark less, chew less, sleep more, and rest easier when left home alone. They are also much less likely to rummage through the trash, attack the couch cushions, or pester you while you’re trying to focus.
Leash walks are great brain teasers because of all the sensory information dogs get from them, but they don’t count as aerobic exercise. Your dog needs to run, swim, or do something else that gets his heart pumping for at least 30 minutes every day.
Workouts for the Body
Chasing a ball or Frisbee. Swimming. Playing tug. Active play with other dogs. Off-leash romps or hikes. And if life is too busy, consider hiring a dog walker or, if your dog enjoys the company of other dogs, send him to doggie day care.
Workouts for the Brain
Work to eat. Biologically speaking, your dog is not supposed to have a bowl of kibble plunked down in front of him. He is a hunter by nature, meant to work for his keep. Mimic this by serving your dog’s food in a Kong or treat ball. Your dog will spend the first part of the day figuring out how to get at his food and the rest of it recovering from the mental effort. Perfect!
Toys galore. Toys are a great way to engage your dog’s brain. Dogs have distinctly individual toy preferences, depending on the day, time, and situation. Do some detective work and find out what truly tickles your dog. The best toys have a purpose. They deliver food, present a challenge, squeak, or make themselves interesting in some other way.
Keep your dog active and challenged, both physically and mentally, and he won’t get bored—and you won’t have to worry what he’s up to!