By Andrea Servadio, Co-Owner Fitdog Sports Club
One of the most common mistakes dog owners make is not giving their furry friend enough exercise, which can lead to boredom and potentially neurotic and destructive behaviors. In fact, many owners mistakenly rely on doggy daycare as the primary source of their dog's daily exercise. And it's totally understandable; daycare is an easy and convenient solution for busy doggy parents. Unfortunately, while daycare provides benefits like social stimulation and opportunities for play, it is not an effective platform for keeping Fido fit, especially for active breeds and puppies.
A doggy daycare's goal is to maintain a calm and safe place for dogs to interact. When dogs have too much pent up energy it can cause negative interactions in daycare. For example, a dog with pent up energy will fixate on playing and releasing energy (think "zoomies"). When dogs enter the play area in this mode, they immediately elevate the energy of the pack and often times harass other dogs to play. This causes chaos and disruption in the pack environment, which is not well received by senior pack members.
If you have a high-energy dog, you want to exercise him or her before daycare, so he or she does not have to rely on playing with other dogs to release energy.
Here are 5 ways to help your dog play and expend energy so he or she is ready for positive social interactions at daycare.
- Develop a morning exercise routine: Take your dog for a 30 to 60-minute walk, jog or run (depending on yours and your dog's fitness level) before dropping him or her off at daycare to ensure that he or she has depleted some of that energy. Some active breeds and puppies might even need more than that, which is why at Fitdog we recommend treadmill training for those dogs that seem to have an unlimited supply of energy.
- Spend time playing at home: After daycare or on the weekends, break out the toys! From balls to Frisbees to tug of war, take 20 to 40 minutes to play around with your loveable canine friend! This will help to ensure that he or she will be content and tuckered out for bed.
- Become a Weekend Warrior: The weekends are one of the best times to get moving with your dog. There are so many activities to enjoy with your dog whether its water sports at the beach or lake or taking your pup out on the trails or for a long run. You can even have your dog run alongside you while you bike or skateboard. Keeping your dog active over the weekend helps to ensure they are not going stir crazy by Monday morning and ready to be back at daycare.
- Invest in dog outings or "field trips": Have a busy schedule and an active pup? You might consider signing your dog up for outdoor activities during the week without you. Doggy field trips, like hikes and beach trips, might cost a bit more than a regular dog walker, but you'll definitely enjoy the benefits from having a tired pup when you come home. Plus mixing up your dog's routine helps to mentally stimulate your dog by combating boredom and preventing destructive behaviors like chewing your furniture or shoes.
- Know your dog and breed: Finally, understand the mental and physical needs of your dog and breed. Active breeds like boxers, vizslas, and pit bulls require a lot more opportunities for exercise while others like maltese, beagles, and greyhounds (yes greyhounds) don't need as much running around. Take the time to research and get to know the energy and play style of your breed. There are plenty of resources online, such as Dogster, Petmd, ASPCA, Dogtime, Animal Plant and Wiki or you can refer to an encyclopedia of dog breeds.
Now get out and enjoy some play time with your dog!