Dogs are without a doubt man and women’s very best friend. Showering us with daily unconditional love and affection, they’re often content with the simplest things in life – like walks around the park, pats and delicious doggy treats.
Whilst the benefits of dog ownership are well documented and much appreciated, it goes without saying sometimes our furry friends can (unintentionally) drive us around the twist!
Whether barking all day much to the neighbor’s dismay, bowling over visitors in excitement the moment they enter your front door or finding exotic, chewable treats amongst your fancy furniture; anyone who owns one of the more energetic dog breeds can relate to these common challenges.
The good news is whilst certain breeds are genetically wired to be big balls of energy (especially guard dogs and working dogs), it is possible through regular exercise, positive reinforcement and obedience training to achieve a healthy balance that lets you all live in harmony under the one roof : )
Practical tips for calming energetic dog breeds:
1. Regular Physical exercise & routine Let’s begin with the most obvious advice for calming a high energy dog – regular exercise which establishes a healthy routine! Just like (most) humans, dogs need both physical and mental stimulation to keep their minds balanced. Like us, they also thrive on structure and routine which makes their days more predictable and minimises anxiety of the unknown. The need for regular exercise is even more obvious in the highest energy breeds – such as Border Collies, Dalmatians, Jack Russell’s, Kelpies and Siberian Huskies given their innate drive to work and socialise. Generally speaking, a 20-30 minute walk twice/day at roughly the same time (ideally morning and evening) should suffice : )
2. Regular Mental exercise & stimulation: While daily, structured physical exercise is essential for calming the more energetic dog breeds (and keeping our furry friends in good health generally speaking), regular mental stimulation is just as important. What does ‘mental stimulation’ for a dog look like you might ask? It includes everything from teaching them simple tricks and commands – like sit, stay and shake (hands), through to playing frisbee or completing interactive puzzles in the park. Even better if there’s a tasty treat waiting for them at the end to reward their concentration!
3. Dog Obedience training: This neatly flows to our third tip – Dog Obedience Training. As we covered in detail last month, instilling obedient and healthy behaviours from a very young age is an essential foundation for any happy dog-owner relationship. This is even more so with the most energetic breeds who are innately wired to be active, or in the case of Working Dogs to round up smaller creatures for hours on end. Not only can a professional Dog Trainer teach you how to effectively teach your pet healthy behaviours and essential commands; as a bonus, the mental concentration required to learn new tricks will likely burn off some of their excess energy.
4. Rewarding calm behavior: Just as we reward our furry friends for dutifully obeying commands and completing physical challenges, we should also be rewarding them for the times when they just sit still and display a welcome sense of calm. This great 2018 advice from Positive Pets is one we’d love to see more dog owners follow:
“One of the best things we can do to make living with a hyperactive dog easier is to reward our dog for calm behaviour. For example, if your hyperactive dog is actually laying down, reward her calmly. This reward may be in the form of calm verbal praise, in some cases a low value treat or short calm massaging touch”.
5. Creating a cosy environment encouraging rest: After a busy day at work, we all enjoy coming home to a relaxing couch where we can unwind. Dogs are much the same, which leads us to our final practical tip – and that is to create a cosy environment encouraging rest. From placing their doggie bed in a well-insulated room at a comfortable temperature, to using soft lamp lighting after dark or even lighting a few aromatherapy candles (safely out of reach of course), anything that quietens our busy mind and reduces unnecessary stimulation will likely have a similar effect on your furry friend. Here’s to a good night’s sleep for you all!