sleep is essential to a calm, healthy, patient dog. if it’s true that a tired dog is a good dog, then a sleeping dog is even better! by providing your dog with appropriate activities to use up some of her energy and then supporting healthy sleep habits, you will lower incidents of bad behavior and increase your dog’s quality of life.
the first step is to give your dog ways to expend some of their energy, and this can be either physical or mental, or both. in fact, mental stimulation will tire your dog out faster than any physical exercise, but their body needs the activity as well so be sure to include a mix of both in your weekly schedule. the four basic categories of activity include:
games – think fetch, hide and seek, tug of war and chase. these are all interactive and highly physical. this means your dog is getting a double dose of activity – thinking and acting. the key is to find a game your dog loves and you enjoy playing as well.
exercise – any time your dog has the opportunity to go for a walk, a hike or a run, she is using her brain along with her body. new sights, sounds and smells provide great mental stimulation while her body gets a much-needed workout.
puzzles – whether you buy a treat puzzle from the store or create a puzzling game on your own, your dog will love using her problem solving skills to get what she wants. never ones to like things handed to them on silver platters – or in silver bowls for that matter – dogs love a good challenge. and when the end result is their favorite treat or a delicious meal it makes the game all the better.
training – both basic training and trick training help your dog use her brain and quickly tire her out. it takes a lot of thinking, remembering, problem solving and judgment, so be sure to keep it a positive experience and keep the sessions short – think 10 minutes. and only use positive reinforcement. think of it like this: your dog doesn’t speak English, so saying it louder or scarier won’t help at all.
so now your pup is exhausted and ready to rest. how can you make the environment as peaceful as possible?
location – create a space for her that’s out of the main room, away from foot traffic and in a quieter part of the house. even if she doesn’t nap there all the time, having the option to escape for a small amount of time from the sounds of the household can provide the opportunity for longer naps.
bedding – the right bedding can make all the difference. warm, clean beds that smell like the person they love can reduce anxiety and increase relaxation. just think of it as a huge pile of laundry fresh out of the dryer – who can resist that?
sleep is part of a healthy life, so be sure to join your pup during nap time every once in a while!