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Articles > Dogs

Training Tips For High Energy Breeds

Topic: Considerations for High Energy Breeds

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Filed under Dogs
Tags: Training, Exercise


Beautiful German Shepherds 9 weeks old. Up to date on shots, eating great, very healthy. Ready to go to forever home. Dad is certified drug dog, impo…


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Almost all puppies are going to be virtually high energy, seeming to have boundless enthusiasm and a willingness to get up and walk, run or play at any time. However for most puppies, especially under about 4 months of age, these bursts of high energy time will be interspersed with times of complete and full sleep, meaning that owners have a break as well. Often this sleep comes like a sudden crash, with the puppy fast asleep wherever they stopped moving.

Dogs that are categorized as high energy typically tend to grow out of the intense sleeping periods and basically are ready to go full throttle at any point in time. These breeds need a lot of significant, moderate to high intensity level exercise to be truly content and relaxed when they are indoors or when they are in training sessions. Getting the most of your training time with a high energy dog breed does require some additional planning on your part to avoid your frustration and increase the positive interaction and learning for your dog.

There are many characteristics of high energy breeds that make them appealing pets. They are willing to get involved in anything the family is doing, are typically great with children, love to be outdoors, and are a perfect match for active people. They also tend to be very playful dogs, even well into their senior years. As with any personality or temperament type, a high energy breed may also have some more challenging traits. Generally these dogs need to be in the center of the activity regardless of what it is; they can be rather dominant in personality and temperament; highly distractible in training and may also be difficult to train off leash.

Understanding what motivates and drives a high energy dog can really help with getting the most out of your training sessions. Not all high energy breeds are motivated by the same thing, just like dogs within a breed may have different levels of interest in rewards, playtime and treats. Generally all dogs are going to respond to verbal praise and petting, providing they have been handled positively and socialized with humans as they grow and mature. High energy breeds often are very intelligent and may be more interested in your praise and attention than some of the other dog breeds. Watching how your dog responds and what motivates them to learn and please you is an important consideration when setting up your training program.

Another important tip when training a high energy breed is to always, always provide an intensive and relatively long exercise time prior to training, as well as a shorter time after training. Since by their very nature they are athletic, sandwiching high concentration, high focus activities between more intense physical activities is a natural match for these dogs.

Choosing your training time with regards to the dog's schedule and daily routine as well as your schedule and routine will be another major consideration. It is never a good idea to try to train any dog, let alone a high energy breed, right after you get home. It is a much better idea to allow your dog to calm down and accept the fact that you are home, then take him or her for a walk, have a bit of play and then get down to training. If your dog is only moderately motivated by treats, training before feeding is a good option since they will be a little hungry to start with. Dogs that are highly motivated by food and treats typically will be happy to work for that extra little special morsel, even if they are relatively full.

Besides just avoiding training immediately after you arrive home you should also look for times when your dog seems to be naturally more focused. This is often when there are few distractions in the environment, so perhaps when the kids are at school or when the other pets or people are out of the house or room is the best time. Not all high energy dogs are easily distracted but most are very alert as to what is going on about them. Dogs that are both high energy and high prey drive are going to be the most challenging since they are naturally hard wired to chase and hunt, which means they will be watching for movement and changes in the environment at all times.

With regards to training times it is also important to keep your frame of mind in consideration. Since high energy dogs are going to do best with an owner that stays calm, focused and relaxed during training you have to be able to stay in that mindset. If you are stressed, anxious, worried or tired it would be better to skip a day of training than have a disastrous session. High energy dogs are often very sensitive to changes in the owner's voice and behavior and when you respond atypically it can confuse the dog as to what he or she is supposed to be doing. These mixed messages may interfere with how fast the dog learns new commands or it may teach the dog very bad habits if you just simply give in.

Providing exercise time before training is important as mentioned above, but so is timing the duration of your training session. Keep the sessions short enough to have the dog stay manageable and positive but still accomplish a reasonable amount of work. It is better to stop on a positive note than try to work for 10 more minutes and result in the dog getting off task and having a battle of wits between the trainer and the dog. Dogs that are intelligent will quickly get bored with the same commands, so don't keep asking the dog to repeat a command, especially if he or she was slow or reluctant on the last repetition. Most dogs only need a day or two of training with the simple, basic commands to understand the concept. For example, even a small puppy will learn to come in just a few repetitions, provided they get a small treat and attention from the owner upon their successful completion of the command.

Be sure to work exercise into training for high energy dogs. A homemade agility or obstacle course is a great way to train your dog and add that physical component to your training. There are lots of websites and books on how to creatively exercise and train a high energy dog, so do some research and plan to incorporate some new strategies into your training routine.

Other articles under "Considerations for High Energy Breeds"

Article 3 - "The Importance of Socialization"
Article 4 - "High Energy Dog Breeds"
Article 5 - "Inside or Outside"
Article 7 - "Kids and High Energy Dog Breeds"

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