2) Have a set routine for walks and exercise. One of the biggest mistakes that owners make is taking a Boxer out once he shows signs of needing to get outside. If you're sitting on the couch, binge watching Games of Thrones and after 3 shows you realize that your Boxer is acting hyper (he really doesn't have much interest in whether or not Daenerys will ever actually get Drogon under control) and then you say, "Oh, my Boxer could probably use a walk", it's often too late. At that point, the walk will only help a Boxer release the frustration that built up as opposed to the walk being an outlet for a normal level of activity requirements. He will be a bit calmer, but not as calm as he would be had you taken him out in advance of the building agitation.
So, the best thing that you can do is to set up a schedule of when you'll engage with your Boxer dog and really try to not miss any sessions or delay them. If there are others in the house, this can be split up between those who are going to be involved with caring for the puppy or dog.
There are 3 activities that you'll want to do on a regular basis:
The importance of these are often understated. It may seem as if your Boxer is just ambling along, perhaps even just going along for your sake but this is not true at all. The Boxer is a strong breed that was built for action; he needs to work his muscles and experience the liberty of movement. Super young pups should have all puppy shots before being taken out. For most Boxers, regardless of age, two walks per day are best. The daily amount should 45 minutes for pup and 1 hour for those 1 year and older. These can be broken up in any way that suits your own schedule and time availability. For example, with a goal of 60 minutes, you can do 30/30, 40/20 or even 20/20/20 if that's what works for you.
Just a 15 minute bout of high intensity action such as Frisbee or fetch once per day can make a huge difference in a Boxer's demeanor, keeping much more calm and happy when he is back in the house. Some owners mistake a Boxer's indifference at seeing a Frisbee as not wanting to engage. However, it is often the level of enthusiasm that an owner displays that will directly impact a Boxer's desire to run. Most love to run and stretching and working the muscles in this way is a great method to keep a Boxer dog in good shape. That hyper and restless activity that you witness when a Boxer is in the house can be channeled into a short session of action that leaves the dog satisfied and both physically and mentally ABLE to be calm.
We going to dive into this a bit more ahead, however taking 15 to 20 minutes a day to work on commands has a triple benefit:
1. You work toward having a well-trained dog which in and of itself is a huge plus.
2. It helps a Boxer learn self-control. Focusing on learning to sit, come or go down on command requires focus… and a big part of this is the action = reward sequence. When a dog discovers the element of focus and purposely learning, he is then able to self-regulate and this itself can help the dog calm himself down.
3. It helps to establish hierarchy, with you as the clear leader. For any dog to behave well, this is a must.
3) Provide mental stimulation.
While it is true that Boxers will be much calmer if they have a physical outlet, stimulating the mind plays a huge role as well. Very detailed studies have proven that canines in general have the emotional capacity of 3 year old humans. This is quite telling. Do you have kids? Or have ever spent even an hour with a toddler? They are super hyper, highly inquisitive and importantly are never happy just 'being' for long periods of time. Dogs are the same. Boxers can become hyper if they have nothing to focus on. Just left to 'be', they can get bored and have trouble knowing what to do, so they run around… they quite literally can end up bouncing off the walls in an overly hyper state with no real tools to calm themselves down.
Now, if you take that same hyper Boxer dog and he is taken out for walks twice per day, plays one-on-one with his owner once a day AND is given indoor task that require him to use his canine senses, he'll be a much happier and calmer dog. The mention of canine senses is rather vital here…. Dogs have urges to use their sense of smell… to sniff… to explore with their noses…. It's the way it has been for thousands of years and it's a canine urge that is not going to go away no matter how pampered or spoiled a life a dog lives. So dogs have this innate craving to sniff after scents that builds up each day if not allowed to really use this, it can cause a dog to become frustrated.
So, an indoor game that involves a Boxer using his sense of smell along with a task that requires focus is often an integral part of preventing hyper behavior and giving a dog a feeling of accomplishment that can work with the other elements to keep him calm.
You might be thinking that you'll have to invest in some sort of intricate canine version of Sudoku. Not at all. This is as easy as hiding some treats in the house and encouraging your Boxer dog to find them. As with cardio mentioned earlier, the energy level and enthusiasm of the owner plays a huge part in how eager a Boxer will be to follow through. Speak with in an animated voice and encourage your dog to seek out the hidden treats. Start with easy to find hiding places and then work up to much more difficult sessions. Once a dog learns that it's time to play the game, he often will not give up and will search until he finds his treasure. Advanced sessions can include having the reward be deep in a cardboard box under layers of old towels and safe odds-and-ends and be sure that the treat itself has a strong scent; a good choice is a strip of bacon (grease blotted out) because most dogs won't bother to move much for a food that they will receive at any rate.
Be sure to use a command word such as 'Find' or 'Go Get' and a word to end the session such as 'Good, Find' or 'Good, Get' to establish when this begins and when this ends. You don't have to do this every day; 2 or 3 days a week is usually enough to make a Boxer dog happy and work in conjunction with the other methods to keep hyper behavior at bay and encourage a more calming atmosphere when you just want your dog to settle down.