Congratulations on adopting your new family member! Your new dog is a dog that will need some additional time and thought put into their daily exercise and training routine due to his/her energy level. Below are some ways that can both keep your dog happy and healthy and help you to avoid behavioral problems that can arise from lack of mental and physical stimulation in high energy and working dogs.
Turning meal time into work time is a great way to give your dog a job to do and keep him well behaved and mentally fulfilled. So toss out that food bowl and start making your dog work for his food! Some great ways to start are:
- Instead of giving him a bowl, put his meal in a treat bag and spend 15-20 minutes having him do commands and tricks for his meal. This is an easy, quick way to turn meal time into work time. Start by working on things he already knows and build up to new tricks or commands. This not only meets the mental needs of your dog but also is a great way to teach manners, tricks, obedience commands and create a loving, trusting bond with your new family member.
- When you do not have time to work on tricks, feed him out of a puzzle toy such as the Kong Wobbler or the Tug-a-Jug Puzzle toys are a great way to make dogs use their bodies and brains to problem solve in a calm, constructive, productive manner. It not only keeps them busy for 20 minutes but also is fun for them!
The biggest misconception is that physically burning energy is the only way to calm high energy dogs down. In fact, training and mental stimulation can be even more tiring than physical activity. Imagine taking a difficult exam versus running laps around a building. Which do you feel more worn out after? Training is a great way to keep your dog both well-behaved and mentally fulfilled. Some great places to start are:
- Join a class! Training classes are a great way to both bond and build trust with your new dog. Regardless of how well or poorly behaved your dog is, there is a class out there for him that can keep his brain working and tire out his body. Check out HSHV’s dog training classes.
- Teach your dog to work for everything that he gets in his life. Whether it be pets, his meal or to go outside, request your dog give you something first (sit, down, stay, etc.). This is a great way to keep your dog working and active without having to use food as a motivator.
- Be sure not to reward behaviors that you don’t want to continue. Your high energy dog is very smart and will pick up quickly on things. If you open the door every time he barks obsessively at the birds, he’ll quickly learn to bark obsessively at the birds. Keep his mind working in more constructive ways by always rewarding behavior that you want to continue.
Getting your dog out and about is often very helpful in keeping them happy and well-socialized. It’s also a great way to burn off some energy. Some great places for dog-friendly dogs to burn off energy are:
- Dog Daycare: Taking your dog to daycare during the day, even once a week, is a great way to give him somewhere to get out all of his excess energy. Dog play time gives dogs an appropriate outlet for all of the energy they often bottle up while you are away and they are home alone.
- Play Dates: Finding people with other dog-friendly dogs in your neighborhood is a fun way to meet new people and burn off your dog’s excess energy.
- Training classes: Training classes are another great place to meet new dog friends and learn manners while you do it!
Getting your dog enough physical exercise is important. Walking or running your dog before you are gone for long periods is a great way to reduce separation anxiety, barking while you are away, destructive behavior and more. Taking your dog for a walk, a hike, a jog, a bike ride or a swim are all great ways to burn off energy. A long game of fetch or catch is also great. If possible, schedule these things for before you leave to help keep his body tired while you are away.
Visit our retail area for more information or to purchase some great tools that can help you. Some helpful tools we recommend are:
- If your dog pulls on leash, the Easy Walk Chest Harness is a very helpful, effective tool that helps to both keep your dog by your side and trains him not to pull on leash.
- Dog Backpack: Filling a backpack with water bottles or other things you take on walks is a great way to give your dog a job and tire him out on walks or hikes.
- The book “How to be the Leader of the Pack” by Patricia McConnell. We sell this book in retail. Is good to help modify and work with the pushy, demanding behaviors such as jumping, waiting politely at the door and pushing past people.
- Behavior Help Line is always available to adopters, and we can help with any additional issues or questions.
Make a Plan
Creating a plan for your dog’s exercise and mental stimulation needs can help ensure your dog gets the exercise he needs and adjusts comfortably and quickly into your home. Think about your dog’s daily routine and choose what type of exercise and mental stimulation your dog will receive and who will be in charge of making it happen. This is especially helpful to keep children in the home empowered and committed to caring for and bonding with your new dog. Having a specific list that the child gets to help create is a great way to teach them to consider the needs of his or her new dog and empower them to be actively involved in meeting each of those needs.