7 activities for a mindful dog

Author picture Katy

Is your dog a tad hyperactive? Has he become disobedient, disinterested or even stressed? Perhaps he’s bored or unable to satisfy his natural instincts? It’s important that your dog is physically and mentally challenged on a regular basis. The activities below are guaranteed to leave your four-legged friend thoroughly tired and content. They’ll also increase the bond between you and your dog, and you’ll become a more 'mindful' dog owner or dog sitter in the process.

1. Long walks

A lengthy, one to two-hour walk helps your dog to fully unwind. All that sniffing, running, play and exploration enables him to discharge his energy. Try to take your dog for at least one off-leash walk per day, and give him the freedom to do his own thing. Note: it’s important that you’re mindful too! So, forget about work, leave that smartphone at home, and go enjoy some well-earned down-time with your dog :-)

2. Cycling

In contrast to short, quick bursts of energy, pedal power can make your dog considerably calmer. Running next to your bike prevents your budding athlete from going full sprint and forces him to trot leisurely alongside you. Done correctly, it’s considerably less taxing on his muscles than fetching a ball or rowdy play. Never begin with a long cycling expedition, and build up your forays on two wheels gradually. Read our Cycling with your Dog checklist.

3. Scootering, skating of skateboarding

Scootering or skating is an excellent endurance sport that combines exercise and relaxation, and is great fun for you and your dog. The important thing here is to allow your dog to get used to your chosen 'mode of transport'. If he no longer barks at or appears frightened of your scooter, roller skates or skateboard, then it’s time to hit the road. Always adopt a comfortable pace and, again, build up distances slowly.

4. Swimming

Does your dog adore getting his paws wet? Repeatedly throwing a ball into the water for your faithful friend to retrieve might keep him entertained, but this type of exercise actively boosts adrenaline levels and can prove too intense for some dogs. Swimming, on the other hand, is extremely relaxing and produces truly ‘zen’ results. Encourage your dog to swim next to you and motivate him to keep going by praising him profusely for his efforts. Note: never swim too far out into open water, and make sure that you can both get out of the water quickly if required.

5. Chewing

Dogs that are suffering from stress invariably find something to chew on. Such as your furniture or shoes. This behaviour isn’t as strange as it might seem: chewing for prolonged periods is actually extremely relaxing and fulfilling for dogs. So, treat your canine companion to some quality ‘me’ time and simultaneously protect your favourite slippers by giving him a daily chew stick. Bully sticks, raw dried meat, deer antlers and the raw bones of small animals (chicken carcasses, duck necks, chicken wings, rabbit carcasses etc.) are the most suitable alternatives to your sofa. Never supply weight-bearing or recreational bones (such as leg, shank or knee bones) from large grazing animals, as these are too hard for your dog's teeth.

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Chewing actively lowers your dog’s stress levels

6. Scent-tracking

>Scent-tracking is guaranteed to transform a 'standard' walk into a ‘pet’ activity from which your dog will derive a tremendous amount of satisfaction. It demands extremely high levels of concentration and commitment, and really puts your dog to work. Scent-tracking essentially involves your dog placing his nose to the ground and then picking up on and following a scent trail. Most dogs absolutely love it!

here are two scent-tracking methods. The first is to wind a complicated route through the woods and encourage your dog to come find you. If he’s a novice Sherlock Holmes, then bring someone along with you. That way, you can stay with your dog and point him in the right direction, whilst your partner in crime goes into hiding. The other method is to use a tracing product, such as blood from your local butcher. Either method is guaranteed to awaken your dog’s natural tracking instincts and he’ll especially savour that tasty reward (or the joy of finding you) at the end!

7. Massage 

A massage is as relaxing for your dog as it is for you, and he’ll certainly appreciate it every bit as much. Start by gently stroking your pampered pooch until he’s nice and calm. Then lightly massage under his ears and around his neck, before proceeding to the shoulders, back, chest and legs. Only continue if your dog is visibly at ease. Read more about how to massage a dog.

Tip: Are you a dog sitter? Why not offer the above activities as part of your dog walking or doggy day care services? You can add information about these services and your related experience to your profile. This type of additional extra can be the deciding factor in booking your pet sitting service!