You read it all the time on rescue group descriptions and facebook blurbs on dogs trying to find a new home:
"Dog requires active family"....
"Large backyard is a must"...
"High energy, hour a day walks minimum"...
It seems we are inundated by trainers and rescues reminding us that we must meet a dog's physical needs, but what continuously seems to be overlooked is the need to stimulate a dog mentally.
So much emphasis is placed on the dog's physical needs, but the dog's inherent need for mental stimulation is completely overlooked by pet dog owners and undermined by professionals.
The solution given to deal with a wildly out of control dog seems to always be the same; walk them more or run the heck out of them.
Unfortunately, this does absolutely nothing to address the main issue at hand. The dog has never been educated correctly using methods that work and the dog is not having it's mental needs met. In fact, exercising your dog at the level required to tire them out does nothing more than create an athlete.
So now we have a wildly out of control dog, who is also an Olympian. Great!
I wonder why our shelters are stacked to the brim with dogs in need of a home? Let's be honest. No one enjoys an out of control, hyper active dog that doesn't listen and engages in rude, offensive and embarrassing behaviors. But the solution is not exercising them more. The solution is training them more by using proper methods that teach calm, reliable and lasting obedience.
There seems to be little to no emphasis being placed on the fact that dogs actually need to receive education in order to function in our society. Our dogs are starving for their mental requirements to be met, yet so many seem to put no thought into training their dogs each day.
I often wonder what would happen if instead of having volunteers walking dogs at shelters, we took one of those designated walk times per day and actually focused on a Real-World training program, teaching the dogs to hold a sit, walk calmly on a leash and build impulse control?
My guess is that if we focused less on physical exercise and more on exercising our dog's minds, we would have more dogs being adopted from shelters and far less dogs ending up in shelters in the first place.
By simply teaching your dog to hold a sit for 10 minutes a day and walk correctly on a leash, focusing on the task at hand rather than the environment, you can transform your dog's life and behavior.
Do dogs need physical exercise?
Do dogs need mental exercise more?
Yes. The importance of which should never be overlooked or underestimated.
Exercising your dog is something that should be done for the fun and love of it. It should not be something that has to be done in order for you to be able to live in harmony with your dog.
Meagan is the founder and owner of Mayrich Kennels Inc. and is one of the leading dog trainers working in behavior modification, today. With over 12 years of professional experience in this area specifically, she has spent her entire lifetime and professional career working with aggressive dogs and dogs with severe behavioral issues. This work has led to the development of the widely successful programs offered at Mayrich Kennels Inc.