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Topic: Considerations for High Energy Breeds

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Tags: Herding, Protection Dogs, Guard Dog, Kennel

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One of the benefits to many of the dogs that are considered to be high energy is that they are dogs that have been developed to do a specific job. Most of these jobs or breed traits include the dog working outside, either herding, running, protecting or guarding, meaning that they have also maintained a coat that is suitable for protection in most weather conditions.

For owners of these high energy breeds this can be a real positive, allowing the owners to provide outside time for the dogs without having to worry about inclement weather or other issues. This doesn't mean that owners don't have to provide a dry, warm kennel, but it does mean that the dogs don't have to be in the house all the time either.

Most of the high energy breeds tend to be medium to large sized dogs. There are some smaller high energy breeds including the Jack Russell Terrier, Fox Terrier, Toy Fox Terrier and even the Bichon Frise. Toy and Miniature Poodles can also be relatively high energy, but the advantage to the smaller and toy sized high energy breeds is that they can easily get their exercise in a house. After all a 10 inch tall, 12 pound dog can move around a lot in a house without doing any damage while a 28 inch tall, 100 pound dog is going to redecorate your house every time he or she starts to romp and play indoors.

It is generally not advisable to keep toy or very small sized dogs outdoors without supervision, simply because these dogs can get out of very small spaces and are often injured by other dogs if they do get out of the yard. If you do take the time to build a secure kennel or to carefully secure your yard you may be able to leave even the small and toy sized dogs outside, at least in appropriate weather. Keep in mind that many of the toy dogs are very susceptible to colds and respiratory problems, so damp and cold weather is a real health problem and concern.

For moderately sized to large high energy breeds such as the Labrador Retriever, Dalmatian, Siberian Husky, Boxers, Border Collies, Australian Cattle Dogs, Brittany Spaniels to name just a few, spending the day indoors can simply be too confining and can lead to a lot of destructive behaviors. If at all possible these dogs should have several hours per day where they can go outside and just be dogs. Most of these breeds will romp and play in the yard provided they have a few toys or even better, a companion high energy dog. They will also typically routinely patrol their area although they are not primarily guard or protection dogs. They are excellent watchdogs and most are not prone to problem barking, which makes them typically a good match for urban dwellings with large yards.

The key to keeping a high energy breed of dog happy is to ensure they have exercise time. By providing a combination of both indoor time in the evening as well as outdoor time during the day, these dogs seem to be happier and more relaxed and calm while indoors. It is important for owners to remember that just because the dog gets regular outside time in a fenced yard it doesn't mean that they don't need their routine walks and training time. Structured exercise and training provides both a physical and mental work out which is absolutely essential for these dogs. Most of the high energy dogs need at least two thirty minute structured exercise times per day to stay mentally and physically in good shape. These exercise times should include training, play times and lots of physical activity and movement. Some breeds, such as the Labrador Retrievers or the spaniels will play fetch for hours, while other breeds such as the Dalmatian and the northern dogs love to run or jog for great distances.

Keeping your high energy dog outside does require some accommodation and vigilant checking of your yard and fence. If an outside dog becomes bored it can start to dig or chew, often in an attempt to get outside and find someplace more exciting. Routinely checking the fence is going to be important, at least until you are sure that your dog is not engaging in these behaviors. It is also important to know that some high energy dogs are very athletic and can jump and climb. The Boxer is one example of this as they are almost cat like in their agility. The Catahoula Leopard Dog, a relatively uncommon hunting and tracking breed from Louisiana, will actually climb trees and can jump amazing distances. If you have these types of escape artist dogs you will definitely need a strong, tall fence, plus you will have to be careful of trees, branches and overhanging sheds or obstacles that can potentially provide your dog with the opportunity to get out.

Another consideration for keeping some of these breeds in your yard is that these dogs are almost genius level smart. Many can and will learn how to work the latch on a gate, especially if it is positioned low enough on the gate for the dog to use their nose to learn to push the lever up and out. A better option is to use a latch that hooks over a lip on the gate post, then a bolt or fastener is used to secure the two pieces together. This prevents the dog from being able to open it up on his or her own, no matter how smart they may be.

In general there are very few domesticated dogs that don't enjoy spending time with their owners in the house. However, this is not essential in many climates and for many dogs. Farm dogs may enjoy living completely outdoors, as may city dogs with proper kennels and outdoor living accommodations. Just remember that outside dogs need regular socialization, which means you have to spend outdoor time with them since they won't be inside with you.

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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