Exercise as Magic, Part 2- Working with Danny
In our last post, we introduced you to Danny and Angel, two foster dogs who we recently met through our volunteer exercise and weight control service that we provide to local dog rescues. Today’s focus is on Danny, the high-energy puppy-ish lab mix who is somewhat hard to handle.
Danny is a handsome dog with a lot of energy. He acts like a puppy, even though his age is estimated to be at or over 1 year. Danny exhibits several common behaviors that we see in puppies and other dogs that have not been taught/trained including:
- he jumps on people when he is excited
- he barks when he is excited
- he pulls on his leash- he had no idea how to properly distance himself from his handler
Does this all mean that Danny is not an adoptable dog? Absolutely not. He simply needs time and someone to teach him the proper way to behave.
Although I have had a lot of experience with dogs and have worked with several dog trainers over the years, I am not a professional dog trainer. As such, my contribution to Danny’s rehabilitation is less about teaching him how to behave and all about providing him with adequate and intense exercise which in my experience will lead to improved behavior. As I have learned from first hand experience (see- SlimDoggy inspiration Jack), a well exercised dog is a well behaved dog.
Thus far, Danny and I have been on a total of 3 runs, each of about 25 minutes and 3 miles in distance (calorie alert- the SlimDoggy app estimated that Danny burned about 180 calories during his runs with me) and his behavior has improved markedly. First of all, he is already learning about proper distancing when on leash. During our first run he pulled and swerved for almost 80% of the time before finally getting in step with me. During our last run, he pulled only in the very beginning and when he saw a crow on the ground ahead of us. He ran virtually in lockstep with me and if you didn’t know, you would have thought he and I were long-time companions!
His behavior at home also improved. When we got home the after our initial run, Danny laid right down in the hall and there was no barking, no pulling, and no jumping. Even better, his improvement actually lasted through the next day. Here is a picture of the email that Carol sent me the next day.
After a total of 3 runs, I can tell that Danny is on the right track. Yes, he needs some training, but it is obvious that his lack of exercise is a major cause of his behavioral issues. Not only does Danny need the exercise, he, like humans and other dogs, actually feel better after intense exercise sessions. We talked about this phenomenon in an earlier post which you can read here.
In our next post of this series, we will focus on Angel, the sweet albeit chubby 8 year old black lab foster and discuss her feeding profile that we generated on her behalf.