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Mental Stimulation & Exercise

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In order to have a well behaved dog your dog not only needs you to be a good pack leader but it also needs appropriate mental and physical exercise. Exercise will not only help keep your dog healthy but it will help stimulate their lives. When choosing a dog make sure that you pick out a dog with an appropriate energy level for your lifestyle. Medium and larger breed dogs, along with small terrier breeds, tend to need a lot of exercise until they are six or seven years old. Most of these dogs need two hours of exercise a day in order to be mentally and physically satisfied. Some smaller breeds or dogs in the later years of their lives may be happy with a twenty minute walk a few times a week. No matter what age or breed your dog is, it is important to provide him appropriate exercise. Appropriate amounts of exercise will keep your dog’s heart and lungs healthy as well as help your dog maintain a proper weight. For older dogs there is nothing better than some gentle exercise to keep those joints loose and muscles strong. If you have trouble determining the appropriate amount of exercise for your dog feel free to contact us or your veterinarian. Remember there are many different types of physical exercise including walking or running (with or without a weighted backpack), playing fetch, or playing controlled tug.

When it comes to mental stimulation there are various options but they all boil down to one thing; make your dog think! Training is a great way to mentally stimulate your dog. Hold one or two short (5 to 10 minutes) training sessions a day and keep them exciting. You may want to set up a “no free lunch” policy in your house. Make your dog do something for everything. If training is not entertaining to you there are plenty of other options. Provide your dog with interactive toys. These are toys which can be disassembled by your dog such as egg babies or toys with parts that Velcro together. Give your dog a frozen Kong stuffed with their favorite treats, peanut butter, and cheese or even better canned food. When it comes to food there is no reason to feed him out of a bowl. Make them work for it by providing them feeder balls which they have to push around to make the food fall out piece by piece. These balls come in multiple levels of difficulty so start simple and work your way up. Finally, let your dog sniff. As I talked about in “A Dog’s Mind,” scent is the most important sense to your dog. For this reason, every walk doesn’t need to be to exercise for the body, let some walks exercise the brain. A dog can smell four feet underground so if he wants to stand and sniff one spot for ten minutes go ahead and let him. If you do not enjoy standing around on your walks then let your dog smell in other ways. Play “hide the treat.” Place it under a box and make your dog find it. Over time your dog will get really good at this game and you can make it harder and harder by adding multiple boxes to pick from or by choosing hiding places that are farther away. The possibilities are endless but no matter how you decide to stimulate your dog be sure to make him think!

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