Increased activity, no doubt, is the single most effective method to treat dog behavior problems. Unless there is a medical condition, more activity will be among dog trainers’ or behaviorists’ recommendations, no matter if they work with digging, chewing, howling, running away, or any general disobedience.
But what does this really mean? Do I have to play with my dog, talk to him, go to the zoo with him? How often should I do it? Many questions arise when you hear such a general recommendation. Let’s try to find an answer as to what that actually means.
Spending more time with your dog means anything you can do together:
- walking and running
- watching TV
- doing anything together
Of all pet animals, dogs are most connected to their owners and dependent on them. That is not a bad trait for a dog; we humans, too, love to have someone to rely on, someone to please, and somebody to love. For us, and dogs, nothing is more devastating than separation. Then why not do things together? It’s fun, after all.
How much and how often should you play with your dog?
We love saying that you should spend as much time with your dog as possible. And in many cases, your dog will crave more.
You should not load too much on your dog initially. It will not only make him feel tired and think of the activities as a no-no, but it may also harm his health. On the other hand, most likely you won’t load too much on your dog if you pay attention and keep doing activities only as long as your dog holds attention. Tiredness afterward is a good sign, but lethargy, vomiting, and heavy breathing are not.
If you’re not sure, start with short activities, such as 10 to 15 minutes, especially if you own a large dog or puppy, and gradually increase the length. Besides, 15 minutes will be easier for you to start from, too. Now let’s take a quick look at your options.
Good times to enjoy activities, especially physical activities, with your dog, are:
- mornings, when your dog wakes up and has a lot of energy to spare.
- before meals, therefore encouraging natural rhythm: hunting is done before eating, not the other way around.
- before you leave home, so your dog chooses a nap instead of howling or chewing door jambs.
- after you come back home, so your dog knows it was worth the wait. This is a good time for slow activities, such as petting and brushing or talking.
- before you go to sleep, so again, instead of ruining your sleep, your dog chooses to get some wholesome sleep, too.
- Any other time will do too. Your dog will wag his tail.
Most common activities to do with your dog
Not let’s take a look at the most popular activities to do with your dog. P.S. If you have a cat, here’s a list of activities to do with the purring one, too.
Walks are great for senior dogs, puppies, dogs that have done little previous activity, and dogs with chronic health issues (in which case you should consult a veterinarian about possible activities).
Length of walks may depend on your ability to find the time, the weather conditions, your dog’s fitness, and the health conditions of you and your dog.
We think it’s cool to have at least thirty-minute walks twice a day. That may cover times before you leave for work and before you go to sleep. But it is good to find even a small amount of time for your dog at random moments. He will appreciate it.
Running and biking
If you think walking is too boring, you can switch to running (my own favorite) and biking. It not only is more fun for you but also lets your dog meet the physical requirements for good exercise.
However, if you did not exercise with your dog consistently, start slow. Start with short walks and very short runs, and then build up gradually. Besides, if you get on wheels, remember to take safety precautions. You can read how to bike with your dog safely here.
You can play with your dog while walking or do it at a separate time in your yard. It is best to do some playing for short periods throughout whole day.
Most dogs are happy to fetch a toy, but every dog has its own preferences that may vary by temper and breed. Try different toys and sticks to find out what amuses your dog the most.
Not all dogs love water. But those who love it will enjoy swimming during a walk or if it’s a hot summer day. As with people, swimming is very good for dogs’ health. It provides a range of movements not present in any other activity. If your dog feels slightly afraid of the water, that doesn’t mean no swimming. Check this to help your dog to overcome a fear of swimming.
However, take notice of the water quality at your swimming place, and dry long-haired dogs after swimming to avoid skin problems. Also, check if the swimming place is safe.
There are numerous different sports to try with your dog:
- agility – race through obstacle course
- sled racing – dogs pulling a sled
- bikejoring – dogs pulling a bicycle
- water works – completion of different tasks in water
- cani cross – running together with your dog
- dock jumping – jumping from dock for the distance
These are just a few of the most common examples from all over the world. And new dog sports are being created rapidly. Check what dog sports are most accessible in your region and suitable for you and your dog.
Take “spending more time together with your dog” literally. Just spend the time together. Allow your dog to lie by your feet when you are watching television. Sit in the same room with your dog as you read the newspaper.
Dogs appreciate the presence of their owners. You even don’t have to interact with your dog to make him feel pleased. However, a nice hug or a cheer from time to time for no reason will make him feel like he is in heaven.
Dogs who spend time with their owners are the lucky ones. And lucky dogs are obedient dogs.