Puppy Forum and Dog Forums banner

A Simple Experiment

948 Views 8 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  StardustInVegas
This was a particularly rough time for me at work, and I wound up working 12-15 hours/day at the office this week. I booked extra sessions with the dog walker, and had friends come in to take the dog out, but instead of her normal workout (a brisk 30 minute walk in the morning, and 60-90 minutes of fetch/free play at the park in the evening), she would get maybe one cumulative hour of leisurely walks each day.

The result? She was fine on Monday & Tuesday, mildly hyperactive Wednesday and Thursday, and a total basket case on Friday. Besides the noticeable change in temperament, I attempted to hold to the same training routine throughout the week (usually three ten minute sessions per night). She was thoroughly untrainable on Friday - she couldn't hold still, didn't pay attention, and was non-responsive towards commands she used to be able to do in her sleep.

Today, we got up at 6:30 this morning, went on a 2-mile walk before spending another 2 hours at the dog park, walked the entire 5.5 mile round trip to/from obedience school, rested up, and spent another half hour playing fetch in the park before rain forced us home. She's now asleep, but she's back to being her old self again.

The lesson: exercise matters. A LOT. She's really not even a high-energy dog, but she still needs a 90 minute, moderate-intensity workout each day just to function. I can't even imagine what it's like to live with a bored Lab or Border Collie.
1 - 9 of 9 Posts
When I was in college, my parents adopted a lab puppy for my brother (who was 2-3 years old at the time). They had this brilliant idea that the dog would live in the backyard, they'd feed it on a regular basis and my brother could play with the dog periodically. Needless to say this dog dug up the backyard and chewed on everything he didn't dig up. So they chained him up. The dog got tangled up in his chain on a daily basis and my parents had the brilliant idea of giving me the responsibility of getting him untangled every day. I hated that dog with a passion very quickly. I had to take him off the chain to untangle him and he would run as fast as he could in circles around the yard. He had no recall and was far faster than I was.

I knew absolutely nothing about dogs at that time and didn't want responsibility for the dog in the first place. That dog needed a good 5 mile run, not a walk.
I have had a few that were super high energy dogs but right now, My 2 are pretty easy going. I am glad I don't have to come up with extra creative ideas of how to burn off steam anymore.
When my lab was about 12 years old, I make the mistake of assuming he didn't need those 6-mile walks any longer, especially in the dead of winter.

He was okay for about a week of reduced exercise, but then it started to affect his sleep, his appetite (a lab who doesn't inhale his dinner is worrisome) and, eventually, MY sleep.

The morning I experienced The Epiphany happened to be a sunny, mild Sunday with plenty of fresh snow. I took Cubby a few blocks to a field and hill where local kids went sledding. We were very early, and there weren't any kids yet, so I took off his leash and let him tear up and down the steep hill in the deep snow. It was a gorgeous sight. He reminded me of films I've seen of Siberian tigers in deep snow.

I never again underestimated his exercise requirements. A week before we had him put down at age 14, he was fetching dummies in Lake Michigan.
When my Golden was 8-9 months old, my knee started to give me real trouble. We did less and less until the ice and snow of winter kept us mostly housebound. I put off going to the doctor too long. After the surgery, I had a good couple of months of recoop/rehab. It got to the point where I had to have relay stations of anchored leads where I could keep him clipped to one until I clipped him to the next. That was the only way I could take him out to poop.

Prior to my hobbling, we had accomplished some good training. By the time I could get around again, I had a complete outlaw on my hands. To make a bad situation worse, the opioid pain killers I was taking have the odd side effect of making me really impatient and grouchy. Most people just stare and grin like a fool, but I get super irritable.

It was a dramatic illustration of exactly how to turn a smart, temperamentally sound pup into a cauldron of behavior problems.
That's pretty interesting - do dogs just "store up" energy that has to get out some kind of way - or is it just they like (or need) to be a little tired or do some kind of activity to "feel right" inside?
Truly, I don't think dogs are all that different from humans in that respect.

When I was a kid, and went to a school a bit over a mile from home, I broke my leg and had a walking caste for some time. I was, of course, excused from gym class and, instead of riding my bike or walking to school, I took the school bus.

After a week-or-so of this, I found I had trouble sleeping at night. A little light went on in my head (probably only 15 watt) and I started asking the bus driver drop me off a few blocks from home. I gradually increased the distance until I had that bit of exercise I needed without hurting myself and starting sleeping soundly again.

Dogs may manifest insufficient exercise in various ways but you have to figure they sleep during most of their "off-hours" and need an outlet to avoid extreme boredom, restlessness and loss-of-appetite.

Unlike humans, they can't amuse themselves with television, reading or doing needlepoint.
RonE - that's an interesting thought. I know I get cranky when I can't exercise, but always assumed it was because of overwork (the reason I usually can't work out). I wonder if there are prisoner studies on this.

I must admit, I'm addicted to Dog Whisperer and It's Me or the Dog, and I can't help but notice how often the dogs' issues have their genesis in insufficient exercise. What amazes me is how many people continue to appear on both shows without realizing this. I mean, really? Have they never seen the show before? Do they think their under-exercised dogs are different from the twelve dozen other under-exercised dogs that preceded them?
I love the "experiment". My 5 month old puppy gets a bit hyperactive during the mornings and early afternoons. Occasionally at night.

I allow her to decide whether she wants to go for a walk or not. I do not want to drag her on the leash as she's still a little bit afraid of cars going by and other dogs barking. She does occasionally take me down the block, but that's pretty much as far as she would go. Good thing that she's a smallish dog, so she can run around the house if she wants.

About a month ago, I started taking her to the Dog Park about 3 times a week. two weeks ago, I haven't taken her to the Dog park in a week (due to overwhelming projects and school schedule, I couldn't take her). Guess what - she had 4 accidents in one day...which she NEVER did that much. She was driving me up the wall, driving my cats up the wall. I've tried giving her treats, chew toys, etc. She doesn't want them. The next day, I took her to the dog park, everything was fine. So, I made it a point to take to the the dog park at LEAST 3 times a week. She's much more mellow now.

Dogs are SO different from cats. :-D
See less See more
1 - 9 of 9 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.