Exercise usually does a dog good, but there are times when too much exercise and activity cna actually be counter productive. Read on for a client case study.
"How much exercise does your dog get?"
My client responded, “Amber goes to daycare 2 times a week, she spends one day with my parents, and she gets two dog walks twice a week. I also take her to the beach or dog park at least one day if not both days on the weekends.”
“That might be too much exercise and might be causing the aggression”, I said.
“Really?, I thought the more exercise a dog gets the more tired and less reactive they are.”
I deal with all kinds of behavior problems from basic puppy issues, to separation anxiety, barking, destruction, aggression, and general training issues like teaching sit and stay. Usually I recommend that my client provide more physical and mental exercise to their dog to alleviate their behavior issues. In most cases my suggestion works when used in combination with management strategies to ensure that the problem does not get worse.
This case involved resource guarding and body sensitivity issues. Amber would stiffen when anyone walked by her when she was chewing on a bone or a rawhide and actually chase the person away. This is uncommon and more serious than a dog that simply growls when a person walks by. Taking steps after someone indicates a high level of anxiety and aggression.
In our initial interview I commented about the exercise. My client took note of it and also mentioned that Amber will sometimes walk away from my client’s mother whom has a tendency to “be a bit too attentive to Amber” as described by my client.
Basically what was happening with Amber is that she had no down time. She was not able to spend as much time alone as she needed and was over-stimulated with all of the activity.
At my urging, my client lowered her daycare to one day a week, asked the dog walker to come only once a day instead of two and gently told her mother to give Amber a bit more space when she was with her.
What happened? The problems went away. My client mentioned that Amber seemed to be more relaxed, less tense and “acted like the little angel that she was when she was a puppy”.
This case is unusual. Normally over-exercise is not a problem, however too much daycare or other activities can contribute to behavior problems.
Dogs need rest.