Exercising a Puppy
December 14, 2003 5:37 PM   Subscribe

Exercise for a psychotic puppy (more inside)

I have a wonderful, adorable 4 year old brittany. I also have Jack, a 1 year old terror. He needs more exercise than I am currently giving him, which is limited to a 2-mile run each day. He's not great on a leash at the moment, although we're working on it, and there aren't any off-leash parks around. Any ideas for wearing him out a little more?
posted by LittleMissCranky to Pets & Animals (10 answers total)
This may sound silly but I think you should work on his leash work and other training. You'll reap as much benefit from exercising his brain as his body. Jack's are smart dogs. I can't say for sure without knowing the dog, but it's possible he doesn't need to be kept busy because he has excess energy, but because he's bored out of his mind.

Then, of course, once he's leash trained and has a good recall, you'll be able to reap the benefits of fetch and other offleash activities without worrying about him being a terror. I suggest you investigate Clicker Training, starting with these three books.
posted by dobbs at 6:50 PM on December 14, 2003

Lots of different things you can do to keep Jack busy. First, if he's not neutered, start there. At that age, those hormones'll be pumping.

Second, get the brain busy. Mental exertion is as wearing as physical for them, too. A bit of obedience (this is a great book: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0312616910/ ), some fun tricks, doesn't matter what he's learning as long as he's learning something. You'll be surprised how fast he'll get tired with a couple of 10-20 minute learning sessions each day.

Puzzles are good ... get the body and mind going together. Playing hide-and-seek has always been a popular one with my gang: You hide, he seeks, it's hysterical to hide in plain sight because it takes most dogs a while to learn to look places where they're not used to seeing you (under the kitchen table, etc.). Get a kids wading pool, fill it with clean sand, and bury little dog biscuits in it. Use some imagination and make up games. Dogs have a great sense of humor and love this sort of stuff.

Tracking is also excellent ... I believe Patty touches on the basics to get started in that book. Much lower-key for you while his mind and body are engaged.

Get involved with your local dog club ... find one that is doing flyball, agility, and lure coursing. Great fun for both of you.
posted by NsJen at 6:54 PM on December 14, 2003

I'm confused. What kind of dog is Jack? Is a terror anything like a terrier? And dobbs, if I name my dog Jack, will that make him smarter? Because I've tried everything else...
posted by trharlan at 6:54 PM on December 14, 2003

trharlan's right ... I read that as terrier too. What kind of dog is Jack?
posted by NsJen at 6:56 PM on December 14, 2003

He's another brittany. Thanks for the ideas, everyone -- keep them coming!
posted by LittleMissCranky at 7:09 PM on December 14, 2003

What does "not great on a leash" mean? Polite, loose-lead walking can be trained in a very short time if you do it right (if the dog's been allowed to pull, it takes longer). I use the "red light/green light" method - if the dog pulls, we stop, as soon as he stops pulling, I praise and we move on, if you are 100% consistent with this, it will work, but if you've been allowing him to pull, it may take some time. The only way to tire him out is to give him more exercise, both mental and physical - training can do both (get into agility classes or flyball), and as a clicker trainer myself, I heartily second dobbs' recommendations. Rapid-fire fetch is good (with two items, you throw one as he's bringing the other back) as well. But really, "not great on a leash" simply isn't an excuse for not giving a dog adequate exercise, sorry, the way you get him good on a leash is by getting out there with a fair, reasonable plan and implementing it. If Jack is good with other dogs, can you find someone with a friendly dog and a fenced yard and arrange play dates (few things tire a dog out more than playing with another dog). Brittanys are active dogs, how is it that the other Brittany gets enough exercise but Jack doesn't? Also, I assume you're not overfeeding him, right?
posted by biscotti at 7:15 PM on December 14, 2003

More info: Jack is neutered and he is very smart for a brittany. We feed him with a buster cube and stuff kongs for him a couple of times a week. We do clicker train, and he's coming along. His in-the-house reliability is very good, but he has a much tougher time outside of our house or yard. I have a hard time being the most interesting thing around, even with a good supply of high-value treats.

On preview: what I mean by "not great on a leash" is that it takes a considerable amount of effort from both of us to maintain a reasonably loose leash, which is why we're a little limited to our 2 miles. We are working on it, but I'm looking for a few stop-gap methods to make up some of the difference.

My other brittany does very well with our 2 miles and backyard excercise and play with Jack, but then, she's a little older. Jack tires her out long before he's ready to come in.

Actually, I think that I am overfeeding a little, since he's eating much more than the recommended amount of a high-calorie food. However, he's very, very underweight, so I'm hesitant to cut down on his food. The vet has cleared him healthwise, and says that I should continue his current feeding amount and that he will put on more weight as he gets older.
posted by LittleMissCranky at 7:20 PM on December 14, 2003

two words: doggy daycare or doggy playgroup
posted by zia at 7:29 PM on December 14, 2003

I assumed you meant Jack Russell Terrier. Everyone I know who has them calls them Jacks. Sorry about the confusion. :)

Though I agree with most everything NsJen said, I'll go against the grain and recommend you not check out that book. It was written almost 25 years ago and is severely out of date on its methods (though the author has bounds of enthusiasm).

And dobbs, if I name my dog Jack, will that make him smarter? Because I've tried everything else...

No offence, tharlan, but it's a rare occurence when I meet a dog that's not smart. Usually it's just the trainer's inability to understand the way that their particular dog learns. What training methods have you tried?

When I first got my dog, we went to tons of different obedience classes/trainers and nothing seemed to be sinking in. I was determined not to have a stupid dog so I bought every damn book on training I could find and worked daily with my dog, one on one. Once I had the "Aha!" moment--my clicking with how he learns--it's been smooth sailing. He's smart as a whip!

I have a hard time being the most interesting thing around, even with a good supply of high-value treats.

Some dogs don't do well with food incentives. If your dog is big on sticks, balls, frozen face cloths, whatever it may be, train with that. My dog is trained with treats indoors and a Fetch and Flash ball outdoors. Once you've found the thing your dog freaks over, only use it for training (don't leave it lying around where he can get at it/get bored with it).

Actually, I think that I am overfeeding a little, since he's eating much more than the recommended amount of a high-calorie food.

Have you tried switching to a different food? You might want to try a BARF diet or an organic food? Prior to eating these foods, my dog ate far more than the recommended amount and could not maintain a proper weight (fluctuated greatly week to week). Once I switched, things evened out.
posted by dobbs at 8:10 PM on December 14, 2003

We do doggy daycare on the days when we're going to be working very late. That seems to help. The doggies also appreciate the hot dog lunch too.

If you dog is WAY energetic, and you have time time, you might want to think about something like obedience classes (regular or advanced), a tricks class, or flyball.
posted by answergrape at 8:15 PM on December 14, 2003

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