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Exercising a Dog

With the energy spectrum, it is essential to exercise a dog first to successfully train at certain energy levels.

When your dog is hyper you can train high level energy exercises such as the ones shown on the scale above. Recall, Fetch, Tug, Agility, Tracking, and Pulling Sports would all be examples of behaviours you can train when a dog is hyper.

If you want to do Heel you will need to burn off a bit of energy first to have better success in training Heel.

If you want to train Stay you need to ensure your dog is quite tired in the beginning.

In an urban area, going to a dog park is many people’s first choice. If you have read the article on Dog Parks - Good or Bad and you decided they are not conducive to your training goals then there are other options. If you are close to a dog park that does not cause problems like those listed in the article then that would be fine.

Here are some other methods for exercising your dog:

1. Dog Park – You can still go to a dog park, we just recommend going at a quiet time where you can see dogs from a long ways off and choose which dogs you are going to bring your dog around. Some parks are also secluded to just the people in that neighbourhood. You get to know all of the other dogs and if you trust them all that can be fine. Even if the dogs are good, there are certain problems that can occur for training certain dogs. The dog park article will help clear that up for you.

2. Long Line Recall – Check out the article on Recall to learn how to use this. Excellent way to train Recall, Exercise a dog, and establish Pack Structure. This is a great way to exercise a dog that is not fully trained and may run off somewhere you don’t want them to.

3. Treadmill - Running on a treadmill is something Cesar Millan made popular and it works great for exercising dogs.

4. Large Backyard – Run around in a backyard.

5. “Play” with another dog – Let two dogs run around and spar together in an enclosed area.

6. Swimming – River, Lake or Dedicated Swimming Pools in some cities just for Dogs.

7. Pulling – Use a pulling harness and hook your dog up to a sled, bike, scooter, rollerblades etc. and have them pull that weight. This tires out a dog faster than any other form of exercise.

8. Fetch – Take a look at the article on Fetch for more info.

9. Tug – Take a look at the article on Tug for more info.

10. Quad Run (ATV) – We have an arm we built that extends off the right side of the ATV and has a rope going down that hooks into the top side of a dog harness. We run dogs up and down our Gravel Road at a jog. This works fantastic for exercising high energy dogs. We would sometimes have to run some dogs 10-12 miles per day to make a dent in their energy. This isn’t an option in the city but if you have access to an ATV somewhere this can work great.

11. Car Run – Sometimes you want to be able to exercise dogs quickly. We take them out to a quiet back road and let them out of the vehicle and then we drive 1 mile down the road. They run along following the car, the dogs run full speed for a short bit and then carry on with a gallop and by the end of 1 mile they are quite tired. We load them back up and take them home and they are content. You want to ensure you have good Recall with your dog prior to doing this. Also make sure the dogs are behind you before you start accelerating.

12. Thinking – Just by making a dog think really hard to earn their food, you can tire them out very quickly. This can include Distance Commands or fine tuning hand signals or working in Distractions or teaching a brand new command.

13. Work for Their Food – Put their food in a Kong with some Peanut Butter and have them work to get it out. Using a Tricky Treats Ball also works. At many Humane Societies and Pet Stores they have a lot of Interactive Games that you can place their food into to have them work to get it out.

14. Bike Ride – This is dangerous until you have Off-Leash Heel trained. You also want to ensure you have Recall in place first as well. They do make attachments for your bike to hook a dog up to. If your dog is likely to chase a rabbit or any other distraction you should be careful. We know a lot of people who have hurt themselves badly by taking a spill off of their bike when the dog ran in front or off to the side. If you have a small enough dog you can kill them by running them over so be very careful.

15. Hiking – Go for a hike up a mountain and many dogs will be quite tired after that. Put them on a pulling harness and have them pull you up the mountain.

16. Hunting – Gopher hunting was a favourite of our dog Enzo. We would go to places where there were Gopher Holes and he would go to one and I would run to another and say “What’s this!” and he would come running over to check that one out and start digging. Then I would run to another and say “What’s this!” and he would run to that one to start digging.

17. Doggy Daycare – After a full day of supervised sparring a dog can be ready to go for training.

18. Stress – Some dogs will stress out from situations such as thunderstorms. They may get a terrible sleep and be quite tired after something stressful. You can take advantage of this situation and begin training. It will help take their mind off the stressful situation and allow them to focus better on the task at hand.

19. Obedience – Have them practice any obedience that they do know. This is a great way to tire the dog out. One was is to do “puppy pushups”. This is when you tell the dog to do sit, down, sit, down, etc. You may also tell them to go to their bed and call them back to you and repeat this several times.

20. Tracking – This is one of our favourite things to do with dogs. Hiding a toy or a person and have your dog find that toy or person. This is a great way to put their nose to work and tire them out mentally and physically.

Lots of Exercise for Certain Dogs

Some people can underestimate how much exercise certain dogs need daily. Many dogs were bred for specific jobs and those jobs required a lot of energy. Some dogs were bred to run 150 km per day.

Some may think a walk or two a day is enough to exercise the dog and for lots of dogs that is true. For others, not even close.

Huskies are some of the most hyper dogs we have worked with. The best way to tire them out is to hook them to a sled with weights and have them pull. That tires them out pretty quick.

Tip: If you are working with a hyper dog, sometimes just exercising them will get them to be good and not cause problems. We recommend taking time after they are exercised to train them. Otherwise you run the risk of conditioning an athlete dog that still isn’t well trained. Then it can take a really long time to exercise them once they are conditioned.