March 22, 2011

Tuesday Dog Training Tip – Mental Exercise

Author: Michele Hatley

Floofins & Co. Trainer, Michele Hatley Discusses Mental Exercise in Conjunction With Dog Obedience Training.

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We all know that exercise is good for us and it is equally good for our dogs. Obviously it is essential to exercise your dog physically for health reasons. Their life spans are not as long as ours and by keeping them healthy, we can help prolong their life. 

Many breeds were created to work and assist us. You can see this in the American Kennel Club’s classification of the different groups of dogs: Working group, Herding group, Sporting group, etc.  While many of these dogs today don’t do the jobs they were bred to do, these dogs still have the same levels of drive and energy. It is vital to find an outlet for that energy because if we don’t, it can lead to destructive behaviors or other behavioral problems.

I first got involved with dog agility with my family’s Weimaraner. It was one way we chose to exercise her physically, but it also served another purpose: it exercised Jetta mentally.

Dogs get bored and when they’re bored, they can get creative – in ways that we may not like!

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Mentally exercising your dog is just as important as physically exercising them. By training with them and giving them something to think about, it wears them out in a different way.

Besides training, two other ways to mentally exercise your dog are to fill toys with treats that your dog has to explore and move to get out (Check out Gino playing with the Kong toy in the video link above). Or, a fun game that I call the “find it” game. This involves placing your dog in a room while you hide treats in another room. When ready, let them out to go find them! The video link shows my 3 dogs playing this exact game in which it requires them to use their sight and use of smell to find the treats.

A dog that has been physically and mentally exercised is a lot less likely to find trouble and an exercised dog, is a happy dog!

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