A dog with a high energy level can be a challenge to deal with on a daily basis. Depending on the breed, certain dogs require more mental and physical exercise. Otherwise, their pent up energy may lead to destructiveness, nervousness, separation anxiety, and aggressive tendencies.
Not only is it important to drain your dog’s energy physically, it is also important to drain your dog mentally. Below are five solutions for satisfying your dog’s mental and physical needs:
A Calm Dog Walk
First and foremost, frequent dog walks are very important, between 20 to 45 minutes a day, multiple times a day. A great way to begin the walk is by making sure your dog is in a calm state before leaving the house. When a dog leaves the house excited, they will be in an excited state during the walk and my pull on the leash and lunge at passersby.
Have your dog sit and wait at the door, open the door and continue to hold your dog in the sit until they are completely calm. Even if you have to spend fifteen minutes waiting for your dog to become calm at the door before leaving, it is worth it. This challenges the dog mentally to the point where, after spending the 15 minutes waiting the dog out until he is in a calm state, you could then only spend 5 minutes out on the walk. Always have the dog walking next to you rather than in front of you. The mental challenge will exhaust him enough so you will not have to spend as much time with the physical exercise.
Traditional obedience training will also mentally challenge your energetic dog. If your dog is running and jumping around the house out of control, put a leash on him and grab some training treats. Practice, sit, stay, wait, down, come, roll over, or advance cues that will engage his senses. The longer you have the dog wait in a position before rewarding him, the more it will mentally challenge him and, in turn, drain his energy.
A Dog Backpack
A dog backpack is a fantastic tool for draining a dog’s mental and physical energy. You do not have to put anything in it, just having the backpack on distracts the dog because he is in work mode and is preoccupied with having something on his back.
You can increase the distraction by putting some items inside of the backpack, depending on your dog’s size, age, and energy level. Even if you are walking your dog on the sidewalk in your neighborhood, wearing a backpack is a great way to keep him focused and to deter him from pulling or lunging at other dogs and people.
A treadmill will also serve to drain your dog’s mental and physical energy. With the dog on a leash, slowly and calmly guide him on to the treadmill. Guide the dog to step on and step off of it a few times to get comfortable with it. When the dog is standing calmly on the treadmill, turn it on at a very slow speed so the dog begins to walk. It is not about the speed of the treadmill, it’s more about the mental challenge of the dog having to figure out that he needs to keep walking in place on something that is moving.
As the dog becomes comfortable, you will be able to increase the speed, but you do not want to increase the speed too much because it’s not about building up your dog’s stamina for more exercise. Again, it’s about the mental challenge of walking on the devise. There are many training videos online that will demonstrate how to introduce a treadmill to a dog, but always use the highest levels of precaution and consult a trainer for more guidance.
Dog agility is another wonderful way to satisfy your dog’s mental and physical needs. Agility does not need to be a competitive sport. It is also a great way to improve a dog’s behavior, whether it is a timid dog that needs to build confidence, or an energetic dog with a ton of energy.
You can set up an urban agility course anywhere by taking a broom and balancing it on two chairs. With your dog on leash, encourage your dog to jump over the broom and then reward him on the other side.
You can also lower the broom and have the dog crawl under it. Begin by placing your dog in a down position and stand on the other side of the broom. Lead the dog toward you using the leash under the broom. Patience is always key because the dog may try to negotiate and you always want to wait them out and follow through on what you ask of them.
You can also have your dog jump up on park benches, boxes, or any sort of platform and have them sit and hold their position before moving on. Walking along any sort of narrow curb or beam, going through nylon tunnels, tires or hoops will also mentally and physically challenge them.
What is so great about agility is that you get to bond with your dog through the experience and they will learn how to follow and trust you. You will have the opportunity to challenge them by bringing their energy up to complete a task and then bring their energy down again, leaving your dog satisfied and tired.
When you satisfy your dog’s mental and physical needs, your dog will be calm, balanced, and happy!
Michael Burke is an Animal Communicator, Behavior Consultant, and Intuitive Life Coach. His mission is to help people better understand and communicate with their animals and overcome behavioral challenges. He also coaches people on how to improve their own energy, find balance, clear blocks and achieve their goals.
Michael communicates with animals intuitively in order to answer questions, find solutions and provide people and animals with peace, harmony, confidence and clarity. During an animal communication session with Michael, his clients receive guidance and support regarding behavior issues, health challenges, emotional obstacles and end of life crossroads. His unique approach combines his background as an intuitive with his experience in dog psychology, behavior and training, and energy healing.
Michael is a graduate of the Animal Behavior College and also works as a Dog Trainer at Cesar Millan’s Dog Psychology Center in Santa Clarita, CA, helping dogs with socialization, obedience, mastering the walk, and agility. Michael’s personal pack includes 3 dogs – a Pit Bull Mix, an Australian Shepherd/ Blue Heeler Mix, an Australian Shepherd puppy, and two cats.