Mental and physical exercise is an important part of every dog’s routine. For some dogs, a thirty minute walk at the park is enough to fulfil them each day. For other dogs, however, that thirty minute walk just isn’t going to cut it. For those dogs, it’s necessary to get creative when it comes to developing an exercise regime to appropriately drain their mental and physical energy to prevent them from finding their own energy outlets in the form of destructive behaviour around the house. Here are 10 activities that are guaranteed to tire out your dog so that he can be a peaceful and well-behaved companion:
1. Playing with Toys
Playing with your dog is a great way to drain some of his energy and build his enthusiasm for interacting with you at the same time. If you have a yard or a safe, open place, Fetch is a classic option; Fetch doesn’t provide much of a mental workout for your dog, but it does give him the opportunity to just RUN. If you’re working with a smaller space, try playing a game of Tug. Not only will Tug provide physical exercise as your dog grips and pulls on the toy, asking him to Drop the toy at different intervals will engage his brain and exercise his self-control skills as well.
2. Treadmill Sessions
Teaching your dog how to walk or jog on a treadmill is a great way to tire him when you don’t have time for an outdoor exercise session. The treadmill could be used to drain some of your dog’s energy before an exciting outing. If your dog is a little bit tired, he will have an easier time settling and responding to cues while you are out.
3. Go for a Hike
Hiking with your dog could be very enriching. The ups and downs of the trail provides an excellent physical work out for you and your dog, and the new sights, smells, and sounds provide great mental engagement for your dog. If you need to add even more of a challenge to your hike, consider getting a backpack and having your dog carry some small water bottles for the journey. Sadly, many of the interesting trails in Singapore does not allow dogs. Look out for a further post on trails.
4. Scent Games
This is a great activity to do with your dog when you don’t have time to get outside for your normal walk or run. Hide a few of your dog’s favourite treats and toys in different places around the house, and then set him loose to sniff them out! If your dog is new to this game, you might need to start by hiding the goodies in one room. Once he gets the gist of the game, you can spread the hidden treats and toys to different areas of the house.
5. Bike Rides
Teaching your dog how to jog next to you while you’re on a bike is another way to tire him out quickly. Dogs can run faster than us, so riding a bike can be a good way to match their speed. There are special attachments that you can purchase for your bike that ensure that your dog can’t get too close to the tires so that you can keep him safe while riding. You will also want to make sure that you’re not dragging your dog behind you on the bike and that you’re not letting him run flat out for more than a couple of minutes at a time.
6. Interactive Toys
Enough can’t be said about the benefits of interactive toys! These toys come in a lot of different varieties and provide a ton of mental stimulation for your dog so that he can engage in an appropriate activity when you’re busy. Mental exercise is just as fatiguing as physical exercise for most dogs. Don’t be surprised if your dog needs a nap by the time that he’s finished playing with his toy!
Swimming is fantastic exercise for your dog. He will have to use nearly every muscle in his body to move through the water, helping him to build strength and muscle tone. It’s also a low-impact activity, so it can be a safer option than running or jumping for growing puppies or senior dogs. However, keep in mind that not all dogs can swim! Some breeds like Bulldogs and Mastiffs are just too dense and have a really hard time keeping afloat. You can still have some fun by teaching your dog wear a life jacket, supervise him in the water at all times, and restrict his activities to the water’s edge. There are several dog swimming pools in Singapore.
8. Train a New Trick
Training something new will always help you tire out your dog. The mental energy required to focus on the task at hand and figure out what you want him to do goes a long way in depleting your dog’s extra energy reserves. Many tricks also require your dog to use his muscles in a controlled manner that he might not be used to. For example, a simple Roll Over requires your dog to fully engage his abdominal muscles to make the full turn without continuing to spin.
9. Get involved in a Dog Sport
Dog sports are a great way to combine mental and physical activity – your dog will need to engage his brain to follow cues from you to play the game correctly and his body to navigate through the exercises of the sport. There are a ton of different options to choose from too. If you have an older or more sedate dog, you might look into formal Obedience, Nose Works, or Rally Obedience. If you have a younger or more active dog, you can do Agility, Tracking, Musical Freestyle, Frisbee, the list goes on.
10. Arrange a Play Date
Does your dog like to play with other dogs? If he does, try setting up a special play date with him and one of his friends from the local dog run. The dogs can help each other burn some energy by exploring the play area together, playing chase games, and wrestling with each other. Remember to supervise their play at all times to make sure that both dogs are enjoying the interactions, that they are getting breaks when they need it, that the play doesn’t get too rough.