For the dog who destroys everything, eats everything, and has incredibly high energy.
Lily (our 60lb Labrador Retriever) has chewed through all of the following in the first year we had her:
- Every single pair of shoes I owned
- A few shirts
- 4 remotes
- Red pepper flake bag
- Battery (thankfully not to her own poisoning)
- A metal tube
- Drywall all the way along both sides of the garage
- 1 ft of the rubber seal on our garage door
- A doorstop
- Window sill
- Any lid she can get her teeth on
- Tupperware dishes
- A few other things I’m forgetting
Funny thing, she’s never chewed on furniture (legs of a table, chair, or couch).
Needless to say, she’s a very active chewer. And during rain season, she was very ansy. We couldn’t take her out to play in bad weather, so she would end up chewing and barking from having so much energy.
It’s reasonable for dogs to have high energy, especially bigger dogs. In their younger years, they have all the makings for good hunting/guard dogs. And in a domestic setting, they don’t really have to do any of that. For a few months, we didn’t know how to handle Lily’s destructive chewing behavior. She wasn’t really good at walking, and she could play for about 10-15 minutes at a time, but after a 20 minute nap it was like nothing happened. We were worried she was one day going to chew something that would make her sick while we were at work.
This would be where a number of people would throw in the towel and rehome their pup. And I can understand where that frustration can come from. Feeling like no matter what you do your dog still has enough energy to destroy things is exhausting. And if you don’t have any extra time to spare, it can be even harder. But I’m giving you some extra tips to try, in hopes that if you’re on your last leg, that this will be what changes your relationship with your pup. Very often we see high energy breeds in shelters because families could not keep up with the energy levels.
We consulted with a dog trainer to help us. And today I’m sharing with you her favorite tips that made our lily a completely different dog.
20 ways to help manage your high energy dog
Yes I know, this is one is obvious, but are you sure you’re walking your dog long enough? Or fast enough? Lily’s magic number was 45 minutes of me brisk walking, or my husband normal walking. Alternatively, a 25 minute jog (about 2.5 miles) would also keep her calm in the morning/evenings.
One thing our trainer told us is that many people believe that a quick 15 minute walk is enough for the day. And that’s wrong. Dogs don’t need 4-5 consecutive hours of activity, but a few bursts of lots of activity can help keep them more relaxed at home during the day. I decided to use this as a good motivator to start running again. We first taught her how to walk on a leash, then we added the 45+ minute walks, or 25 minutes jogs in the mornings/evenings, and it truly made her a happier pup.
Make them work for food
Most Labradors are EXTREMELY food motivated, so this works best for very food motivated dogs.
Our trainer told us to make eating more of a “hunting” activity. This would not only help develop Lily’s foraging skills, but it would also help her have to think and work for her meal, which would help her tire out a little more. Here’s a few ways you can do the same.
- Freeze their food: soak in some water, and have them work to get it out of the bowl, and then eat it. Sometimes this could take up to a half hour. Just make sure you don’t do this all the time, for every meal.
- Hide it around the house: This was my favorite because it was free and Lily went crazy every time. Take their serving of kibbles, and distribute them around the house floor. In corners, in every room, and halls. It’s a great way to turn a 30 second meal into a 5+ minute adventure.
- Get a “puzzle” bowl. We bought this one for lily from Chewy, and she’s still using it almost a year later.
- Get a “snuffle” mat: If you’ve never of these, check this one out that we also got for lily. Between this and the bowl, she would take just under 7-8 minutes to eat her meals.
- If you have an EXTREMELY food motivated dog, try throwing their kibbles in the backyard, and then having them eat that way. We tried this with lily, but it didn’t quite work.
There’s plenty of toys out there that are meant to be puzzles for dogs. We bought the following ones for lily:
- Trixie puzzle board (which she chewed through within a few days)
- Petrageous advanced pet board (she also chewed up)
- Bob a lot (this one is our FAVORITE, we use this every time we leave her, or to distract her)
- Here’s a weird toy we never heard of before until we met our trainer. Lily did OK with it, but we’ve heard great success stories for other dogs.
This was my favorite project puzzle, because it required nothing but empty used boxes and some duct tape. Again, this is great for destructive dogs.
You can use almost any pantry box that you empty out. We always used pasta boxes, cereal boxes, or even beer cases. Simply stuff with a few of their favorite treats, wrap in tape, and let them tear it up to get the treat. We once did a “boxception” puzzle for Lily, 4 boxes all inside one another. It took her 30 minutes to chew through all four boxes, and she ended up sleeping from 6 pm til 7 am the next day!
Another fun puzzle requires 9 or more toilet paper cartons (or even napkin ones), and a shoe box. Line up all the rolls inside the box so they fit snug and won’t fall out easily, then place small treats at the bottom of the rolls. Most dogs will take a few minutes to figure out knocking it over, but some will just chew through them.
Get creative, but make it rewarding so a dog stays motivated. You could also try hiding puzzles for an added challenge.
Don’t let them sleep as much
Dogs can very much be like children sometimes. This was my go to trick once she was done growing, and I was a stay at home wife. She’s used to sleeping while we’re not home, so when we got home, she was full of energy. When I was home, I tried to limit her sleeping. She would do puzzles, go play outside, people watch at the window, and explore more, so she spent less time being anxious and wound up.
Watch their calorie intake
Dogs don’t need a high amount of calories, unless they are hunting gs or they do high amounts of heavy activity with you. A dog who is getting exercise but may still be very high energy might be getting food that is too high in calories. Nutrition is important, but it’s also just as important to find the right balance for your dog.
Find a dog who loves to play as much as yours. Or use apps like Rover and Wag to set them up with dogs of the same energy. We knew a family who would take their dog to dog daycare just to socialize him with other dogs, and he always came home tired and ready to sleep.
You know those laser light that can sometimes make cats go crazy. This can also sometimes be a fun game for dogs. Every once in a blue moon, we bring out the laser and lily will run our huge yard in circles like it’s a track. Within a few minutes she’s winded, and she’ll sleep like a baby right after.
I will say to use this with caution. Let your dog “catch” the laser every couple times. Don’t point in their eyes, and also don’t use it all the time, otherwise they may start to chase other moving things they see around the house.
Teaching a dog a new trick requires a lot of focus and thinking. If you’re very much into training your dog new tricks, try teaching them a more complex trick. After a 30-45 minute training session, it could very well leave your pup wanting to relax.
Some old fashioned fetch/catch
Nothings beats the classic game of fetch/catch
This one we have yet to do, because everything else has worked so well for us, but we’ve heard that giving dogs outside playgrounds is also a great way to get them to burn energy. Another idea we’ve heard of is a sandbox for dogs, where you can hide toys and they find them. This can also help discourage any grass digging.
Now go out there and try these tips on your dogs! Let us know which worked best for you!