You fed, walked, and played with your pup. Isn’t that enough to get rid of their energy? The answer is both yes and no. Yes, your pup needs some form of physical activity to get rid of energy. No, walking or letting them play in the backyard is not enough to exhaust them. You also need to stimulate your dog’s breed and group’s needs to burn that excess energy. Think about my pup Baxter. His breed is rhodesian ridgeback, and they are part of the hound group. Ridgebacks were bred to track lions. Hounds love to use their nose, and are also phenomenal at tracking, detection, and pursuing prey. If I only take Baxter out for a long walk and play tug-of-war, you can guarantee that he will be climbing the walls until I stimulate the hound in him.
It’s counterproductive to take your dog on two 45 minute walks everyday to burn energy. Those walks will get him in better shape for longer walks. Remember, not only do you need to physically exercise your pup, you need to target their brain and nose to fully exhaust them. Let’s discuss some perfect opportunities to get them some extra mental and olfactory (nose) stimulation. We will also talk about the power of consistency.
Stop Feeding From the Bowl.
That’s right, stop feeding from a bowl. Bowl feeding does nothing to stimulate your pup. To get the prize, all they have to do is stick their mouth in a bowl, and then scarf down their meal in 40 seconds. There has to be a way to extend that 40 seconds to 20 minutes, right? If you invest in slow feeders, Kongs, Kong Wobbler’s, frozen Kongs, and treat dispensers, your prayers might be answered. These tools aren’t gimmicks, they were designed because someone somewhere ran into the same issue of how to burn their pups extra energy throughout the day.
You can’t start by putting advanced puzzles like frozen kongs in front of your pup, and expect them to figure it out on the first try. They will most likely become frustrated and give up. Sometimes dogs have to be taught how to think through problems. The problems should be challenging, but not too difficult. First, try using a Kong, and fill it with dry kibble. The kibble will fall out as soon as your pup nudges the Kong. Feed your pup this way for a few days. Once they become proficient, wet the kibble while it’s inside the kong. This will cause the kibble to absorb the water and swell. It will be more difficult to get out, and your pup will have to use different techniques to get the prize. Finally, you can start to put sticky treats inside like peanut butter. There are many Kong recipes online. You just have to experiment and figure out what your pup likes.
This idea is just to get your creative juices flowing, and give you a good starting point to end bowl feeding. Try to mix it up throughout the day, don’t just use the Kong all day. Use the Kong for breakfast and the slow feeder for dinner. You can even give them a kibble filled Kong outside. Scavenging for kibble in the grass is another way to stimulate your pup. Remember, make it easy and then increase the difficulty. You want you pup to think but also to have fun.
When Is Playtime?
Dogs are creatures of habit. That’s why the most effective training is consistent training. If you randomly feed, play, walk, and train your pup throughout the day, this will likely cause behavioral problems. If you cage or keep them in the house alone for eight or more hours, then those problems will grow. You need to have a daily routine. It’s ok for you to be late sometimes, but you should make an effort to keep up with your pups schedule. Confusion is chaos to dogs. If they aren’t able to figure out when things happen throughout day, they will become anxious. Consistency is calming, you will be amazed at how calm they become after a few weeks of having a consistant routine in their life.
Dedicate a specific time for you and your pup to play. Note, I said you AND your pup. Dogs are pack animals, don’t toss a toy at them and walk away. This can cause your pup to develop an aggressive behavior like resource guarding. Also, don’t ignore the possibility of separation anxiety. Seek help from your veterinarian before you give your pup any herbal or medical supplements.
Chewing Can’t Be That Important, Can It?
Dogs love to chew to relieve stress or pent up energy. The perfect way to help your pup transition from play to calm is to give them something to chew. You want to stay away from items like toys with squeakers in them, they create a playful environment. Also, stay away from treats because they do not take time to enjoy. Use items like natural chews, rawhide, or antlers. They promote a calming environment because they don’t divide their attention. All your pup has to do is focus on chewing that wonderful treat. These items require one thing, chewing. Let your pup chew for 15-20 minutes and then take it away. After a few days of a consistant routine, your pup should be more calm throughout the day.
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