Many pet parents don’t realize there are two different types of exercise for your dog: mental exercise and physical exercise. To have a well behaved and well adjusted dog, it is important to be sure your furry friend is receiving plenty of both types of exercise.
To have a well behaved and well adjusted dog, it is important to be sure your furry friend is receiving plenty of both mental and physical exercise.
What is mental exercise?
Mental exercise encompasses any type of activity where your canine friend must follow commands or solve puzzles to receive a prize. Prizes can range from food to praise to being given a toy. Puzzles come in the form of toys where a dog must manipulate the toy in a certain way to receive the food reward or following commands that you issued like ‘heel’ ‘sit’ or ‘stay’.
Mental exercise encompasses any type of activity where your canine friend must follow commands or solve puzzles to receive a prize.
Mental exercise takes practice to perfect and may become easier with time. This means that mental exercise must be changed frequently to continue challenging Fido and keep them mentally stimulated and exercised.
Here are some examples of fun and easy mentally challenging toys to give to Fido: https://www.kongcompany.com/recipes
What is physical exercise?
This seems a little more self explanatory – but any activity that involves prolonged periods of time with heavy exercise such as running, hiking, playing fetch, chasing other dogs at the dog park, swimming, etc. classifies as physical exercise. This is important for Fido because it allows for more “free” exercise because this generally doesn’t occur on a leash. An hour or two of physical exercise (sometimes more or less depending on your dog’s breed) can make your dog more focused on education or training classes as it tires them out and releases many of their built up energy which can act as distractions.
Any activity that involves prolonged periods of time with heavy exercise such as running, hiking, playing fetch, chasing other dogs at the dog park, swimming, etc. classifies as physical exercise.
There can be some overlap between these two categories. Activities such as agility can be classified as both mental and physical exercise. However, in order to be a good agility performer, a four legged friend should have plenty of physical exercise prior to running an agility course so they are focused to do the job being asked of them.
I encounter all too often dog owners that comment on the neurotic behaviors of their pets. In a world where ADD and ADHD is common in the human population, I think we have a tendency to place this on our pets, as well. Animals are very simple, though. If an animal is exercised properly, it will be well behaved.
When asked during my day about misbehaving pets, my question for families is always to tell me about your exercise and training routine. If the answer is, “we don’t have one” or “we go for a walk on the weekend”, then that’s not enough.
Each four legged friend has a quota that they need to reach each and everyday to be well exercised and stimulated. If your daily schedule does not allow for enough exercise then you might need to get a little creative. Try sending your Fido friend to doggy day care once or twice a week. How about making a popsicle out of a hollow toy and low sodium chicken broth? There are many options. Talk to your veterinarian – they will likely be able to come up with a few examples specifically for you and your family!
Other ideas for mental and physical exercise can include but are not limited to: Agility, dock diving, hunting, sheep herding, obedience training, leash training, or teaching a new command.
Do some research about what is readily available in your area to help keep your dog exercised and happy! Who knows, you might find a new hobby you love and enjoy it just as much as Fido!
Do you have a misbehaving dog at home? Post about it below!