Vetinfo.com has published an article pronouncing the benefits of exercise for your dog. It’s definitely worth a read. As always, we’re here to help you give your “difficult” dog the workouts, and experiences they need.This excerpt is taken from the article “The Benefits Of Dog Exercise”. Check it out.
Minimize Unwanted Dog Behavior
Dogs like to chew and dig. Most of the times, they do these activities out of boredom and because they have plenty of energy to spend. If you focus your dog’s energy towards exercise, he will no longer chew or dig. Make sure the activities you offer are challenging so that your dog doesn’t get bored. A dog that performs daily exercise will bark less and will not be hyperactive.
Build Up Confidence
As with humans, regular exercise will improve your dog’s confidence and reduce his anxiety. If you have a shy dog, you can help him by offering the right amount of exercise every day. He will start being more outgoing and happy.
How Much Exercise Is Enough?
The amount of exercise a dog needs varies according to the size and the breed of the dog.
Larger breeds need a lot of motion-at least 40 minutes of moderate to intensive cardio a day (though you shouldn’t push an old-aged or overweight dog beyond his limits). Walking is healthy, but larger dogs also need some more alert movement.
Tell you the truth, I’ve had mixed feelings about weight pull for a long time. Until recently.
When I was a kid, weight pulls were basically just legal venues for all the guys that fought dogs to gather publicly and check out everyone’s competition. Kind of a meathead gathering of guys living vicariously through their dogs. I was turned off by weight pull around the same time I began railing against dog fighting. So for about the 25 years I kind of disregarded it.
Until recently. I was re-exposed to weight pull in the spring of 2012. And you know what….. It was cool. The tough guy wannabe’s were noticeably absent. People were very friendly. Not a dog fighting supporter in the bunch.
That was when I was able to look at the sport with an open mind.
And what I found was, one of the most awesome training modalities ever!
Weight pull takes a dog/handler team that is in perfect sync. It totally appeals to the coach in me! You have to know your dogs mindset perfectly. You have to be able to tell when they’re into it and when they’re flagging. You have to push them, without it ever becoming a bad experience. You have to spend time in training, developing in them the DESIRE to pull FOR YOU.
That’s the cool part, I think. In competitions (and for most in training), you can’t use anything except praise to motivate your dog. Think about that. Not a toy. Not a hot dog. Not cause you’re yelling and they are scared not to pull. They have to pull this absurd weight…… Just to get to you for a hug.
Wow. The first time I saw it, I almost cried. You can really see the true nature of the love, and determination in a handler/dog relationship when that cart gets heavy. It really is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen done with a dog.
Aside from the relationship building aspects of weight pulling, there are a ton of reasons to do it. It’s a tremendous workout. It’s like Powerlifting for your dog. VERY TIRING! It’s also very environmentally challenging for some dogs. Huge harnesses. Sleds, carts, and drag weight clanging around behind you. Not to mention spectators and so forth if you compete.
As I say with most of these sports, if you want to do them with your dog…… Find a trainer and jump in.
If you don’t have the ability to do it with them, call us! We’ll be your dogs very own weightlifting coach.
We’ve called it all kinds of names. Canine Parkour. Urban Agility. Doggy Obstacle courses.
But honestly, when we’re talking amongst ourselves we call them trust obstacles. Cause that’s what they are. Your dog develops confidence with environmental stuff, and confidence in you. It’s a huge relationship builder.
Now with all exercise therapies, the depth of the work depends on how hard it is for your dog. So, if your dog is bomb-proof and nothing scares it, then this activity would just be a fun way to play. But for some dogs, it can be REALLY, REALLY hard. Psychologically I mean. They have to trust you enough to do the obstacle, even though it’s a weird-looking thing that they never traversed before. That’s tough for a fearful dog. It takes a lot of trust! And develops a lot of confidence! And, for environmentally shaky dogs, this can be absolutely life altering.
The sport of attaching a sled harness to your dog and then attaching it to you……. With no sled.
Then, you run. And try not to fall. It’s AWESOME!
Actually, there’s more to it than that.
To do it on your own is pretty easy. Get a quality harness/line/belt. We use Nooksack Racing gear.
Most dogs naturally pull, so that usually isn’t a problem. Dogs tend to follow a trail, so that usually works out well.
But for it to be a more fun experience for you, and more of “work” experience for them, a few commands are good to have.
Minimums (I find):
– A go command (even though they tend to pull naturally, there are times when they will decide they’d rather not. For this to be a work exercise, they need to go regardless!)
– A stop command (As in, if you stop to tie your shoe you don’t have to tether yourself to a tree)
– A leave it command (As in they “tend” to follow a trail, but it’s surprising how brave little forest creatures get when they see a dog pulling. A sudden left turn into a heavily wooded area as they chase a squirrel can just ruin the experience.)
Nice but not necessary:
– Left/right turn (when trails split this is really nice)
– Heel (depending on the gnarliness of the trail, it’s nice to be able to say walk behind me over this slick wobbly bridge!)
In Competitions people like to have these:
– A tolerance for other dogs. There are going to be a lot of them and they will be AMPED!!! you have to make sure that your dog is either OK with that, or you have bombproof management techniques in your toolbox. Cause you WILL need them. Just because people have taught their dogs to pull doesn’t necessarily mean they have taught them manners!
– About left/right (as in a u-turn one way or the other)
– Over left/right (as in which side of the trail to be on. Useful for passing)
Of course the die-hard “Mushers” (what pulling enthusiasts usually call themselves) do it in a foreign language. But I don’t really care about that.
How to get these skills, you ask?
Yeah that’s the problem.
We read about it, and thought it was awesome sounding. So, we of course asked every trainer we could find for help. No one teaches it. Weird. So we just taught ourselves. And started with the minimums. Not bad.
Then we finally found a Musher willing to help us. And that’s when we found out the secret. You hitch your dog to a team of trained dogs. They are literally attached. You say right, the team pulls them right. Eventually, the team isn’t pulling them, cause they know what right means.
Sweet. If your dog’s not reactive/aggressive.
What about…. You know….. Us?
Well, I can tell you how we do it.
Getting a dog through the minimums isn’t hard. Acclimate them to the equipment. Be consistent with your stop and go commands. Pretty simple. Leave it I do “off-line” first. Then once they have it, they’ll have it on a trail too. So far so good.
The more complex stuff?
Heel you teach off-line, and interrupt your runs with them enough that you have them when you need them. No biggie. So far it’s just like the doggie friendly types.
Left/right turns. That’s where it gets different. If you don’t have a team of dogs to teach your dogs with, you need people.
Here’s one way to try. It’s essentially like teaching recall. You get a fork in a trail and put a person on each side You pick a side, and run up to the fork and say “right” (or whatever you want it to be) the corresponding person then bait’s the dog. After a bunch of successful reps, do the other side. Then it’s the choice factor. As you approach you say one or the other and the correct person baits. Then reduce the baiting until they are dead still and the dog chooses correctly, cause he understands. Then back them further up the trail until eventually they are out of sight, and the dog is being rewarded way after the fork. Then you have a dog that knows the turns, and it didn’t take a dog team to do it.
The tolerance of other dogs…. Or how to manage an aggressive dog in a huge crowd of AMPED dogs?
Whew…. That’s for another time. That’s its own can of worms!
I will leave you with these pics.
(first two pics above are of Mabel. Highly dog aggressive, and people reactive, in the biggest CanX race in the state. And the last one is of Bella, who is VERY environmentally challenged, in the same race! If we can do it with them, your dog is NO PROBLEM)
And if those pics of happy dogs and people aren’t enough to make you want your pooch involved with this…… Then I don’t know how you call yourself a dog person!
Want them in it, but don’t want the headache, or physically can’t give them this gift….. Call us. We’ll run em for you!
I LOVE her material! I know there a lot of DINOS out there. 2 of our 5 are! So her concepts really resonate with us.
Check out her site. Support her movement. People out there with DINOS need to know they’re not alone. And they shouldn’t be made to feel bad for their dogs preferences. It is NUTS, the kind if response you get when you ask people not to pet your dog. They get downright angry sometimes. Her site has a ton of resources, and awesome gear to empower you, and educate others.
Our queen DINOS: Mabel
Mabel was really bad with strangers. Even as a young dog. It was weird. I had never had a Bully that was bad with people. I didn’t know what to do. So…. I did everything wrong.
I felt really strange telling people not to mess with her, which happened often because she’s cursed with unbearable cuteness. Because I wouldn’t say anything, they would approach. Of course, they would do it in a way a dog would consider rude. Mabel show a ton of signs of not digging it, that I hoped they wouldn’t see, cause I was embarrassed. Then, when all of this culminated in an unwanted handling, Mabel would “communicate”. Of course, I would correct her. And, that sucks for a number of reasons.
1. Correcting a dog in drive takes bigger corrections to get through. And I hate that.
2. Constantly getting corrected every time someone touches her, gives her MORE reason to dislike/distrust people.
3. Me ignoring the signs of discomfort she was offering on the approach, made her feel like she had to handle it on her own. This makes her lose faith in my ability to protect her, and tells her she needs to protect herself. Which then puts a huge tailspin on pack structure in the house, and leads to all sorts of behavior problems.
It really is ridiculous how easy it is to fix.
“Hey! Don’t touch my dog.” That’s it.
I began to pay attention to my dog. I realized those signals of discomfort were her asking me for help. So I did.
I would have people stop approaching when I realized she was getting uncomfortable. And at the beginning, that was about 20 yards.
But you know what….. After a while she had faith in me. That I would protect her. And, they would have to get a lot closer to shake her faith. I then earned more trust at that distance. And closer and closer.
And now I can put Mabel in a down and people can literally step over her and she doesn’t care.
Why? Cause I have earned her absolute trust.
She KNOWS, beyond all doubt, that I WILL NOT LET THEM TOUCH HER!
She has learned that I will pay attention to her, and I will protect her. So she finally can relax, and not be the Sheriff.
The DINOS gear makes it way easier to get this across to people. And, the cuteness softens the blow a little. So, owning a DINOS myself, I fully recommend their merchandise.
If you have a DINOS….. keep us in mind. We specialize in them! We prefer them! Our services were designed with them (you) in mind!
I’m actually not being cliche. Science suggests this is an actual question now!
The common theory is that we humans saw these canines scavenging around the outskirts of our fire eating the bones that we were tossing over our shoulder. We noticed this and used our immense intelligence to “train and domesticate” them.
Well, a scientist has recently done a paper suggesting that it was far more of a co-evolution. As in, we both learned symbiotically from each other at first. Clearly our intelligence let us eventually manipulate ourselves into the prime position with dogs, but I think the first part of our relationship was much more partnership oriented.
This is the abstract for the paper:
Dogs and wolves are part of the rich palette of predators and scavengers that co-evolved with herding ungulates about 10 Ma BP (million years before present). During the Ice Age, the gray wolf, Canis lu- pus, became the top predator of Eurasia. Able to keep pace with herds of migratory ungulates wolves be- came the first mammalian “pastoralists”.
Apes evolved as a small cluster of inconspicuous tree- dwelling and fruit-eating primates. Our own species separated from chimpanzee-like ancestors in Africa around 6 Ma BP and– apparently in the wider context of the global climate changes of the Ice Age–walked as true humans (Homo erectus) into the open savanna. Thus an agile tree climber transformed into a swift, cursorial running ape, with the potential for adopting the migratory life style that had become essential for the inhabitants of the savanna and steppe. In the absence of fruit trees, early humans turned into omnivorous gatherers and scavengers. They moved into the steppe of Eurasia and became skilled hunters. Sometime during the last Ice Age, our ancestors teamed up with pastoralist wolves. First, presumably, some humans adopted the wolves’ life style as herd followers and herders of reindeer and other hoofed animals. Wolves and humans had found their match. We propose that first contacts between wolves and humans were truly mutual, and that the subsequent changes in both wolves and humans are understood best as co-evolution.
Very interesting. The paper (coevolution03) is long, and, of course, “sciencey”. But, if you can deal with reading things like that you should check it out. There are some very cool concepts in it that may change your view on our relationships with dogs.
Definitely changes the human centric view that we in our superiority, rescued the dog from its unfortunate wildness.
At Three Bad Bullies, we don’t deal exclusively with Pit Bulls or their derivatives. But, we are certainly HUGE advocates seeing as how almost all the dogs in are personal pack are Bulls!!! And while we work with ALL breeds, we spend a fair amount of energy trying to change public opinion on these often misunderstood dogs.
The one thing we hear over and over again is:
“You can’t override the dogs breeding! They were bred to fight/bite and that’s what they will do no matter what, it’s in their genes.”
If the fact that the dog was bred to fight is what caused the attack, how do you explain dog attacks from non fighting breeds? Ah….. There can be several causes, and you have just selected this one because it suits your fancy. Your logic is flawed. You suck. Learn to debate properly and try again later.
2. I agree with you.
100’s of years of genetic programming is almost impossible to override. Sure, in some limited cases the dogs can be born with NONE of the traits of the breed…. but it’s sheer silliness to assume that they are all like that. And yeah, in SOME extreme cases a dog that does have the typical traits can be TRAINED/MADE to behave differently….. But really, do most people that own these dogs really do that? Yeah I don’t think so either. So….. why do I think Pits are safe and you don’t? Well, you see, it’s because I’m not ignorant. And I don’t mean that in an inflammatory way. I mean I actually know what I’m talking about, and you are lacking all the facts. You see the statement “These dogs are bred to bite/fight” is accurate, but incomplete. It should say “these dogs were bred to bite/fight OTHER DOGS, and NEVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES PEOPLE”. Hmmm, that’s a little different, isn’t it.
Let me say now that I am VIOLENTLY opposed to dog fighting. But, I grew up around it (this is why I’m such an activist now). I will use my unfortunate upbringing to shine some light on the selective pressures that actually shaped the breed. Here are some of the reasons why people aggressive pits were not tolerated.
1. Dog fights are illegal events attended by unsavory types, clearly willing to break the law. This means “rule” infractions, are not petitioned to a commission. Things are dealt with quick and harsh.
2. Before a fight, The opposing handlers wash each others dogs. This makes sure there is nothing weird in the coat that would affect the fight, it also lets them know that they will be safe in the Pit with the others dog. If a dog bites one of the opposing handlers, it will most likely get shot, and the handler will forfeit the fight and all the money.
3. In the pit during the fight, there are three people; each dogs handler, and a “ref”. If a dog “turns” (shies away), or are fanged (tooth hung up and cannot re-grip), they dogs are separated. This is not done with verbal commands, they are physically separated. Which means everyones hand in between these two dogs…. And again, if a dog bites any body. Dog’s goes down, you lose all your money.
4. And ALL of this bite inhibition before the fight is displayed in a place that not just sounds and smells like dogs fighting. But, is filled with tense, ill behaved, aggressive people. Imagine the vibe and the dog is expected to bite NO ONE! Then, even during a fight that could be life or death the dog is expected to bite NO PEOPLE, EVER!
So yeah, you’re right you can’t override genetics. The dogs were for hundreds of years designed to be non threatening to humans even under the worst of conditions. And guess what, they aren’t. They are great around kids because they were bred TO NOT BITE PEOPLE, to posses a crazy high pain tolerance, and have no fear. All of which means that they don’t bite when a kid pokes them in they eye, or steps on their tail, or makes some dumb ass noise that would scare a poodle. For Pete’s sake many experienced guard dog trainers actively recommend not using Pits as guard dogs because it’s not in their nature to be “man biters”.
I know, there are a lot of Pit Bull “type” dogs in the news attacking people. But you know what, It’s humans beings fault. Not the dog. These dogs you hear about are bred ON PURPOSE to deviate from the people loving nature of the real Pit Bull. Or, they are neglected and abused to the point where they are mentally unsound and become dangerous. But it’s our fault, not theirs. They are not that way normally.
Yes, Pits are naturally aggressive with other dogs, and you have to be lucky, or a very good trainer to have that not be the case. If you have a Bully, you may be in for lifelong Dog Aggression Management (Check out our links). But aggressive to people….. Nope. Goes against every fiber in their being.
So please, continue to say that their genetics determine their behavior, and it’s almost impossible to get it out of them. You prove my side of the argument every time you do. You’re just too ignorant to realize it.
There is a “Biologically Appropriate” amount of exercise that all animals need to achieve optimal physical and mental health. No animal can reach their full potential without it. Dogs are no different. The problem is, in balancing a dog’s need for exercise with a dog’s need for structure. To rehabilitate a dog, they need to have extremely tight structure for a period of time. In order to meet the dogs exercise requirements without ruining their structure, owners have to spend a lot of time doing it….. Or hire us!
Problem is….. Most people’s idea of exercise is just to get them tired. Dog parks, run in the yard, endless fields of toys….. Sound familiar? And you know what….. It works. They get really tired. And no better. Not really.
Look, I realize that there are a lot of dogs out there that don’t really have inherent “issues”. They are just lacking the biologically appropriate activity level that they need. Up their exercise, and their “issues” go away. But, honestly, that’s not the case most of the time. I found out the hard way.
One of the dogs that we named this venture after, Mabel, was a nightmare no matter how many toys she had access to in the huge yard she had.
So what were we doing wrong?
Well, for starters, we weren’t doing any obedience. And that is a huge part of the puzzle. Now, there’s a ton of people who can help with that part so I won’t focus on it.
For something to be Exercise “Therapy” it has to be WORK not play. Most dogs are quite challenged by a treadmill. So, the treadmill is a great way to work them.
Leash obedience can be great exercise is a great way for both you and your dog to work! That means attention training, not slack walking. This is mental work, that happens to be physically challenging too. For you it’s walking or even jogging! For them it’s attention training. You walk, jog, start, stop, change directions. It’s interval running! As long as you keep them engaged, but not too excited, it’s still work!
The other way to work them at this level are what we call trust obstacles. That’s essentially finding obstacles that are mentally challenging for them. This develops leadership, and happens to be, basically, agility work for your dog, and you!
Sounds easy enough.
Or you can play Tug. The right way…. You know…… the way that establishes correct pack structure, and creates a great obedience reward.
Well, here’s the downside. It takes your creativity, dedication, patience, and many times physical endurance. Because it’s work for them, it’s not a mindless activity for you either. And, that’s what people really want. They want a “fix” not a plan! They want to take the dog to the park and let them play while they text. Or they want to go for their own jog for x amount of time/distance and not be bothered with all the starting and stopping, direction changes, or worse, the triggers they run in to! They just want to go for a walk/run damn it.
Well. If you have all the tools, knowledge, patience, and time to give your dog these things, then good on you!
But for the rest of the world…..
Check our services page, set up a consultation, and lets see how we can help you fulfill your dog!
Your partners in dealing with your difficult, hyper, or aggressive dogs.