Exercise isn’t the answer

I know that you have likely been told to exercise your dog more before you leave them, and I know that you have likely heard the phrase “a tired dog is a good dog”. 

There is some truth in both, but not when relating to separation anxiety. More exercise and exhaustion will not resolve a panic disorder. That would be like telling someone with an anxiety disorder to run a marathon before a public speaking event and that will solve the problem. You may feel too exhausted to feel nervous, but chances are, your nerves will remain intact; in fact your heart will probably still be pounding from the adrenaline, making your anxiety feel much worse. 

There is no need for your dog to be exhausted before you leave them, but it’s absolutely a good idea to ensure that your dog’s exercise needs are met appropriately. Most dogs need more than a few short leash walks around the neighbourhood every day. Safe, secure off-leash time is important for all dogs to get their beans out and do “dog stuff” like sniff, explore, play, run, roll, dig, you name it. Just 15min-20min of that is a great way to burn excess energy. 

If you can’t do that, consider other options like a hike with varying terrain, swimming, a jog, brain games, puzzles, and urban parkour. Whatever suits your dog best. 

One hour of fetch will be too much for any dog as it is high energy, high impact, and repetitive. Variety is the answer, while you avoid building your dog’s endurance, causing them to require more and more exercise before they can settle. Opt for intermittent high energy activities with lots of breaks to prevent over-stimulation or over-arousal. 

Brain games are extremely important – dogs are problem-solvers so enriching their world as we discussed in our last lesson is key, but also teaching them fun tricks and letting them explore new places on a regular basis – these are also great ways to keep their brain in tip-top shape!

Lessons in this Course: