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Why are play and exercise important for our dogs?

Updated: Jan 4

Why are play and exercise important for our dogs? Play with owners and with other dogs provides your dog not only with an outlet for physical exercise, but also helps to fill your dog’s social needs. Insufficient exercise can actually contribute to problem behaviors. These problem behaviors can include destructiveness (chewing and digging), investigative behavior (garbage raiding), hyperactivity, unruliness, excitability, attention-getting behaviors, and even some forms of barking. It is especially important to ensure that a dog’s need for exercise and social interaction have been met prior to leaving the dog alone at home and prior to lengthy crating or confinement sessions.

What are good ways to play with and exercise my puppy or dog? Taking your dog for a walk is good exercise and can be enjoyable and healthy for you as well. Practice walking skills in your own yard first. Put your puppy on a leash and, with your voice and a small tug, or perhaps a food or toy reward as a prompt, encourage it to follow you. Reward the good behavior with praise. Keep initial walks short to encourage compliance. -For adult dogs that pull excessively, a head halter or a no-pull harness may help settle the dog and make walks more pleasant. Keep in mind that the walk does not have to be long. In fact, a short 10- to 15-minute “sniff” walk can be very enjoyable for your dog. Even on longer walks you can alternate periods of controlled walking at a heel with periods where the dog can explore and sniff the environment. Putting these sniffing and exploration times on a release command such as “OK,” helps the dog to understand that the controlled walk is to be maintained until the release command is given. Dogs find the scents in the environment stimulating and interesting and a good “sniff” walk can enrich your dog’s day.

Playing with your pet is an enjoyable activity for both of you. Not only does your dog get exercise, but also positive interactions take place. Training sessions can also be part of each play session so that you can gain further control, while providing social interaction between you and your pet. Many dogs also enjoy learning new tricks such as jumping through a hoop, shake, play dead and more. Our receptionist Christina is a Dog Trainer for Simba's Tail and can always assist with any additional questions or concerns when you visit next!

How can I keep my dog occupied when I am away? When you are out, or you are busy at home with other activities and responsibilities, it would be ideal for your dog to be relaxed and sleeping, but this will not always be the case. Try to follow a regular daily routine that includes walks, exercise, play time, feeding times, as well as some time that your dog spends on its own (e.g., playing with its own toys or napping in its bed). Object play and feeding toys can be used to help keep your dog occupied and stimulated at these times. If your dog does not receive sufficient stimulation to meet its physical and mental needs, he may choose to engage in other behaviors that may be undesirable to the owners. Exploring the environment, stealing food items, raiding garbage cans, chewing or digging, and attention seeking behaviors are just a few of the ways that dogs will find to keep themselves occupied. What type of games can I play with my dog? Playing with your dog not only provides an opportunity for exercise and positive social interactions, but it can also be a fun way to train. Each time you give your dog a treat or toy, or each time he fetches and retrieves, you can practice a training command such as “come,” “sit,” “fetch,” “get it,” “drop it,” or “stay.” A variety of types of interactive toys are available for throwing, retrieving and kicking, such as flying disks, balls and rubber hockey pucks. These types of toys are generally not designed to be chew toys, but they are used for games of fetch, teaching retrieval skills, and as training rewards. Here at Liberty Dog Spa, we have plenty of toys and treats to choose from for your next play sessions! Although games like chase are good exercise, they can often result in wild exuberant play that gets out of control. Similarly games of fetch can be both a great game and learning experience, but only if your dog learns to bring back and drop the toy so that the game can continue. Again, a good rule of thumb is to only play these games if you are the one to initiate the game, and are capable of stopping the game immediately should it get out of control. If you find that your dog gets too excited, begins to nip or won’t settle down while playing certain games, then you should first practice your sit, down and go to your mat training exercises. You can then use these exercises to settle the dog during or at the end of each game.

How can I keep my dog's coat clean during outdoor play?

Regular grooming appointments to keep your dog's coat trim and neat will help reduce the chances of getting mud buildup and matting. Brushing regularly will also help keep your pup from risking caring too much dirt back home with them. To schedule your next groom or bath, call 847.247.4809!

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