Solve Your Dog’s Behavior Problem With One Easy Step

We see dogs with a variety of behavior problems:

  • Anxiety
  • Aggression
  • Barking
  • Destructive Behavior

and many more.

All of these problems require different approaches, and every dog requires his or her own unique set of steps to achieve a solution.

But there is one thing that almost all of our cases have in common:


Many of the dogs we see are under exercised. Others dogs get a lot of one kind of exercise but not enough of another.

One of the first steps we always take to approaching any behavior problem is to increase the exercise and to balance the KINDS of exercise the dog is getting.

We often find that many times, this in itself is the most effective step towards solving the problem. Quite frequently, this is the ONLY necessary step.

Is your dog getting enough of the right kinds of exercise?

When people think about exercising their dog, they usually think about walking him. But exercising a dog takes more than a long walk. defines exercise in the following ways:


[ek-ser-sahyz] noun

  1. bodily or mental exertion, especially for the sake of training or improvement of health: Walking is good exercise.
  2. something done or performed as a means of practice or training: exercises for the piano.
  3. a putting into action, use, operation, or effect: the exercise of caution.

So when we talk about exercising your dog, we mean more than a simple walk. We think about giving the dog physical and mental exertion, putting things into practice or training, and putting the dog into use.

There are three kinds of exercise to give your dog:

Physical Exertion

Dogs love to run. They love to jump on and over things, to wrestle, and chase. All of this taps into their basest instincts to hunt and kill their prey.

Your dog enjoys his walk for the chance to stretch his legs, lift his leg, and check his pee mail from the other local dogs. But none of that really touches his need to just run.

Dogs need physical exercise which is exciting enough to get their heart rate well above resting rate. What’s more, they need this every day, especially when they are under the age of three or four.

How Much Do They Need?

The amount of daily exercise needed varies widely between dogs, depending on age, breed, and individual temperament. The average dog needs a minimum of 30-60 minutes of high-heart rate activity a day. Younger dogs and high energy breeds may need 2-4 hours of exercise a day.

If They Don’t Get It:

Dogs who aren’t physically worn out by the end of the day tend to channel their energies into other outlets, such as barking, chewing, jumping up on people, or sometimes even self-destructive behavior.

Mental Exertion

The average dog lives an astoundingly boring life. He can’t read, he doesn’t watch TV, and he almost never gets a chance to check Facebook.

Once upon a time, dogs spent their days hunting or guarding the farm, or at the very least following their owners around on their daily outings.

Nowadays, unfortunately, the family dog spends most of the day sleeping or following family members from room to room, waiting for something interesting to happen.

Dogs need to use their brains. They need puzzles to work out. And the great thing is that thinking is really challenging for them. Fifteen minutes of really hard mental work tires a dog out really well.

Trick training and food puzzles are two good ways to tap into this need in your dog, but there are many ways to provide your dog with challenging mental activity.

How Much Do They Need?

Some dogs are smarter than others, and smart dogs need more mental stimulation than less intelligent dogs. In general, a border collie or poodle will need a lot more daily challenges than a bull dog or Afghan hound. A minimum of 10-15 minutes of mental challenge is a good basis for any dog of any age. Really intelligent dogs may need an hour or more of hard thinking every day.

If They Don’t Get It:

Dogs who don’t feel challenged tend to make their own challenges. They assign themselves their own missions, such as barking at every bird who flies by, systematically removing all of the baseboards in the house, or breaking into the garbage no matter how carefully you try to lock it away.

Emotional Exertion

Any parent knows how much difficulty young children have in handling negative emotions. A tiny disappointment can result in a full-scale meltdown. Unable to control their own emotions, or inhibit their own impulses, toddlers are volatile and often difficult people to live with.

A dog who has not learned self-control is like a toddler, prone to tantrums and unable to restrain herself when presented with temptation.

In order to grow-up emotionally, a dog needs to exercise his own emotional responses. Obedience training and exercises like “Leave It” help to build and work your dog’s emotional self-control.

How Much Do They Need?

You should be asking your dog to restrain himself at least two to three times a day, every day. You should also vary the kind of self-restrain involved – asking your dog to hold a stay command, ignore food placed on his paws, waiting at the threshold of a doorway, and so on. The more difficulty your dog has with this kind of exercise, the more of it she should be getting every day.

If They Don’t Get It:

Dogs who aren’t regularly asked to control their emotions and restrain themselves in tempting situations tend to exhibit a lot of impulsive behavior – pulling on the leash, dashing through doorways, jumping up, and snatching food, to name a few. They also tend to react very negatively to being thwarted, by barking, lunging, or physically struggling.

What Can I Do About It?

So, now you know that your dog needs physical, mental, and emotional exercise. But how can you give it to him? You work hard and you come home tired. Where are you supposed to find the time to tire your dog out, as well?

Good news. Wag The Dog provides a simple solution to the frustrated dog owners out there:

Wag The Dog can help you teach your dog self-control and discover mentally stimulating activities that will lead to a calmer, happier, better behaved dog.

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-Carol Millman B.Sc., RAHT