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June 22, 2020
Denise Nuttall Animal Behaviourist and dog trainer highlights how the power of sleep can help reduce mischievous behavior in developing pups.
“Help! I am exercising my dog a lot, but he is still getting up to mischief!” Many clients contacting me for help with overly demanding adolescent dogs tell me that they are taking out their dog for long walks and runs several times a day. Many spend a great deal of time with a ball throwing device to tire out their dogs; yet still their dog is more demanding and getting into mischief when they are not being kept occupied.
What these clients are doing is turning their dogs into athletes; these athlete dogs now have even more energy to tire out their poor owners. More concerningly, excessive activities can be damaging to a dog’s joints, especially for young and developing dogs. Exercise is important, but in moderation.
Invariably, clients will say their dog never sleeps and they are exhausted trying to keep them occupied all day with a variety of activities, training and games. Tired dogs find it difficult to learn, can become stressed, irritable, overactive, barky and start jumping up and hard mouthing. Also, their bodies do not get a chance to grow and repair, which can affect their health.
What these dogs need is sleep. Young dogs need around 18 hours sleep in a 24-hour period. Lack of sleep can lead to over arousal, and this can, in turn, make it more difficult for dogs to settle and sleep.
Find a quiet place for your dog to settle where he will not be distracted. Make this a comfortable and safe place away from distractions. Let him get used to being in this space for short periods with something like a licky mat or stuffed Kong stuffed with Fish4Dogs mousses. The licking activity is soothing and relaxing and can make dogs sleepy. Practise this every 3 hours for an adolescent dog (every 1 ½ -2 hours for a puppy under 5 months old. Soothing classical music can also help them to settle and this can also make other, potentially distracting, environmental noises less noticeable for them.
Once you have managed to get your dog into a good sleep routine, with a balance of walking and brain games in moderation, you should see your dog start to relax. Having a dog should be enjoyable, but sometimes, we just try too hard.
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Great sleep and great nutrition go hand-in-hand. Puppies grow while they sleep and this is the time that adult dogs repair and rejuvenate. Give your pup a steady supply of the best nutritional building blocks so he or she can grow to their fullest potential.
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