A Tired Dog is a Good Dog

By Terrain D.O.G.®  •   4 minute read

A Tired Dog is a Good Dog

There’s a lot of excitement centered on getting that new dog or puppy. We dream of the adventures we’ll pursue together and the deep bond that’ll be built for years to come. As a dog owner and trainer, when I think about what characteristics I want to instill in a dog or puppy, three things come to mind. I want to develop a happy dog, a good dog, and dog that loves me. I think most of us would agree, if those three things would stamp our dog’s character, we would all be pretty tickled. We will come back to this shortly.

I spend a lot of my free time training active dog breeds: herding and sporting breeds. I love working with these dogs because they are active, athletic and smart. They can be taught to do all kinds of different activities and tricks and, in my opinion, make some of the best friends you can have. For those of us looking for an adventure dog, most of the time we end up with one of these types of dogs. And while they make great companions, they can easily develop problematic behaviors and become destructive if not steered in the right direction.

I heard an old saying a while back that said, “A tired dog is a good dog.” As I’ve thought about this quote over the past couple years, I’ve realized how much truth and wisdom is in it. I think about some of the dogs that I’ve spent time with over the years working on behavior issues. Many of their issues stemmed from never getting enough physical and mental exercise. They never had their body or mind exercised enough to be tired. And so they are going to release it someway, and instead of releasing it doing good things, it comes out in very negative ways. Coming back to what I said earlier about having a happy dog, a good dog, and a dog that loves us. Often we feel the best way to develop a good dog and a close relationship with them is through buying them new toys, treats, the best dog food, and doing whatever we can to make them comfortable. While these things are all good, they aren’t what’s best for them. What these dogs need most is to be physically and mentally challenged while engaging with us.

So when I say a tired dog is a good dog, I don’t mean that we need to exercise them to the point they can’t run, or we need to drill them so much with obedience training that they burn out mentally. What I mean is we should try to daily look for ways we can give them physical activity and work on things that are going to challenge them mentally. This is different for each dog. Like humans, dogs are all wired differently, even dogs of the same breed. Some require more stimulation while others take less.

Terrain D.O.G. Training

So what are some things we can do? With puppies, it’s not good for them to get an extreme amount of physical activity. They are growing and so putting them through rigorous physical activity is hard on their joints and bones. Their attention span is short also, so doing long sessions of obedience isn’t going to get you very far. With puppies, I like to work with them often but for short periods of time. I might do three to five minute sessions multiple times a day where we are intentionally working on obedience, shaping a behavior, and/or learning to do an activity together. I also love taking puppies on short walks or having them run errands with me. These little adventures are great for exposing them to new noises, objects, and places. It also gets their heart rate up as well.

As our puppies get older or if you have an adult dog, we can do more with them. I like to try and do some sort of obedience training with my dogs daily (sit, stay, here, down, and heel). Some days we might spend more time and others it might be real quick. Oftentimes, I do this before I feed them. I also look for times when I can do some advanced training in everyday situations; having them sit beside me while we have company over, making them stay at a spot while we eat dinner, doing heel work in high distraction areas like a store. I also want them to get their physical activity as well, and so finding ways to do things together is always a plus. It could be going on a run, playing fetch in the backyard, or coming along and doing one of your favorite hobbies together. Anything that’s going to let them burn some energy while engaging with you is just going to deepen your bond together.

Terrain D.O.G.

Having a dog takes time and work. Like any relationship, the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. The more we can engage with our dog and provide physical and mental activity, the more likely we’ll have a happy dog, a good dog, and a dog that loves being with us.

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