Help for the Hyper, High-Energy Dog


There's a prevailing theory that the more energy your dog has, the more exercise he needs to keep from going crazy and destroying your home. It’s the idea that a tired dog is a good dog.

To a certain extent, this is true, but to a greater extent it's not.

Here's what actually happens. Let's say Joe is the proud owner of Flash, a Border Collie--a breed typically labeled "high energy.” Joe works a 9-5 job so Flash is usually home alone for 9-10 hours a day. To help Flash cope with Joe's schedule, he runs her five miles every morning and then plays fetch for 30 minutes every evening. He thinks, "this poor dog just has to lie around all day while I'm gone. I need to make up for that when I am home." 
Here's the problem with the 'tired dog is a good dog' approach: dogs build up endurance just like we do. If she used to be tuckered out with a five mile run, eventually she's going to need six miles and then seven and then eight and before you know it, she won't be able to relax until she's had her daily 30 mile run. It completely snowballs out of control and Joe winds up with an Olympian he can't possibly keep up with even if he had all the time in the world.

Physical exercise cannot be the only tactic for calming hyper dogs because they will need ever increasing amounts to create the same exhaustion. (Not to mention the fact that it might actually be making the problem worse if the hyper dog is also out of control on walks, at the park, etc.)

Rather than bulking up on gym time, hyper dogs need a *little* more physical activity and a LOT more mental activity. Going to the gym and writing term papers both tire you out—they just do it in different ways.

What are doggy term papers? Brain games and training. (This is ideal for our blazing hot central Texas summers too, when walking hours are severely limited!)

  • Tricks; Emily Larlham (aka kikopup) on YouTube has lots of fun tutorials featuring her "high energy" Border Collies.

  • Nosework; if you're local, check out the Nosework class at Austin Canine Central. Using his nose is exhausting for your dog and also has a calming affect!

  • Shaping; this is a training technique similar to the Hot and Cold Game we humans play. It takes lots of doggy brain power and can be used to train any number of skills or tricks.

  • General enrichment. The Canine Enrichment group on Facebook is positively overflowing with ideas to spice up your pup's life!