February 19, 2020

The dog whisperer part two: Does exercise fix behaviour problems?

Learn all about dog education and dog behaviour.

Subject Matter Expert
Brydie Charlesworth; Director Dog Education Centre
Brydie is the head trainer, owner and behaviour consultant at the Dog Education Centre.  Located in Albury Wodonga the centre caters and cares for around 350 dogs per week ranging from puppies to adult dogs.

 

Hi again dog lovers.  Firstly, a big thank you for the fantastic feedback on our first article. The balanced LiFE team is working with the broader pet community, creating a holistic and codesigned resource for dog lovers. Naturally there are varying opinions on behavioural techniques and training methods. Here we’re providing methods in the dog educational space and welcome other dog behaviourist to put forward alternative views.  As a profession it is all about what works best for the dog and best for the pet parents and their personal views on dog rearing.

A brief recap on last week’s article on puppy mouthing.  A general precaution and can a puppy have a tantrum?.
When your puppy is mouthing the idea is not to discourage your puppy from playing with you. Play builds a strong and healthy bond between the puppy and his human family.  You want to teach your puppy to play gently, with continued learning of the behaviours your instilling.
Always redirect your puppy into a desired behaviour and reward their efforts.  Its important to show your puppy how to win.

A puppy can have a little temper tantrum and this generally only occurs when a puppy is overtired or overstimulated.  Puppies need lots of sleep. You want to recognise the signs that your puppy is becoming tired and put them into the place you have set up for them to sleep.  Teach your puppy to take itself to its safe space for a rest when they are becoming tired.  Prevention is better than cure here.  Keep in mind some puppies can sleep for up to 18-20 hours a day.  Rest is very important in the early stages.
When you do have children in the house with the puppy and they play with the puppy you’ll notice when the puppy is becoming overstimulated.  You want to focus on teaching the children how to play calmly rather than playing rough games for extended periods.

This week we look at the role of exercise in dog behaviour.
Does exercise fix behaviour problems?

This type of question tends to come from owners of high energy breeds although the issue of hyperactivity is not isolated to working or high energy breeds alone.  It is a complex question with a range of variables and the answer is just as complex. Changing or altering a dog’s behaviour requires a multifaceted approach. Additionally, the health, age, breed and the dogs pre-existing mental and emotional condition influence behaviour. It is not as simple as a “tired dog is a good dog”. Far too many owners are led to believe that when their dog is behaving in a manner that they don’t like, they just need to walk and exercise their dog more. Exercise doesn’t necessarily lead to a happier, more balanced and quiet dog.

Exercise can reduce the amount of excess energy that your dog has and is displaying, but unless you are incorporating training and boundaries and routine into your dogs daily life, their behaviour is unlikely to improve in the way you are hoping. Dogs are sentient beings who have biological needs, if you don’t address those biological needs, they are likely to express behaviours that can be frustrating (and sometimes expensive) for the owners.

If you aren’t utilising your dog’s brain and just exercising them alone, this just leads to a very fit bored dog which means they can go longer and harder at the behaviours that are annoying you.

Helping to keep you dog calm.
Train your dog. Fulfill their biological needs. Teach you dog new skills. If you have a dog that’s hyperactive inside, teach your dog to be calm instead and reward it. Use their daily food intake during short training sessions to teach them how you want them to behave in and around your home and what your boundaries are. 

Use your dog’s brain ? and teach it a new skill that will help you lead a better life together. Got a dog rushing out the door? Use your training time to teach them to walk through calmly when asked. Not only will your dog get tired from the training, but you’ve just solved a problem that’s annoying and dangerous.

Teaching your dog all of his/her basic commands to help make life easier while living together. This includes sit, drop, loose lead walking, recall, waiting at doors and gates etc.  Play games with your dog, they enjoy fun times too! Make sure you have a cue to start games and also to end the game, so your dog understands the rules and knows when to switch off. Environmental enrichment is a great way to use your dog’s brain while giving them their daily food intake. Give them puzzles to work on to get their food out of. Kong have some great food dispensing toys.


Teaching a dog to be calm inside is an important skill because the calmer a dog is inside the home, the more often it will be invited in which means it gets to spend more time being with the family. Set up a bed in a common area where you would like the dog to go and teach them to stay there until invited off. Use lots of positive reinforcement for going to this area so the dogs see this activity as a positive thing to do.

Exercise is important for a healthy body, but it shouldn’t be the only thing your dog receives if you want them to be happy and well rounded.

Have a great week, enjoy your dog and thank you for loving your dog as much I do.

 

 

 

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The dog whisperer part two: Does exercise fix behaviour problems? - Balanced Life