I have a lab puppy staying with me right now who is becoming a dog right before my very eyes. He is growing huge fast! He looks like a dog but still acts very much like a giant puppy! Like most labs I've met, he's a lovabe and fun dude to have around- most of the time. This weekend however, I notice he is more unruly and frustrated as he tries to engage the other dogs to play. He is annoying them because he has not been getting enough exercise to help him burn off all his playful, puppy energy. He can't help himself as he tries to engage the other dogs or me to play, play, play! He is just doing what comes naturally to him. He is just trying to burn up all that energy that has been building up in there from lack of exercise and proper daily discipline and training.
I agree with Ceasar Milan, The Dog Whisperer's, philosopy that dogs first need exercise, then discipline and then affection in that order. When we exercise dogs to burn up all their pent up energy then they can relax, focus and pay attention to us. Then we can train them into the appropriate behaviors that make them loving, well-behaved companions. When we don't help them burn up all their energy, it gets stuck in them. They aren't able to focus their attention on listening to us because they are like a hyper-active child who has not had their medication. Exercise is the medication almost all dogs need in order to be happy and then be trainable. It starts there. If they aren't given a regular way to release all their instinctual hunting, mating energy, they start looking for ways to release all that pent up frustration. They start to misbehave and do things we deem as "bad."
What they are really doing is just trying to exercise their natural tendencies. If we don't give them a regular, daily, healthy outlet to burn up all their natural energy they will find a way to burn it up that we don't care for. So, if you want your dog to be better behaved then you have to start with commiting to and following through on a daily walk of at least 30 and preferrably 60 minutes each and every day. This is not only a way to help them burn up all their energy but also a time for you to bond and be their pack leader. When they get the exercise they need then they are freed up to give their mental attention to listening to and following you, their pack leader. Walking them each day can satisfy all the elements of a healthy, happy bond between you. While you are walking, you are giving them the physical as well as mental stimulation they need but you also can use that time to train them on the leash as well as to sit, stay, and focus their attention on you primarily. Once they are exercised and you have spent some time bonding with and training them on your morning walks then reward them with a treat and some of their favorite smooches like ear and belly rubs. The added benefit to you in helping your dog be happy, healthy and well-behaved through daily exercise is that you improve your health too and may even drop a few lbs along the way. It is a win/win practice for you as well as your favorite canine companion.
Life is short, wag more, bark less,
Doggie Diva Deb