Courtesy of: Brea

Many dog owners are surprised with the amount of energy their dog seems to have.  When dogs have too much built-up energy, they can display it in a number of unhealthy ways such as chewing, barking, and destroying anything they can get their mouths on!  My motto is “A tired dog is a happy dog” and it’s true!  There are numerous ways to help channel your dog’s energy in a healthy way.

Walking, running, or even bicycling with your dog is a great way to help burn off some energy. These repetitive movements strengthen your dog’s muscles and help to get them in shape.  Oh, and by the way, it’s great exercise for you too!  For people with really high energy dogs (like Cooper, my German Shorthaired Pointer), you can purchase this amazing invention- a backpack for dogs!  This gives the dog a real “job” to do. Whether you pack his own things inside, or add some weights, it amplifies the walk so your dog has to work harder thus burning more energy.  Remember to start light and gradually build up the weight.  Also, make sure you have an equal weight in both sides of the backpack.  As a general rule, the weight should not exceed between 15-30% of your dog’s body weight.  If you aren’t sure, remember to consult with your veterinarian to determine how much your dog should carry.

Cooper's backpack

If you have a dog like mine who doesn’t think he even belongs on a leash, there are many “off leash” activities that can really help burn off that energy.  Make sure your dog has a reliable recall (comes when called) so it is safe for both you and your dog.  Our Trainer, Kaila, will be happy to help you in this area.  One of Cooper’s all-time favorite things to do is go to the dog park.  He absolutely LOVES other dogs, and could spend the entire day there if I would let him.  Taking your dog to the dog park is a fabulous way to socialize them with other dogs, and people as well.  People enjoy when I bring my dog  there because he is SO busy, he really tires out the other dogs!  I assure you, your dog will sleep on the drive home.

Another favorite pastime of Cooper’s is going to the field.  Whether it’s playing ball or running around foolishly, he has a blast.  There are also many off-leash trails that you can take them to really burn off some steam.  Just be on the lookout for any wildlife you may encounter.  A reliable recall is a huge asset when your best friend comes nose to nose with a skunk or porcupine!  We particularly like to go to places that have water near them so he can swim.  Swimming is another exercise that is great for your dog.  Swimming is great for your dog’s joints and helps to cool them off on hot summer days.

German Shorthaired Pointers are not only great companion animals, but they were bred to be very versatile hunting dogs.  My boyfriend does a lot of hunting during the season, so they are involved in a hunting club called NAVHDA (North American Versatile Hunting Dog Association).

Cooper's a hunting dog!

Many dogs were bred for a specific purpose, whether it’s hunting, herding, or racing. Giving your working dog a “job” by letting them channel their instincts toward what they were bred for is a great way to help relieve energy in a healthy way.  If you don’t provide them with healthy outlets, your dog can display these instincts in undesirable ways.  For example,  a border collie who is not stimulated enough and not given a job to do, could start nipping at your heels or herding small children.

Many people tend to only think of the ways to make your dog physically tired.  Just as importantly, you can actually make your dog mentally tired.  This can come in handy when your dog is recovering from a surgery and has to refrain from physical activity for an extended period of time.  If you’ve read my previous blog regarding Cooper’s experiences with the “cone of shame”, you’ll remember that this is how I made it through his neuter experience!  Stimulating a dog’s mind is very exhausting for them.  Training requires your dog to think a lot, whether it’s regular obedience, or just teaching a new trick.

Cooper's new trick!

There are also many types of toys that help to keep them busy.  One of my favorite is called a “Kong Wobbler”.

Kong Wobbler

I bring Cooper to work with me here at the clinic every morning.  He used to hate coming here until I started using this fabulous invention.  I screw off the bottom and place his breakfast inside. He has to move it around so his kibble can fall out of the small hole.  By the time he finishes his breakfast, he is tired again!  It takes about half an hour for my dog to get all of the kibble out.  Another toy that we use is a Rubber Kong with stuffed with cheese whiz or peanut butter.  We then put it in the  freezer and it makes a nice tasty cold treat for your dog.

As if all of this wasn’t enough, I still have to tell you about my all-time favorite activity to do with my dog… AGILITY!

Cooper loves agility too!

I absolutely love agility training.  It is a fabulous way to spend time with your dog.  Agility will help to fulfill your dog’s natural instincts.  These courses are designed to replicate types of natural scenarios and fulfill the instincts of your working dog.  Running a course that involves many different types of obstacles will challenge your dog both mentally and physically.  This will help to strengthen muscles, improve coordination, keep him fit, and increase endurance.  Agility training helps strengthen the bond between you and your dog.  Your dog is dependent on you on the course and could not do it without you.  Leading your dog through an agility course will help reinforce basic obedience commands, improve communication, and improve your dog’s behavior outside of the agility course. Agility will also help you get in shape, too!  You will learn very quickly if you have a fast dog, you need to be fast on the course.  Take it from me!

If you have any questions about keeping your dog tired and happy, feel free to contact me at or give us a call at 843-2341.  Also, Cooper and I spend lots of time at the dog park if you want your dog to get a good workout!

Remember, a tired dog is a happy dog!

A tired dog is a happy dog!