All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Most of us know of this expression, heard it in passing, or even used it. Bare-boned, the expression simply means that, without time for fun, not only are you going to be a bore to others, but you’ll also be a bore to yourself. This is true for our pets, as well. Especially for dogs.
Dogs are known for misbehaving when they’re bored. In their defense, though, they don’t usually know that they are misbehaving. They just start doing things and exploring things to entertain themselves, when they aren’t otherwise occupied by us. To us humans, this entertainment can look like anything from getting into the trash, to chewing apart those really nice new throw pillows, to going in off-limits space, to . . . well you get the point.
Like I said, to us this can be deeply frustrating, but a leading reason for why dogs get into these sorts of “destructive” behaviors is boredom. It’s similar to habits we may pick up when we get bored. However, a simple solution to remedy this is playtime.
In another article, we talked about doing cardio workouts (running, walking, and hiking) with our dogs. Something as effortless as a walk could keep dogs better behaved. For more information on cardio with dogs check out this article, here! Essentially it’s active engagements with your dogs keep them entertained enough that they don’t have time or energy for more mischievous forms of self-entertainment.
This brings up another question, though. Is too much of a good thing actually bad for our dogs’ health? This article is geared towards looking into some of the downsides of over-exerting your dogs.
As with all things dog related, there isn’t much consensus on the topic. There is a lot of variablity to consider: breed, size, age, etc. One thing that vets do agree on, however, is that, while exercise and playtime are crucial to a dog’s mental, physical, and overall wellbeing, too much may be harmful in the long run (no pun intended).
There is not a lot of research on this topic at the moment, which, in turn, has lead to the uncertainty. With that being said, there are some pointers that can help shed light on the topic. For example, breed and dog size are really important things to consider. Bigger dogs typically have more energy but they also have weaker joints; so, while prolonged walks or catch sessions can channel that extra energy, too much playtime can cause future harm. On the other hand, smaller dogs have spurts of energy; so, playing sporadically with them during those times may be optimal.
Try to keep consistency in your playtimes with your dog and make sure there’s plenty of time throughout the day for resting and naps. Signs of over stimulation probably won’t show at first but the typical signs to look for are lack of energy, soreness, and loss of appetite.
Play time is, for sure, very important but so is rest time. With the lack of research in the field giving definite numbers is near impossible. The key is balance. At the end of the day, if you’re still unsure, discuss with your vet what’s in your pet’s best interest.