Dear Miss Behavin’: We have a young pointer mix who is super energetic. He gets at least an hour long walk daily but it never seems to be enough- he is constantly bouncing off the walls! What else can we do to manage his excitement?
A young excitable dog like yours, particularly a sporting breed, may need more exercise and stimulation than the average dog. Even an hour long walk may not satisfy his need to stretch his legs and run. Get him moving in your backyard if you have one by playing fetch or tossing treats and having him sniff them out. Running to sniff out treats checks a couple of boxes: physical exercise and mental stimulation. Scent work for dogs comes naturally and is surprisingly tiring, plus it can also be practiced indoors.
Another exercise option if you don’t have a yard is going for a hike with a longline (or very long leash). This is a great way to supplement regular walks. Longlines are available from 10 to 50 feet and allow your dog run ahead of you on a hike without being off leash.
For more mental stimulation, set aside some time throughout the week to work on training. Improve the obedience cues he already knows by making them more difficult. If you normally practice training in the house or yard, practice throughout your walks in different parts of your neighborhood or while on your hikes.
On your hikes with your longline is a great opportunity to practice “Stays” at a distance in a novel environment. Don’t forget the scent work can also be practiced anywhere, so while out and about, toss a treat into the grass or dirt and tell your dog to “find it!” The combination of added physical exercise with more mental exercise should help him relax more easily when you need him to.
Sara Werning is the coordinator for the Behavior and Training Department at Peninsula Humane Society& SPCA. For more information, please call 650-340-7022 ext. 316 or email email@example.com.