Most dogs are not as high energy as their owners believe them to be.
Now to start out straight, I’m absolutely not saying that a Pug has the same exercise needs like a Border Collie. There are certainly differences of how much exercise different breeds and personalities of dogs need.
Let me quickly tell you the story of Olive.
Olive was in our Board & Train last year.
Olive is a Border Collie that was reported to be extremely active and never getting enough always wanting to go go go.
And honestly, with a breed like that, I do usually expect a certain need of physical and mental stimulation that is higher than your average lab etc.
However, as I got to know Olive, I realized that she wasn’t high energy AT ALL. She was actually the laziest and most chill Border Collie I’ve ever seen. She was the kind of Border Collie that was actually suitable for a regular pet home, cause most of the are not.
The thing that Olive didn’t have was self soothing skills, or emotional control. She couldn’t self regulate how to go from on to off.
Once we have taught her that skill in our Board & Train (we actually teach this in all our programs), she was quite the different dog that not only was able to actually finally listen, but also to just be a good dog.
In most cases where dogs are reported as over active, constantly wanting more more and more, they are a similar case like Olive.
It is mostly human created and comes from a well-meant intentions that went wrong.
There’s usually two scenarios. It’s either the one that was conditioned to become an athlete or the one where anxiety was unintentionally positively reinforced or not addressed.
Let me show how this happens….
Dog owner gets a dog or a puppy. Knowing it’s an active breed or moderately active breed and encountering an excitable young dog initially. A dog that is ready to explore or a dog that just shows that it wants to engage in some sort activity whether it comes from an excitable or anxious point.
Dog owner starts exercising the dog and feeling that even after a long walk the dog still seems to be wanting to do more.
So there they go, they start longer walks as time go by, they increase play sessions as time go by and as the dog keeps asking for more activity the owner gives the dog activity.
They notice how after a long walk the dog is tired and takes a rest, but a soon as the nap is over the dog demands more attention, more activity, more interaction.
So the owner feels it’s still not enough so they do more. MORE ACTIVITY!
What they forget to teach the dog is to RELAX and do nothing when required!
The problem with this is, dogs lose the ability to self regulate. To learn to be calm and often times dogs like that actually can also develop additional anxiety AND reactivity.
When a mind is constantly working, not getting enough rest, rejuvenation and process time it gets in a frenzy. There isn’t enough room to deal with internal and external issues (influences from the environment) in a healthy way like all beings need to do so the mind goes into overload.
It is no different with humans...
Exercising your dog is great, please keep doing it! PLEASE
If you have an active dog, make sure you have an active life style where you can provide the mental and physical stimulation they need. But make sure to also include rest and rejuvenation in your dogs life style by promoting calmness and down time.
Ditch the exercise routine.
Instead of walking your dog at the exact same time and the same length everyday, mix things up and make sure it happens on your terms and not when the dog demands it.
Make it part of your lifestyle but don’t let it get to the point where it forms bad habits.
I’ll tell you one of my secrets. I prescribe ONE weekly day of no exercising their dog to my students and I myself practice that and it’s a great way to give me down time and the dog and we chill together 😉
About the author:
Simone Krebser - CPDT: Owner and head dog trainer of K9 Possible Dog Training serving the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia from Osoyoos to Penticton and Kelowna. Certified dog trainer, certified pet first aid instructor, member of the IACP, dog crazy and chocolate/cheese addict. “My life revolves around dog’s day in and out and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It is my goal to help enhance the lives of all the adventurous and outdoorsy dog owners that crave no limits”