Is More Exercise the Answer?

We all experience stress in our lives. Stress may cause us to become hyperactive or withdrawn. The same can happen with our dogs. After your dog experiences a stressful event, does he become hyperactive — pacing, panting, jumping up, barking, or whining? Or, does he become withdrawn by curling up and napping the day away? 

Oftentimes, people with hyperactive dogs are told to give their dogs more physical exercise. Here's the thing: some dogs are Olympic athletes. Over-exercising a hyperactive dog is just going to make him extremely fit. It may also stress your dog out even more! Physical exercise is an important part of canine well-being. However, you may never out-exercise your hyperactive dog. How much energy and time do you have to tire out your extremely fit dog? 

Instead, try engaging your dog's brain. Hyperactive dogs often lack impulse control. Replace extreme physical exercise with impulse control brain games. Start training behaviors with duration. How long can your dog sit, stay, lay down, or lay on a mat before being released? You’ll start with seconds of duration and build to minutes of duration. Next, start training the same behaviors with distractions and finally distance. This mental stimulation will tire him out and provide you with a better behaved dog! Need more brain games? Contact a force-free trainer. 

If you have a dog who is consistently hyperactive, rarely rests, and responds poorly to changes in the environment, consider contacting your veterinarian or a veterinary behaviorist. Neutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals may help you reach your dog's behavior goals faster. 

Critical thinking is the cornerstone to addressing behavior challenges. Carefully consider whether or not your dog’s behavior is improving or worsening with increased physical exercise. If more exercise is not the answer, respond to unsolicited advice for over- exercising your hyperactive dog by telling those folks to take a hike. Thank you, Genevieve Warner from Creating Fun Animals for suggesting this blog post!