In my late teens through young adulthood Cesar Millan (The Dog Whisperer) was in his prime. I thought he was the most amazing dog behavioralist and purchased all of his books and TV series I could find. I studied his teachings, and while these days I can say there is some I agree with and some I do not, there is one fundamental thing I learned from him that I still strongly believe and practice today. Exercise is the foundation of, and one of the single most important factors, in dog behavior. Dogs are not meant for these sedentary lives we provide them, the majority need far more exercise than the daily leashed walk through the neighborhood (some not even getting this). While every breed, and each individual within the breed, have varying exercise needs, the goal of the owner should always be to first understand their own dogs needs, and then to strive to meet it. Many behavior problems are not truly behavior problems, but a lack of proper exercise showing up in disruptive ways. If you are meeting your dogs exercise needs and tiring them out daily, many behavior problems will solve themselves. However, this is not meant to speak on all dog breeds, but American Bullies, specifically the XL variety. This is a little tricky since there is SO much inconsistency and diversity in this new breed and the dogs can vary greatly in energy levels and drive. This is where knowing and understanding your dog and your dog's bloodlines is so important. Generally, these dogs are more moderate on energy level and low/moderate on drive, but there are plenty that are high energy, high drive, as well! There is a large discrepancy in this category even in my own dogs and I have to make sure I am setting each one up for success. I have one dog who would be completely content with a 30 minute off leash jog or play at a park.... and I also have a dog who will climb mountains all day and still come home ready to take on anything. When my dog with the higher energy and drive is not getting adequate exercise, it shows in her behavior! She is a wonderful dog and amazing companion, as long as I am first giving her a proper outlet for her pent up energy. You will also notice far better results in training sessions when your dog has first had the chance to release energy. Imagine you have a 5 year old child who has been all cooped up and is bouncing off the walls and you want them to sit still so you can lecture or teach them something. Are they more likely to be able to sit and tune into what you are teaching and respond appropriately before or after the opportunity to expend all that energy? A dog is the same way! Finally, having a backyard is not a replacement for walks and other exercise. Regardless of your yard, they still need to be taken out, just the same. The more off leash opportunities you can find for them to run, the better! So while there is no simply one size fits all answer here, the goal should be to provide enough exercise for your furry family member to come home and sleep it off for most of the day, free of any destructive behaviors.
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