Mental & physical exercise for your dog

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The importance of regular exercise for your dog can’t be underestimated, and it’s great for us too. Exercising not only provides the opportunity for physical activity, increasing fitness and overall health but is also a fantastic way to provide mental stimulation. This is crucial for all dogs and often overlooked. It makes for a far happier pet if we stimulate their brain daily, otherwise they easily become bored, frustrated and can develop problem behaviours. One way we can maximise this is by incorporating good training and play into their exercise routines. Here’s a list of suggestions on how to make daily exercise outdoors more engaging and stimulating for your dog:

  • Regular obedience training is a great way to develop a well behaved dog, but also build the bond between you and your pet. Making short obedience sessions a feature of your daily walk will mentally exercise him alongside physical activity.
  • Teaching your dog recall, to come back when called, is really crucial for safe and fun times outdoors. This starts by ensuring coming back to you is a pleasant experience; If the only time you call your dog back to you their lead is clipped on and you go home, then it will become a negative association to come back when called. Instead, call your dog back frequently throughout the walk and reward with lots of praise and excitement when they come. A few tasty treats are always a good reward too.
  • Actively work on recall in a wide variety of situations with various distractions present and reward generously when your dog performs well.
  • Another valuable command to teach your dog is ‘off’ or ‘leave’ so that you can prevent them approaching a hazardous situation or picking up something they shouldn’t.
  • Try to always reward calm behaviour especially around new situations or experiences, and try not to reassure fearful behaviour which could make it worse.
  • Playing games with your dog outdoors is a great way to tire them out physically and mentally. Take care not to overdo high impact games like chasing a ball for long periods, especially if they are actively growing as this can place excessive strain on their joints and growing bones.
  • Similarly, if your dog is getting older and stiffer, although regular exercise will keep them mobile and help their joints, overdoing the intensity of exercise may make them uncomfortable the following day.
  • Avoid exercise an hour before and after meals as this can be a risk for stomach problems like bloat.
  • Finally, if playing fetch, use tough plastic toys; some terrible injuries can be caused by throwing sticks for dogs so they are best avoided.

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