Having a high energy dog can be so much fun, especially if you’re an active person looking for an adventure buddy.
However, life doesn’t always move as fast as our canine companions would like.
If you got your dog as a puppy, you also might not have known what their energy levels would be like until after they grew up.
Understanding how to meet your high energy dog’s needs is essential to helping them thrive.
So, we’ve compiled 7 tips to help you help your pup get the most out of their day.
1 Give Them Structure
In the dog training world, people talk about structure a lot. However, they don’t always explain what structure truly means.
Many would assume it means having a daily schedule, but it’s so much more than that.
When we talk about structure, we’re talking about boundaries and expectations.
Giving your dog structure means giving them guidelines for what to expect, what to do, and when to expect and do it.
This teaches them how to self regulate when times get tough.
It also shows them the best way they can get their energy out, and the most appropriate times to do it.
As much as we’d like to believe we can give our pets the same schedule every day without any unexpected things, life doesn’t really work like that!
Giving your dog structure can be difficult though, and there are a few things to consider when making a plan to do this.
2 Understand How Dogs Work
Understanding how dogs work as a species will not only help you give your dog structure, but will also help you help them expend energy the way they need to.
Dogs, like cats, deer, and many other animals are crepuscular.
This means that they are most active around the hours after dawn and before dusk.
In the morning’s and evenings, your pup’s body is telling them to be active, to go look for food, find water, or find a place to sleep.
Playing with your dog and giving them exercise during these times lets them live like dogs are meant to live.
However, domestic dogs don’t have to go out and hunt their food like their wild ancestors.
Consequently, these biological impulses may be more or less present depending on the dog.
3 Understand Your Dog’s Unique Needs
Learning what dogs as a species need can only get you so far. You need to think about your dog as an individual too.
While breed plays less of a factor than many people believe, it is still something to strongly consider.
Was your dog bred to herd, hunt, or protect, or were they bred for less strenuous activities?
If your dog’s breed has historically been used for more active pursuits, your dog will most likely need a higher level of activity.
Additionally, their play styles may differ. While not all labs may enjoy retrieving, many do because they were bred to!
If your dog is a mixed breed, buy a dog DNA test for them.
Not only will this give you some fun facts, but it will also give you crucial information such as what they may like to do, what they were bred to do, and even certain health concerns to watch out for.
You can take all of this information and use it to help your dog get the most out of their activities.
4 Make Mealtime Fun
Making mealtime more fun is one of the best and easiest ways to enrich your high energy dog’s life.
Remember, your dog is most active (and most hungry) during the morning and evening.
Consequently, this is one of the best ways to satisfy your dog’s biological needs for activity and nutrition all at once.
While eating food out of an open bowl may be easy, it doesn’t engage your dog’s brain in the way that they were hard wired to be engaged.
Try using a snuffle mat to turn a boring meal into an exciting adventure for your dog with hardly any added effort on your part.
You can bring it up a notch and put their food in a puzzle brick, or make them a scavenger hunt!
Lastly, you can even use a meal as a time to train.
Instead of giving them their food all at once, give it to them in small handfuls as rewards for training.
By giving them something to accomplish in order to eat, you’re helping them feel more fulfilled.
You can even put all of this together by feeding them all or a portion of their meal while on a walk, motivating them with their food to complete different tasks.
5 Make Walks More Engaging
Many people believe that the longer the walk the better, and that’s all you really need to know.
However, this couldn’t be further from the truth!
A 20 minute walk with more engaging activities can be much more effective and enriching for your dog than an hour of just walking.
Get yourself a treat pouch and hit the sidewalk!
Bring along a variety of high and low value treats and work with your dog on their training while walking.
Toss a handful of treats or kibble into a grassy patch and have your dog sniff around for the food.
Just make sure there isn’t anything around that you don’t want your dog to accidentally eat!
If there are any steps or ledges around, have your dog go up and down them using the treats to build their confidence.
If you’re not already noticing the trend, the key is to engage both their body and their mind!
6 High Intensity Play
You should also be mentally engaging your dog while you play with them.
If your dog likes running after balls, teach them to play fetch.
Tug of war with a rope toy is also always a fun one.
If your dog has a high prey drive, a flirt pole is an amazing tool.
With all of these things, you should be giving your dog a fun but challenging task to complete while you play.
Structure is still important here.
Your dog should have boundaries for play—teach them when it’s okay to go all out, and when they need to calm themselves down.
If you can get your dog to use their brain while they play, they will tire out much faster and be able to truly relax once they’re done.
7 Kick Back and Relax
When all is said and done, your high energy dog also could use some help learning to relax.
It might seem counterintuitive, but you should structure time into your dog’s day to rest.
Oftentimes, high energy dogs struggle to allow themselves to sleep or rest, similar to how a baby or toddler needs to be put down in order to actually go to sleep.
Get your pup a nice bed, turn on a white noise machine, and encourage them to lay down and rest during their natural resting times, like mid day and after the sun sets.
You can structure rest into your dog’s life by pairing it with high activity.
When you get back from a walk, let them have some water, and put them in their crate to indicate that it’s time to rest.
Alternatively, after a hard play session, encourage them to lay down in their bed using treats.
We all need our rest, even our high energy dogs!