If you have a high energy breed of dog you may find out that keeping him or her busy and occupied is a full time job on its own. This is often because part of the issue with what is typically called a high energy dog is that they are very curious and naturally inquisitive and alert to their surroundings. This constantly on the move type behavior is not as much about physical energy as it is about mental energy and alertness. By combining training and mental challenges in the physical exercise and training programs you can work your dog appropriately so they will be calm and relatively relaxed during the times you need them to be.
Typically the breeds considered to be high energy are the dogs that have been bred for hunting, working for humans and being independent. As a matter of fact these traits are often what make these dogs so popular. Examples of dogs considered to be the higher energy and activity breeds include:
Jack Russell Terriers
English Springer Spaniels
This is only a partial list, plus there are several common mixed breed dogs that are also very high energy. It is important to keep in mind that these dogs are not just full of puppy energy, they will continue to be constantly on the go and ready to go for a romp or a run well into their senior years.
Although not really common in many areas, there are an increasing number of dog owners that are forming running clubs and holding fun competitive events where owners and their dogs are running as a team. This is similar to a marathon race, but the runners and the dogs must complete the race together. Often these races are more cross country in nature and many are through parks and other more rural settings which makes a great run for the dogs as well as the humans.
As with any type of endurance event you and your dog will have to build up to these kinds of events. One thing to keep in mind is that if you are training in the city, be very careful of the wear on your dog's feet, the pads can be damaged from the abrasive effects of the cement. If at all possible try to find natural ground to practice and run on or find protective boots to keep your dog's feet in good condition.
Agility competitions are really ideal for a high energy high interest type of dog. These events have dogs work through a series of obstacles at a rapid pace, with scoring based on the dog's performance. The owner is there to work with the dog but in advanced classes the commands are all verbal. Depending on the level of competition the dog will have to successfully complete the course which includes jumps, bridges, teeter-totters, plastic tunnels the dog must go through, poles the dog must weave between at a high rate of speed as well as a walk over that may include a ladder or stair apparatus.
These events are a terrific way to challenge a dog both mentally and physically. A dog has to have a strong foundation in obedience to be able to start in agility training, but since these dogs learn very quickly neither training is typically difficult at the beginning levels. It will take lots of positive reinforcement, practice and teamwork for the owner and the dog to work their way up through the levels of competition.
For a fun, team sport you may want to consider Flyball for your active dog. He or she needs to be well trained and should love to fetch and play with balls to fully get into the competition. In this relay teams of four dogs are lined up at a starting line, with a spring loaded board at the other end of the track. The first set of dogs runs to the other end of the course and jumps on the spring loaded board. This releases a tennis ball that the dog catches in his or her mouth and sprints back to the other dogs in the team. In addition to just pushing on the spring, the dog also executes a swimmer like turn using the sprint board to propel them back down the lane to their teammates. Like a relay, the first team with all dogs back is the winner.
This is a great fun event and there are actual competitions held nationally with different teams. Usually the teams are fairly evenly matched with sizes of dogs so large dogs aren't competing against smaller dogs and vice versa. Terriers, Border Collies and Australian Shepherds are among the most commonly seen dogs at Flyball competitions.
These dogs have to be both very athletic and fast, however they also have to be perfectly socialized and have a good competitive edge. It is interesting to note that the dog's realize they have to cross the finish line with the ball and will actually know to run and pick up the loose ball if, by accident, they lose it on the return run.
Frisbee dogs are used in exhibitions and competitions all over the world. This popular sport is an ideal match for dogs that are smart, have lots of energy and love to run in short bursts at high rates of speed. As always care has to be taken to properly condition the dogs and to carefully monitor their joint health since the jumping and running can be problematic.
Common breeds used in Frisbee dog competitions include Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, Spaniels and Retriever breeds. Many of the dogs used in both Frisbee and Flyball competitions are not purebreds, rather they are just regular dogs with a lot of energy and talent.