Some dogs possess significant intelligence, so much that if they are not allowed to utilize these smarts, they become anxious and exhibit behavior problems disguised as other issues. Many people try to give the dogs lots of exercise to help burn off the excess energy. But no amount of physical exercise will resolve the underlying problem. Dogs who have been bred to have a ‘job’ such as retrievers, shepherds, collies and terriers need to have an outlet for their natural abilities. Like a person who has a particular talent, if they do not have the opportunity to use that talent, they become frustrated.
For yourself, have you ever noticed that several hours of mental work can make you more tired than hours of physical exercise? This concept applies to dogs as well. Just a few minutes every day engaging your dog’s brain will have big paybacks.
Activities such as obedience training help dogs to use their brains. Obedience encourages your dog to focus on what you are saying to him. Obedience is not about making your dog submit to you; it’s more about learning how to communicate with each other. Teach your dog how to sit, stay, come and lie down. Watch your dog’s happy reaction when you praise him for coming to you! Take several minutes each day to practice some obedience work.
If you have the time, take training a few steps further and teach your dog some tricks or enroll your dog into classes such as agility, tracking, rally obedience, and flyball. These sports are both physical and mental exercise. Not all dogs will enjoy all of these activities, so try a few until you find what makes you and your dog happy!
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