So physical exercise like walks and hiking are AWESOME for your dog! But let's be honest. We don't have 2-3 hours every day to march around the neighborhood with our dogs. No one enjoys taking a revved up dog for a 1-2 hour walk (or drag in most cases. Which is why you should always play or train your dog BEFORE a walk.) So learn to use your time wisely!
Mental exercise is just as important as physical exercise for a balanced dog. If you took 15 minutes in the morning, 15 at lunch, 15 when you get home, and 15 in the evening you would give your dog a full hour of mental exercise. If you were to combine this with ever other day walks you would have one happy dog.
So what the heck is mental exercise for a dog anyways? Well this can run a gamut of things from tricks, treibball, rally, rally free, musical freestyle (heelwork to music), and agility. All of these things help your dog learn new things and save you from marathon walks every day. If you aren't sure where to start when it comes to these sports, take a class! Or challenge yourself to teach a new trick to your dog every week. YouTube is always a great source of inspiration! Take the music video below, there are a ton of different tricks to teach.
Some food for thought about the video above...it took them SEVENTY TWO takes to get this one. So when you start looking for perfection and instant success, just remember that it all takes time, ok? Patience, persistence, and partying are the keys to fun trick sessions!
A great book to start with is 101 Dog Tricks by Kyra Sundance. She also has a Trick Dog Title Program. Another great trick title option is offered by Paws and People. Check out both of these great programs to teach your dog something new! You'll be amazed at how quickly 15 minutes of trick work tires out an active mind.