All dogs have energy but adolescent dogs have TONS! I bet you already knew this!
Dogs must burn off all that energy either physically or mentally, specifically through their feet, mouths or brains. When a dog isn’t stimulated in each of these areas daily and in an appropriate way, the energy will be expended in inappropriate ways. It is a simple case of supply and demand. Here are some suggestions on how to provide creative ‘demand’ for your dog’s seemingly endless supplies of energy!
- Feet (physical) – They need to RUN! Walking, no matter how long or how far, just won’t cut it. They really need some good cardio activity where they can burn off steam! Play fetch! Play chase! Get them swimming! Practice long-distance recalls! When their physical energy isn’t expended properly, your dog will move to the next form of physical exercise – using his mouth. If your dog is gnawing on you or your furniture, it is a safe bet that they haven’t had enough exercise.
- Mouths (physical) – They need to CHEW!!! Giving your dog appropriate chew toys like Kongs, bones, food puzzle toys, and the opportunity to play tug will help to direct their excess energy to an appropriate activity. Yes, I said ‘tug’. This is a natural activity for dogs and gives them something to use their mouths on. If your dog doesn’t get enough of the right things to use his mouth on, he will use it on you and on your stuff!
- Brains (mental) – Dogs have ‘INQUIRING MINDS’! They like to figure things out. Training (not just repetitive drilling but training that requires them to really think), playing (both with you and other dogs), exploring and hunting are things that keep dogs fascinated. Dogs that aren’t using their brains will make up games to keep themselves entertained, like ripping up sofa cushions, peeling paper off walls, or chewing the flooring! (For further ideas, see the blog entitled,‘Think About It’.)
So, if your dog is mouthy with you or your things, or ‘creatively’ keeping himself busy, then you must consider whether you have a balanced economic plan. Exercise and mental stimulation are as essential to a healthy dog as food or water. Show your dog how to expend his energy appropriately and you will end his behavior problems!