Tossing your dog out alone in a fenced in backyard, or even with another dog, is not mentally stimulating, nor is it exercising your dog! Actually, it could even be making behavior problems multiply. Dogs with behavioral problems are not happy dogs! Their inappropriate behavior is their cry for attention and help.

It is a fact; most excessive barking, chewing, jumping, digging and running away behavioral problems are caused by boredom and pent up energy. It’s like living with a time bomb! You never know when it will go off…or how much damage it will do.

Dogs need stimulation, both physically and mentally. If left unexercised and unchallenged, they will resort to finding creative and usually destructive and/or dangerous ways of getting into trouble. Even worse, they can develop behavioral issues, which can be quite expensive to modify.

To successfully accomplish your goal of changing your dog’s inappropriate behavior and having a happier dog, the first thing you must do is make a commitment to them. You must promise to provide your pet daily, with enough structured exercise and mental stimulation, so as to take the edge off their boredom and pent up energy.

Depending on the energy level of your dog, it may require at least 2 hours per day of hard exercise. That can include a long walk/run and perhaps some dog park time for more exercise and socialization. Dog parks are a great place for not only your dog to make new friends, you will too!

Simply walking your dog daily can mentally stimulate them. New smells, sounds, sights, people and other dogs all help to break the mundane monotony of their life. Keep them guessing. Try walking in new places now and then. Explore together.

How about an agility or rally class? If you want your dog to get plenty of exercise, mental stimulation and socialization in an interesting and challenging manner, those are two excellent options.

Is your dog home alone all day? Try a doggie daycare, even if it’s for only a day or two a week. Odds are you will be bringing home a very worn-out dog those nights. A tired dog is a good dog!

Training! Dogs are a work in progress. The most well trained dogs on the planet are the ones that are continuously trained and retrained to keep them sharp. If you think because you took a Puppy Kindergarten or Basic Obedience course years ago will keep your dog on the mark…guess again. Dogs need to be worked every day! Spend 10 minutes at least two-three times per day, working your dog on obedience commands. There is no question; you will see a change in their behavior. Turn it into a game…make it fun. They will love the interaction with you.

If you lack the self-discipline to set up your own program, sign up with a local trainer that applies positive reinforcement, punishment-free methods of training. Again, great exercise for you and your dog. Plenty of mental stimulation, challenges and socialization all wrapped up in an hour! Most give enough homework to keep you and your dog busy until the next class. Group classes are an incredibly inexpensive way to achieve your goal.

Bottom line: Before you give up, commit to it for two weeks. Walk your dog for at least 30-45 minutes twice a day. Properly exercise your dog by interacting with them. Socialize your pet at a dog park or doggie daycare. Spend time with your dog working obedience skills. The plus sides of all this are: not only will you see a change in their behavior; you will also be reinforcing the bond between you. The results will astound you!