Ask the Trainer: Buster is one busy boy
Special to the Sun
TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — Dear Carla,
We have a 1-year-old mixed breed dog named Buster who never gets tired. We love him, but he never stops moving. He is constantly in motion both inside the house and out. If we don’t pay attention to him, he either steals our stuff and runs away or starts chewing on things. Will he grow out of this? Is there anything we can do to wear him out?
Buster’s Exhausted Family
Living with a dog like Buster can be trying. He’s still young, so there is hope that he will settle, but he will likely always be high energy and will need both physical and mental exercise.
First off, a tired dog is a good dog. Always tailor exercise to meet your dog’s physical capabilities, but for a young dog like Buster it will take some real work to tire him. He needs a minimum of three good tongue wagging exercise/play sessions each day. Even a long leash walk won’t do the trick. Biking is a very efficient way to wear out a dog, but be careful about having him run for too long on pavement until his pads toughen up, and don’t overdo it because his young joints are still developing.
In warmer weather, take care that he doesn’t overheat and take water breaks or plan your ride so he can take a swim mid-way. Throw a ball or stick so he can get a workout in the water. If biking isn’t your thing, hike to the top of a hill and throw a ball down the hill. Running up and down is hard work.
For mental exercise try feeding him part or all of his daily food out of a large Kong. Soak some kibble in water until it is mushy then fill the Kong with it. Put a little peanut butter over the large hole and then freeze it. There are also many puzzle toys for dogs on the market which are designed for food delivery.
Tug-a-Jugs are easy to load and the dog really has to work to get his food.
Training is another wonderful way to exercise Buster’s brain and achieve verbal control over his actions.
Positive Reinforcement training methods are fun for you and your dog, so look for a basic manners class and get started! Once you’ve learned the basics, you can teach Buster tricks and other fun things.
For the next week or two, concentrate on getting him lots of daily exercise, play active games with him and make him work for his food. I bet you’ll see improvement.
Carla Brown, CPDT is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer and owner of The Savvy Dog Training and Education Center in Truckee. If you have a pet topic/issue you would like to see covered in the Ask the Trainer column, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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