Tips and Tricks for Training High-Energy Pups
Work with a professional dog trainer
The number one tip I have for all dog owners is to find a reputable dog trainer. While working with a local trainer in-person is more ideal, there are also some fantastic dog trainers that do virtual training. It is important to understand that when you meet with a trainer they are not really training your dog, they are training you to train your dog. The information you can learn from a professional is truly invaluable and so helpful to start your relationship with your dog off on the right foot. Remember, dogs don’t ‘speak human’ so we have to learn to communicate with them efficiently and effectively. In addition, we also have to learn to understand them as they communicate with us. Dogs primarily communicate through body language, so understanding what your dog’s body language is saying in a variety of situations is vital. Communication is the foundation for all training so having a clear system will set you up for success as you progress and grow with your dog. Private lessons are the best way to get personalized training and the most information in a short amount of time. Group classes can also be a great option; they are often more affordable and provide the opportunity for your dog to interact with other humans and dogs, and you to observe and learn from these interactions.
Figure out what motivates your dog
Some dogs have an inherent desire to work and learn, other dogs need a little motivation. Either way, rewarding your dog for good behavior is a great place to start in your training journey. In order to reward your dog you need to understand what motivates them or is rewarding to them. This may be: food, a ball, a frisbee, a tug toy, physical affection or just a very excited tone of voice. To put this in perspective, think about it like this: some people go to work everyday because they are rewarded with a paycheck, other people do it for the promise of paid vacation time and other people go to work everyday because they love what they do. Everyone is different, if you are trying to reward your dog with food but they are not motivated by food you will not make much progress. Your motivation tool will be somewhat of a bribe in the early training days; however, as your dog understands the commands and expectations it will turn into a reward that they seek out by completing known behaviors.
Combine physical and mental exercise
To reach your dog’s full potential, especially in a high-energy breed, you will want to tap into their body and their mind. My favorite forms of physical activity are: off leash hikes/runs/bike rides, long walks on leash, canicross, bikejoring, fetch and tug. My favorite forms of mental exercise are: puzzle toys, frozen treats (Kongs, West Paw Toppl, Lick Mats), canine conditioning, learning new commands and impulse control exercises. You can absolutely combine them by practicing obedience and impulse control while running, hiking or biking. You can also make your routine walks more exciting by alternating between having freedom to sniff , walking in a heel position and asking for obedience commands. I recommend a combination of both physical and mental activity every day for high-energy pups. You will set yourself up for success if you meet their physical and mental needs before expecting calm behavior in the house, especially in a younger dog.
Dogs are very intelligent beings, especially high-energy breeds that were bred to work. Their brains are programmed to have a job which means they will create their own job, like chewing on your baseboards, if you don’t give them one. High energy breeds will strive to find loopholes and push boundaries so having clear rules and expectations is a must, but being consistent with them is even more important. Dogs generally aim to please their owners which means they will try to predict what you are going to do before you do it. This is both a complement and an insult! But, it is important to stick to your rules and enforce their known commands and manners regardless of how cute their guessing attempts are.
Prioritize training that fits your lifestyle
One of the biggest mistakes dog owners make is training things that look cool but are not functional to living the best life possible with your dog. While training fun tricks is a fantastic form of mental stimulation for your dog it shouldn’t be your priority early on. Teach critical behaviors first and have fun with party tricks later. If you own a high energy dog, one of the best things you can teach them is a solid recall. This will give you the ability to provide them with significantly more physical exercise because they can enjoy off leash freedom. Another extremely valuable training skill is polite leash walking so you can enjoy long walks and hikes together. When you get your dog you should picture what your ideal lifestyle with that dog is and prioritize training the behaviors you need to reach that point.
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