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We’ve all heard the old saying “idle hands are the devil’s tools.”
The popularity of the adage stems from its validity. Those who are not able to keep themselves busy are far more apt to fill their time with inappropriate acts. If re-written to apply to man’s best friend, the notion that “idle paws are the devil’s tools” would ring true, as well. A dog who is not sufficiently engaged in physical activity is far more likely to present behavioral challenges.
Often, we hear complaints about dogs who are simply uncontrollable. They engage in destructive behaviors without any apparent or obvious reason. They may dig the dreaded backyard holes, destroy property or simply be difficult animals with whom to get along.
These problems can be the outgrowth of any number of things, but quite often the root cause of such difficulties nothing more than idleness. A dog that is not sufficiently exercised will find other outlets for his energies. Unfortunately, when left to his own devices to find an outlet, a dog may very well choose less than appreciated activity.
Professional trainers have long understood the value of exercising a dog.
Not only is the physical activity beneficial to the animal’s health. Regular exercise in a controlled manner also serves to decrease the likelihood of destructive and inappropriate behavior. Instead of needing to invent means by which to expend his energy, the dog is exercised in a directed manner and incidents of inappropriate behavior decline.
Put simply, if you don’t find a way to wear out your dog, your dog will find a way to wear you out! His idle paws will become a source of great frustration if not otherwise occupied. Thus, exercising your dog consistently will improve his behavior a great deal.
Many dog owners, however, find it difficult to find ways to sufficiently exercise their pet. This could be due to schedule or space limitations. Fortunately, there are a variety of means to exercise a dog.
The most traditional means of dog exercising remains one of the most effective: simply walking the dog can do wonders. We too often have a tendency to reduce walking the dog to a jaunt as short as is necessary for him to tend to his elimination needs.
Although dog walking certainly serves this purpose, it is important to recognize that the act of walking one’s dog also holds the promise of improving his behavior through exercise. Instead of cutting a walk short once his “business” is done, it is better to continue the walk for a longer period of time. Use the walk as exercise - as well as a great bonding opportunity.
Playing fetch is another great means by which a dog can be exercised. Even in an enclosed space, a smaller dog can get quite a workout from a brisk game of fetch. For those owners who are not feeling particular active, it is a great alternative to an extended walk, as it requires little or no real effort on the part of the owner. One can play fetch indoors with a smaller dog while watching a television program or simply relaxing in an easy chair.
Some have found they are able to train their dogs to walk on an indoor treadmill. If your dog is receptive to utilizing a treadmill, you can gain all of the advantages of lengthy walks without having to leave your home. Using a treadmill may not interest all dogs, however, and one is advised not to purchase a treadmill solely for use by a dog for that very reason.
There really is not limit to the number of ways one can find to exercise their dog. Every dog and every situation is at least slightly different, but all hold in common the presence of opportunities for quality exercise. These opportunities cannot be overlooked.
Regular and significant exercise will improve a dog’s health, create more opportunity for dog and owner interaction and can lead to amazing improvements in behavior.
You can recapture your dog’s paws from the hands of the devil! If your dog tends to be difficult, implement a regular exercise regime. There is a strong chance that simple change will have a profound impact on his behavior.
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