10 Ways to Tire Out Your High-Energy Dog (Before You Lose Your Mind)

I believe animals are one of God's greatest gifts to us. They offer not just companionship but also unconditional love.

My High-Energy Dog

Several years ago, I made a rash decision to adopt a dog. I walked into an animal shelter, was smitten by a small pup, and took him home.

I don't recommend this impulsive approach to anyone, ever.

I did not take into account the dog's temperament or breed, nor did I consider my own energy level and lifestyle.

In retrospect, I think I was still grieving my previous pet companion of twenty years and should have waited longer before adopting another animal. (Not an excuse; just an explanation.)

Within 24 hours of arriving home from the shelter, I knew I was in trouble.

This furball was a source of constant motion. The first time I placed him on my bed, before I could say Jack Robinson, he stretched out his four paws and soared into the air like a doggy version of Superman. To this day, I don't know how he didn't break a leg as he landed on the carpet and then proceeded to run around the room in circles.

Those first weeks were absolutely draining as I struggled to control his energy and properly care for him.

Decision Time

Throughout those initial weeks, I considered returning my dog to the shelter but thought I should at least make an honest effort first. After all, if I had brought this mutt home with me, the least I could do was try to make it work.

I called my vet and dog trainers at my local pet stores for advice. The shelter had connected me with some other great resources which I also contacted. In addition, I surfed the internet like crazy for ideas on how to control my new pet's high energy level and tire him out.

What ended up working was a combination of good advice from professionals and trial and error. Every dog is different, but here's what has worked to keep my dog's energy level manageable and maintain my sanity in the process.

10 Ways to Tire Out Your Dog

  1. Take him for long walks.
  2. Let him sniff around outside.
  3. Throw treats into the grass.
  4. Play games.
  5. Teach him a new trick.
  6. Let him look out the window.
  7. Offer him things to lick and chew on.
  8. Give him an empty water bottle.
  9. Take him to a park.
  10. Visit new places.

1. Take Him for Walks

Start With 2 Shorter Walks

When I first brought my pup home, our walks were short because I had to teach him how to walk on a leash. Gradually, our walks became longer. My vet told me to take him for 2 short walks every day—one in the morning and one in the evening—rather than one long walk per day. This helped a lot. I would take him for a 20-minute walk after I woke up and another 20-minute walk at night. (Of course, I also took him out in between to do his business.) Sometimes I extended each walk to 30 minutes so he ended up walking for 60 minutes every day.

Doggy Classes

Since my mutt appeared to have little to no socialization skills with other dogs, my vet suspected he came from a puppy mill and had been separated from his mother too early. I signed my dog up for classes with an excellent trainer at Petco. He taught him how to walk better on a leash, and used his own dog as a model. His dog was very calm and gentle and my dog followed his lead. The four of us went on many walks together and this helped my pup become more comfortable on a leash and to feel more at ease with another dog.

Group Walks

This same trainer also organized some group dog walks with other dog owners. This gave my pup even more practice being on a leash and getting along with other canines, while also making the walks more interesting.

Build Up to 1 Long Walk

Once my mutt was older, I would often take him for one long 40-60 minute walk per day rather than 2 shorter walks. This helped a lot in tiring him out! Currently, I take him for two 15-20 minute walks per day, with longer walks on the weekends when I have more time. Without question, the longer walks work best in tiring him out.

Establish a Routine

I notice that, like humans, dogs thrive on consistency and routine. A regular walking schedule may reduce your pup's anxiety and help keep him calm.

Because my work schedule has been very inconsistent throughout the past eight months due to covid, I feel badly that I have allowed this to interfere with my dog's regular walks, so I'm working on getting back into a routine.

My current goal is to take him for two daily walks: a short 15-20 walk in the morning and a longer walk later in the day.

Find a regular walking schedule that works best for you. Establishing a routine will give your pup consistency and help curb his energy level.

2. Let Him Sniff Around

To Sniff or Not to Sniff?

I initially wasn't sure how much I should let my dog sniff during our walks. I felt that too much stopping to smell the roses would defeat my goal of trying to wear him out.

Then I learned that allowing him to sniff outside provided him with mental exercise—a way for him to work his brain. Smell is a dog's most powerful sense and he uses it to gather important information about his environment.

For example, by smelling a tree, a dog can learn about other dogs that live in the same neighborhood. He may be able to determine their gender, age, and even whether or not they were stressed or ill when they were at the tree! Letting your dog sniff during your walks is sort of like letting him read the daily doggy news. It keeps his mind stimulated and active and will help to tire him out.

Be sure to monitor what he smells to ensure it's not something he may ingest and get sick from.

Use a Different Harness

Some owners use a different harness on their dog depending on the occasion. For example, when they take their dog out to run with them, they use one harness. When they take the dog for his daily walk, they use a different harness. The dog learns to associate the first harness with running and no sniff time. He learns to associate the other harness with walks and allowed sniff time.

Switch Up the Walks

To keep things more engaging for my pup, I occasionally switch up our walking routes. I know his favorite paths and usually stick to those, but once in a while I take him a different way or turn a different corner. This provides him with more mental stimulation, as there are new sights and smells for him to process.

3. Throw Treats in the Grass

My dog absolutely loves to dig his nose into the grass after I've thrown a treat in it. He won't give up until he finds it and this gives him another chance to use that strong sense of smell.

Whether I have him off-leash in a park or on leash on a sidewalk along grass, I simply toss a small morsel of food 3 to 6 feet in front of him and allow him to find it. The better the flavor, the greater his motivation to get it. To make it more challenging, you can gradually extend the distance you throw the food. If you have him on leash, be sure to keep it loose so he doesn't choke if he sprints for the treat too quickly!

Suggestions for Treats:

  • kibbles (dry dog food morsels)
  • chopped up carrots or apples
  • blueberries
  • frozen tiny peanut butter balls (without xylitol)
  • plain Cheerios
  • store-bought treats

4. Play Games With Your Dog

Dogs are highly social creatures that love to interact with us. Playing games with them is another way to help tire them out.

Some games to teach and play with your dog:

  • Hide and Seek: Command your pup to stay. Once you hide, command him to come and let him find you. Challenge your canine by hiding in new places such as in the bathtub or under a big blanket. Sometimes I deliberately leave some of my closet doors open during the day so that I can quietly sneak inside them later, when we play hide and seek.
  • Fetch: Throw a ball or toy and have him bring it back to you on command
  • Bring me "X" (name the toy): Ask him to bring you each toy by name.
  • Treasure Hunt: Command your dog to stay as you hide treats around your home. Then allow him to find them.

Some activities your dog can engage in on his own:

  • Puzzles: These toys have slots your dog must slide open with his muzzle or paws to access the treats you place inside.
  • Snuffle mats: These are cloth mats with loose strips attached to the top that provide hiding spots for treats.
  • Treat dispenser toys: These popular toys have openings through which your dog must get the treats through wobbling or rolling the toys.

5. Teach Him a New Command or Trick

Dogs enjoy learning new things because it keeps their minds active. If you always play the same games and practice the same tricks, they may become bored. Once your pup has learned a few commands and tricks, try teaching him some new ones.

Some commands and tricks to teach your dog:

  • sit
  • stay
  • freeze
  • come
  • drop it
  • leave it
  • heel
  • lay down
  • high five (or wave)
  • roll over
  • "get ...." (name the toy you want him to get)
  • fetch

6. Let Him Look Outside

Do you have a window in your home your furball likes to look out of? Doggy steps are a great way to give him access to a window at a higher level if he's unable to jump.

If you have a balcony or deck, consider allowing your pup to hang out there on cool days (as long as he can't fit through the rails).

Letting him see what's going on outside offers him interesting visual stimulation which keeps his mind active. Provide him with a comfortable mat to lie on, especially if he is older, and make sure he has a bowl of water and shade available if it's warm out.

7. Give Him Things to Chew and Lick

Licking and chewing on treats can keep a dog occupied for a good chunk of time!

I fill hollow bones or Kong toys with food and freeze them overnight to keep my pup busy. To save time, I sometimes fill and freeze many at once so that I can quickly grab one from the freezer when I need it.

My dog can spend up to 30 minutes licking a frozen peanut butter filled toy. He will lap up every last remnant on it and appears to be in a state of utter ecstasy the entire time.

Some foods you can fill and freeze hollow bones or toys with:

  • peanut butter (make sure it doesn't contain xylitol which is poisonous to dogs)
  • plain unsweetened yogurt
  • pumpkin (not pumpkin filling)
  • mashed sweet potatoes
  • unsweetened applesauce
  • mashed bananas
  • canned pet food
  • chicken or bone broth (clog up the openings of the bone or toy with peanut butter)

Other things you can give your dog to lick or chew on:

  • bully sticks
  • Himalayan chews
  • elk antlers
  • cow hooves
  • bully horns
  • pig ears

Note: Talk to your vet about healthy chews he recommends for your pup.

8. Offer Him an Empty Water Bottle

My dog goes nuts when he sees me drinking from a plastic water bottle from the grocery store. He knows I will give him the bottle after I finish drinking from it and that thing will get plastered in a matter of minutes once he gets a hold of it. He loves the crackling sound it makes as he flattens it out. After he is satisfied with his work, he's usually exhausted.

Take the bottle away after he flattens it out. Teach him to "drop it" on command once he finishes tearing it up and reward him immediately when he does.

9. Take Him to a Park

If you have a large, enclosed yard where your dog can roam freely, you are very fortunate. But even so, switching things up occasionally will help keep his mind stimulated.

Take your furball to a dog park or large open field where he can run around and play with you off-leash, as long as it is safe to do so. Take a frisbee and have a blast!

Dog parks often have a designated area for smaller pups so be sure to look for this if you have a small breed.

Many state and national parks allow dogs, although they often have rules such as keeping them on leash and picking up after them.

Regardless of the type of park you visit, beware of children and other canines that may be around. Also, be sure to take plenty of water with you, especially to help keep your dog cool in the summer.

10. Visit New Places

Do you like to travel to new locations? Your furbaby will love exploring them with you and they will offer him more stimulating sights and scents to take in.

Some ideas:

  • a new dog park
  • state and national parks you've never been to
  • a lake
  • the mountains
  • pet stores
  • hardware stores
  • downtown
  • a nearby town you've never been to
  • a different neighborhood in your area

Be creative. Since my vet is in a neighboring town where I normally don't go, I'll often leave my house 30 min. early for vet appointments so my pup and I can walk around the area first. He loves it!

Final Thoughts

If you are thinking of adopting a dog, I strongly encourage you to research different breeds and find a pup with a temperament that is compatible with your energy level and lifestyle.

I was fortunate in that I was able to make it work with my new pet, but my story could have ended very differently. Do your research, talk to your vet and other dog professionals, and gather as much information as you can before you make this important decision.

If you are struggling with caring for a high-energy dog because of your job and family obligations, please consider finding a home for your pet where he can receive the attention he needs. Please know there is no shame in acknowledging your limitations—on the contrary, it often takes great courage to do so. Find a rescue organization in your area that will take your dog or help you find a suitable home for him.

I hope these tips are helpful to you. Our pets rely on us to care for them. Let's give them our best!



© 2020 Madeleine Clays

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

There is no doubt, as any animal lover will tell you, that just touching or being near an animal can be therapeutic. There is nothing like the feeling of stroking your rabbit’s super soft fur, listening to your cat’s low rumbling purr or being comforted by your dog’s rhythmic panting. Research has proven that the mere presence of your pet enhances your mood and lifts symptoms of depression by offering an alternative focus of mind. The mere distraction and presence of an animal can be sheer joy and just the simplicity of perhaps brushing your dog’s fluffy coat or feeling your cat knead your chest, can release the feel good chemical Endorphins . Make sure you take time to have daily interaction and physical contact with your pet and just feel the stress lift from your shoulders!

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This Is What Too Much Screen Time Does To You

Whether you’re working or doomscrolling, your body will feel it.

Maybe your mom gave you a warning when you were a kid: "too much TV will make your eyes go square." But these days, as all kinds of screen-based devices — tablets, iPods, laptops, mobile phones — are so enmeshed in our daily lives that they may as well be attached to our bodies, scientists have been focused on figuring out what screen time does to the body and brain. Even if you steer clear of the pearl-clutching headlines, the evidence is clear that you do want to try to get off the computer from time to time.

A lot of the science around the negative effects of screen time focuses on children. But what about adults in dorm rooms and bedrooms, scrolling Instagram or texting until late at night? Too much computer use, just like too much phone use, can indeed cause prolonged physical effects on adults.

"All of us struggle to keep the balance between using technology as a resource and using technology as a crutch," Meaghan Rice, PsyD LPC, a therapist with Talkspace, tells Bustle. Sometimes, she says, it's a good idea to completely unplug from screens. "That boosts our self-worth, increases our momentum, and decreases our stress." Other times, you'll need to spend time on the computer, whether it's for work, or school, or find out who the impostor in Among Us is.

Reducing your screen time just a little — or at least being mindful of how your body is contorted over your laptop — can be good for you. Here are five ways excessive screen time changes your body.

1. Your Brain Restructures

According to different studies, a large amount of screen time as an adult can restructure the matter that makes up your brain. (The brain consists of gray matter, the heavy bit that makes up the folds, and white matter, which transmits messages between neurons.) One study published in Addictive Behaviors in 2020 found that people who had been diagnosed with smartphone addiction — a debated term that generally describes a pattern of problematic smartphone use — had lower amounts of gray matter in various parts of their brain, and lower activity, than others. In general, screen addiction is linked to gray matter shrinkage, problems with white matter's ability to communicate, a lot more cravings, and general poorer cognitive performance. Folks who aren't "addicted" to their smartphones, but do use their devices heavily may experience some version of the same restructuring.

2. You're More Vulnerable To Eye Strain

It's pretty well-recognized by the medical community that too much screen time is bad for your peepers. Blue light from screens isn't just keeping us awake it may also damage the retina, and eye strain from too much device use is increasing.

"We do not blink as often when we are looking at a screen," Dr. Benjamin Bert M.D., an ophthalmologist with Memorialcare Orange Coast Medical Centers, previously told Bustle. "Without having breaks during the day, these mini “staring contests” with our screens will lead to fatigue and symptoms of dry eye." He recommends taking a break every 10 to 15 minutes to look at a distance target, out a window or across the room, and close the eyes completely for one or two seconds.

3. It Can Affect How You Process Emotions

A study published in 2019 in The British Journal of Developmental Psychology found that the more screen time children had, the less emotional understanding they demonstrated. But it may impact adults, too. Even if you didn't grow up with an iPad within reach, lack of frequent face-to-face interaction, in favor of Facebook and other simulated emotional connections, may actually impact on your ability to process emotion properly. Rice tells Bustle that unplugging may be a good thing for your personal relationships, simply because you spend more time in real life with others.

4. It Can Increase Mortality

A 2012 study published in The British Journal of Sports Medicine indicated that spending significant time parked in front of a screen — whether it's a TV, computer or tablet — lowers cardiovascular health outcomes and increases mortality risk. And if you're trying to offset your days of playing Animal Crossing on the couch with exercise each day, it may not be enough a 2011 study of 4,500 adults showed that lots of screen time raised your likelihood of death by up to 52%, while being a consistent exerciser only lowered that by about 4%. So it's not just the sedentary lifestyle it's something about screen viewing itself that causes our bodies to work less well.

5. You May Be At Higher Risk Of Depression

The longer you spend sitting staring at the computer, the more at risk you might be of depression. That's the verdict of a host of studies, including one published in 2019 in BMC Public Health, which surveyed 19 different studies and found a strong link between a lot of screen time (while sitting down) and depressive symptoms. Another, in Preventive Medicine Reports in 2017, found the link was particularly strong in women — but this could be a two-way street. You may be more at risk of depression if you sit on your laptop for hours, but equally, people who are feeling depressed are more inclined to want to scroll through Instagram under the covers.

Katzmarzyk, P. T., & Lee, I. M. (2012). Sedentary behaviour and life expectancy in the USA: a cause-deleted life table analysis. BMJ open, 2(4), e000828.

Madhav, K. C., Sherchand, S. P., & Sherchan, S. (2017). Association between screen time and depression among US adults. Preventive medicine reports, 8, 67–71.

Skalická, V., Wold Hygen, B., Stenseng, F., Kårstad, S. B., & Wichstrøm, L. (2019). Screen time and the development of emotion understanding from age 4 to age 8: A community study. The British journal of developmental psychology, 37(3), 427–443.

Stiglic, N., & Viner, R. M. (2019). Effects of screentime on the health and well-being of children and adolescents: a systematic review of reviews. BMJ open, 9(1), e023191.

Veerman, J. L., Healy, G. N., Cobiac, L. J., Vos, T., Winkler, E. A., Owen, N., & Dunstan, D. W. (2012). Television viewing time and reduced life expectancy: a life table analysis. British journal of sports medicine, 46(13), 927–930.

Wang, X., Li, Y. & Fan, H. (2019) The associations between screen time-based sedentary behavior and depression: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Public Health19, 1524.

Weng, C. B., Qian, R. B., Fu, X. M., Lin, B., Han, X. P., Niu, C. S., & Wang, Y. H. (2013). Gray matter and white matter abnormalities in online game addiction. European journal of radiology, 82(8), 1308–1312.

This article was originally published on Oct. 26, 2015

How to Be Patient with Your Puppy

Last Updated: July 16, 2020 References

This article was co-authored by Brian Bourquin, DVM. Brian Bourquin, better known as “Dr. B” to his clients, is a Veterinarian and the Owner of Boston Veterinary Clinic, a pet health care and veterinary clinic with two locations, South End/Bay Village and Brookline, Massachusetts. Boston Veterinary Clinic specializes in primary veterinary care, including wellness and preventative care, sick and emergency care, soft-tissue surgery, dentistry. The clinic also provides specialty services in behavior, nutrition, and alternative pain management therapies using acupuncture, and therapeutic laser treatments. Boston Veterinary Clinic is an AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) accredited hospital and Boston’s first and only Fear Free Certified Clinic. Brian has over 19 years of veterinary experience and earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Cornell University.

There are 13 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

This article has been viewed 7,948 times.

A puppy can be a cute and fun addition to your family. It can also be extremely frustrating and regularly test your patience. Because dogs are sensitive to the moods of their owners, it is important that you stay calm and avoid lashing out at your puppy. This can damage your relationship and make the puppy more difficult to train. Instead, you should try to manage your frustration in a healthy way. You should also arrange for your puppy’s arrival ahead of time and follow a few simple principles to make training your puppy much easier. With a little forethought and some mindfulness, you can make the training experience a nice one for you and your puppy.

Watch the video: How to Tire out High Energy Dogs! (August 2021).