Is Exercising Your Dog a Mistake? Let’s Settle This.

In this video, we discuss the controversial topic of whether it's bad to exercise high-energy dogs and address some common arguments presented by balanced dog trainers. We explore the belief that relying on exercise to manage a dog's mental and physical state can lead to an unsustainable situation and potential adverse effects on the dog's well-being. We also delve into the prevalent attitudes in certain dog training cultures that emphasize strict control over dogs and challenge the notion that dogs need to be strictly controlled to achieve calmness.

We advocate for a more compassionate and empathetic approach towards training, focusing on the importance of physical and mental stimulation for a dog's well-being. Exercise not only promotes the release of brain chemicals such as endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin, but it also contributes to a longer, healthier life by maintaining a healthy weight, strengthening bones, joints, and muscles, and reducing the risk of diseases and health problems.

Furthermore, we highlight the significance of exercise and play as bonding opportunities, creating a strong relationship between dogs and their owners that makes training and communication more effective. We acknowledge the individual differences in dogs, emphasizing the need for tailored exercise routines and the importance of providing physical and mental outlets for high-energy dogs to encourage natural behavior in acceptable ways.

While recognizing the need for moderation in exercise to prevent over-exercising and ensure adequate rest and recovery time, we also discuss the additional benefits of exercise, such as decreasing boredom and destructive behavior, building confidence, improving socialization, and enhancing mental and problem-solving skills. Join us in this informative and thought-provoking discussion to better understand the role of exercise in a dog's life and how it impacts their overall well-being and training success.

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0:00 I need to vent
0:19 The claim
0:35 How do you feel about this?
0:46 what rubs me wrong
1:11 thought experiment
1:22 you have 2 options
1:36 it's not just about tiring dogs out
1:58 why it matters for training
2:33 "R+ doesn't work with high drive dogs"
3:11 most important dog training theme of 2023
3:20 how much exercise is right?
3:42 Can you over-exercise a dog?
3:51 Hidden Benefits of Exercise!
4:20 Where do you fall on this spectrum?
4:27 Special discount link for Nom Nom!

30 Comments on “Is Exercising Your Dog a Mistake? Let’s Settle This.”

  1. I have a heeler. He seems so energetic at times. If I don’t exercise him, he seems like he will jump out of his skin. I play fetch and walk with him often so he can relax.

    1. I have a heeler/shiba mix and she’s the same way. If she doesn’t have that exercise, she’s going to find ways to get it out indoors 😂. It’s crucial so that she and I can have fun together and actually chill and relax together too.

  2. If anyone has questions or comments I will consider responding to the most voted up questions or comments in a future video if the topic seems interesting enough!

  3. We exercise our dog off leash. That way he can run just as much as he needs to, no more, no less. Wilderness areas, dog friendly parks and even sports fields at night when no one is around are great options. Maybe what we need are more large areas where dogs can run off lead.

  4. To anyone who doesn’t think their dog needs to be exercised, try this little experiment (one I’m being forced to do!!). Pretend that you did what I did–tripped and fell and hurt your knee and broke your big toe and you have to sit on the couch with your leg elevated (only time you can get up and move around is to go to the bathroom and you have to use a walker for that). See how soon it’s driving you crazy. I’ve been doing it for a week and I HATE IT. I can’t wait to be able to get up and move around and get some exercise. Two or three more weeks to go (assuming no surgery)! Just try it and see what it’s like for a dog that doesn’t get adequate exercise. Aside–go for an MRI on Wednesday morning and that will determine if I need another surgery on my knee. Fingers crossed I can do without (don’t want another surgery on my knee–one was enough).

  5. Chronic health issues have plagued me over the past few years, BUT my dogs’ energy has kept me going. If I have a rough day and can’t physically go for a walk or play soccer, I still make sure they have the opportunity to burn their energy. They have an obstacle course and play area in which they happily amuse themselves until tired. Play dates with other dogs are another great way for them to have a release without wearing me out. Sure, there’s days I absolutely do not want to do anything! But after even a 10-15 min play session, we ALL feel better, even if all I did was sit and throw a ball. 😂

  6. Love this channel. I have been training and working with dogs for 10 years. I have always gone with the breed and the specific temperament. Some dogs need to get out more energy. Some less. It’s always different from dog to dog. Can’t go wrong with three 20- minute walks per day along with some play time at home

  7. With my first dog I walked her 4 times per day, and almost every time we would play fetch. Because I lived in a small apartment I had to give her that exercise and time outside, not that I minded of course. We couldn’t play indoors, so I figured we’d play outdoors every time. She was a dream to raise, always off leash and in full command.

    With my second dog it’s a bit harder, because I’m busier than I was when I had my first one, and I still have my first one. I try to go to the woods so he can go off leash every other day but sometimes I can’t for several days. And after 3 days it’s really starting to show on regular walks. There’s a LOT of penned up energy, he’s trying to run to every next bush or tree he sees. A fit dog really doesn’t make your training harder; not exercising them does.

  8. I’ve never heard of the argument that exercising your dog is bad. Some dogs have boundless energy that they need to release and it would be pretty cruel to force them to keep it all in, especially if an owner’s excuse is “I just don’t feel like it”. From what I experienced, a tired dog is a happy dog because it eases the tension they might be having and a lot of dogs can get bored if they’re only cooped up. Plus, a change of scenery and getting to smell new scents while being outside can make their entire week.

  9. I watched a dog behaviourist here in the UK recently. They reckoned that every time your dog stops and sniffs at various points during a walk this is their equivalent of reading a newspaper and you shouldn’t keep hurrying them along. I like to walk my dog once a day and incorporate fetch and find games into the walk. I also never take her to the same place as the day before. Hiding favourite toys in the garden for her to find is also an activity she enjoys.

  10. I have a 5 year old basenji mix who I trained with Zak’s videos as a pup! he insists on a 1-2 hour walk/playtime, 7 days a week 😳 15 minutes 4 times a week would save me so much time 😂

  11. Yes to all of this!! My two-year-old doodle and I go for a walk in the mornings (5-6 days a week, 45-60 minutes). She really looks forward to it and spending time with me. And then she’s chill the rest of the day. Not overly tired, but not antsy and constantly interrupting me while I work. lol The other great thing is as a reactive dog (fear-based), she gets lots of opportunities to socialize and we work on counter-conditioning at the same time. So she gets to sniff to her heart’s content, learn that not everything is scary, spend time with me, challenge her brain, and get some exercise. She’s really become calmer around strangers and other dogs, happier overall, and as a bonus, I’ve lost weight!

  12. Could you do a video about how to choose a reputable breeder for people choosing to go that route to find their puppy or dog? When I was searching for my future puppy, I did a ton of research and thought I made a good choice with my breeder, but found out too late that I had been mislead about everything from the health testing they performed to the temperament of the parents and their lines. This resulted in a lot of unplanned money spent at the vet and on training to help him lead a happier and healthier life. I learned from local trainers who worked with dogs from the same breeder that a lot of their dogs had the same issues, with genetics playing such a strong role in their temperaments. I think the problem was that all of the advice I found was pretty generic (look for breeders who perform health testing, and matches you with a puppy that fits your lifestyle), but I did not know what it actually looked like for a breeder to follow those standards. Before I even contacted my breeder, I had been watching your videos to learn as much as a I could to prepare to train a future puppy, so I hope you feel like this information would be valuable to share and to be able to help educate future owners about this so they don’t end up inadvertently supporting a puppy mill/BYB like I did. Also hoping that with this info, people will be better prepared for the temperaments of the puppies and dogs they are bringing home, and not have to resort to using aversive tools to manage and train their genetically unstable dogs.

    1. These are things I look for in a breeder of purebred dogs
      – breeder is kennel club registered and puppies are registered. Note that this alone doesn’t ensure a breeder is reputable.
      – health testing relevant to breed. DNA testing (or clear by parentage) and other physical tests like ophthalmic exam, hip/elbow scoring, cardiac exam. Ask to see proof of all tests for both parents. Also quiz the breeder about the health of their lines as not all diseases have tests.
      – lifetime health guarantee against tested genetics disorders.
      – desexing contract/endorsed not to be bred from.
      – lifetime breeder support.
      – parents are from completely unrelated lines. Because I live in a small country I’ll only consider a puppy if one parent is imported from overseas.
      – ideally meet both parents and some other relatives. References from families with dogs from the breeder are also helpful.
      – multiple champions in pedigree. Dog shows are stressful and a dog who performs well in that environment will likely have a decent temperament. Other dog sports titles especially CGC can indicate a good temperament as well.
      – a breeder who loves their dogs and is passionate about the breed, not someone in it for the money and breeds as a side hustle. In my country ethically bred pedigree puppies often sell for similar prices as byb puppies, because the cost of breeding ethically bred puppies is so high good breeders actually make a much smaller profit.

      It may seem like an extensive list but I found multiple breeders I liked within a 6 hour drive radius of where I live, then you just have to pick one and claim your spot on the waitlist 🙂

    2. Agreed that a video like that would be super helpful, especially for people who don’t have friends or family who have the breed (iow no word of mouth recs). I went the reputable breeder route, too. She had great comments from people even on breed forums. Did a ton of research on her. She seemed really nice. She was happy to talk to me … until I emailed to tell her the preliminary hip X-rays showed problems. I wasn’t complaining; my dog was pet quality and even OFA good hips can throw bad. But this was a first-time breeding of the parents, and I thought she’d want to know. Crickets. She ignored every email after that.

    3. Yes I agree. More advice in this area would be great. I too can only find generic advice but don’t really know what to look for and don’t know anyone to ask for recommendation

  13. My dog is a podenco, a Spanish hunting dog, and he has at least an hours walk every day, and often 1 1/2-2 hours. He is on leash because his recall isn’t great if he sees something he wants. I asked a local dog trainer and he said my dog should be either in his crate or training – no play, no toys, no walks! Needless to say I haven’t done that. We love our walks together

  14. I’m more concerned with injury. Both my dogs (lab and golden retriever) love to fetch, but they run hard. And hit the brakes just as hard. So I’m always concerned with their safety. But a good fetch session poops them out and they seem calmer throughout the day

  15. I think it ultimately boils down to having your dog’s interest in mind. ‘A tired dog is a happy dog’ also gets used as an excuse to not provide mental stimulation. I only follow positive trainers and that’s only context in which I’ve heard people question the amount of exercise dogs need.

  16. We just got a lab mix puppy and we notice a huge difference between his temperament if he gets a 45 minute walk in the morning and when he doesn’t. We do however have trouble getting him to play with us which is the main way that I try to get his energy out during my workday. Any tips for a dog that doesn’t know how to play?

    1. I recently got a puppy. I’ve never had a puppy, always adopted adult dogs. Mine wasn’t all that interactive at first which also concerned me but now he loves to play fetch. Maybe it’s just their age? A baby doesn’t interact much at first and takes a while for them to pick up little games.

  17. My older Chihuahua/JRT mix says she agrees with the “no exercise” idea. The adult Yorkiepoo and the standard poodle puppy say the more exercise the better.

  18. It’s so important to get a dog that is suited to your lifestyle. It’s hard because we tend to go with our hearts when getting a dog and we don’t always think through the compatibility of lifestyles and the potential needs we both have that may not mesh. And if you do find that it’s difficult to keep up with your dog, it’s our responsibility to do right by the dog. If you have a very energetic dog who can play fetch all day and you can’t keep up, try channeling his energy into agility training wear his mind and body are engaged. Or possibly consider getting a dog walker to help work off some of the excess energy.

    1. it’s not the heart its conditioning. ppl dont question their beliefs….they get a Labrador coz they had one as a kid etc.. I have 5 breeds I really like, but I would only choose one or two of those ie I love airedales, but wouldnt get one when I had my rabbit because I wouldnt risk it. I went with another standard poodle and he’s amazing. he can do lots of exercise like hiking or not as much (ie just a nightly sniffer walk) with the help of training, dance etc.. he seems to know when to push me.. he will moan at me haha. “youre not that sick you did mopping!” luckily winter beckons so if I missed the morning walk and it’s cool I can take him close to midday and we will not overheat.

  19. The charity I’m hoping to get my Assistance Dog from (most likely a Labrador, Golden Retriever or a mix) lrequire me to devote a minimum amount of time each day to exercise and training. I’m quite relishing the prospect of devising ways to fit it into our day and make it fun. 😊

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