I see many dog owners who are concerned about their dog’s high energy level. Some dogs seem to have lots of energy, but is it high energy or bad habits?
Some dog owners feel that their puppy or their adult dog is high energy and it needs a lot of exercise to drain them out. Most dogs, especially younger dogs are born with healthy, low to medium level of energy. That is the normal energy level that most dog owners are posed but for them it feels unusually high or uncontrollable. Dog owners need to learn and understand that they just need to redirect that healthy and normal energy level to healthier forms of practices.
The fact is what happens following the dog begins living with the human, is what causes the dog to develop hyper activeness. The dynamics that the human offers to the dog will result in developing a hyper dog or even a calm dog.
Understanding that dogs do not have high energy but healthy, happy energy is very important. When dog owners assume their dog is high energy, they automatically associate it with a human who has been on a high caffeinated power drink. So, the dog owners implement the same with the dog. Exercise the dog till the dog has no energy left to physically move anymore.
Most dog owners that I have talked to say something like this; “my dog has so much energy that I need to exercise it till it gets tired, otherwise it won’t leave me alone”. “It keeps bothering me”. “You have no idea how it feels to live with a dog like that”. “You don’t understand because you don’t live with my dog. It is frustrating”.
The reality is that I understand what exactly is going on. What I don’t agree with is why is that a dog owner needs to exercise the dog to the point that it can’t physically move anymore? What is the point of having a dog then? Don’t they want the dog to accompany them in their lives? Isn’t the dog a part of their family and their lives? Why does the dog need to be tired at all the times in order to behave?
Here is a simple question. If a dog is high energy, do you think you need to add more high energy activity? Just think about it for few seconds before you answer it. I’d say yes, if that is what you want which is a high energy dog. But, if you are looking to reduce your dog’s high energy, then you need to provide low energy activities that help your dog to calm down.
If a dog is in high energy state of mind, it means the dog is not very familiar with low energy state of mind and it is not practicing it too often. You need to teach the dog how to reach the new, calm, low energy state of mind.
If your dog is high energy and you add even more high energy activities, it will be as you will be adding more fuel to the fire. You will just get a bigger fire or even more hyper dog.
High energy activities do not help with reducing your dog’s high energy level. They just help to create a fitter, stronger dog and if you happen to have a misbehaving dog, you are going to amplify a bad behaving, fit dog.
One thing that you need to understand is that hyper dogs are not born, they are made. If a dog has no structure in its life, if its five daily essential needs have not been met and its life has not been controlled and guided by its human, obviously it will be behaving differently or sometimes badly. This is the perfect storm for a dog to develop even more bad behaviours including hyper activeness.
High level and long periods of activities like jogging with humans or even walking a dog for long periods (90 minutes to 2 or 3 hours) continuously, playing fetch or “Chuckit” for 30 minutes, attaching your dog to a bike and making it run for a long period of time are some of the activities that I have noticed dog owners use to drain their dogs energy or exercise them.
These activities are not ideal forms of activities if you have a dog that is high energy or hyper. Activities like these will cause long term mental damage such as stress related health issues including cancer and physical damage especially with puppies and large breeds which are growing up.
When most (low or medium energy level) dogs start to especially live with high energy or high activity families, they start to become hyper. Therefore most dog owners knowingly or unknowingly think that their dog needs large amount of exercise. So, they start over-exercising their dog. Now, the dog is being trained and begins to learn in living in high energy state of mind regularly. This is when dogs start practicing bad habits and develop bad behaviours related to hyper activeness.
Most dogs are being over exercised or are involved with high energy activities. Over the past 10 years of my experience working with dog owners, I have realized the most common reason dogs have developed bad behaviours, is related to dogs being over exercised. Not so much with dogs that have low or under-exercised.
To address this issue you need to understand that dogs in general are not naturally high active animals. Just imagine in the wild, animals do not run around like maniacs or go for walks all the times. They don’t advertise their beings to other animals or predators with high level activities. Their lifestyles are very different. They don’t even play with toys. There are no balls, “Chuckit” toy or even squeaky toys that make noise and drive themselves crazy or makes other animals be aware of their presence. Activities and behaviours like these will attract predators. Instead they try to survive and stay alive by being calm and quiet. If they move too fast or run around they will catch the attention of the predators which is not wise. They will be attracting and advertising to be hunted. Animals naturally practice calmness.
But when a dog comes to human lifestyle, the rules of nature are thrown away. Dog owners do everything the opposite of what nature has integrated in them. One of them involves with their dog’s activity or the exercise level. They are mostly exposed in high activities and busy, hyper families that are not relaxed and do not practice calmness.
You need to learn from your dog and listen to their message that they are trying to send while living with you. They are saying to take it easy, calm down and relax.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not against exercising or working out. An unbalanced dog does not benefit from physical activities or high energy exercises. They will benefit from the following formula:
70% mental activities (like training, puzzles, games…) +
30% physical activities (like walking, playing with other dogs, obedience training…)
= Healthy, happy balanced dog
Your dog or any dog will mostly benefit from mental activities rather than physical. Dogs with behavioural issues and emotional issues will benefit more from mental exercises which help them to relax. Don’t force your dog to do what it is not comfortable with. Now, ask yourself, will my dog benefit from mental activities or physical?