Skip to Content

How to Tire Out Your High-Energy, Hyper Dog

My dog Ace was super lazy, and I loved that about him.

Ace was perfectly fine with a 20-minute walk each day, and he didn’t seem to mind if we missed a day or two. He was a nice balance for me, because I tend to get obsessive about exercise.

Of course, a lot of dogs require much, much more exercise than Ace.

My pup Remy seems to have explosive energy.

He continues to shock my senior cat and I every day as he continues to just go-go-go!

So, I reached out to some owners of “supercharged” dogs and asked how they manage all that energy.

How to tire out a hyper dog

How to tire out your hyper dog

How to tire out a dog – lots of exercise – a walk just isn’t enough

Mort the kelpie mix

Jen deHaan says she has yet to completely wear out her dog Mort.

“I did manage to tire him a little after 24 hours of flyball competition in a single weekend,” she said. “Almost.”

If left to his own devices Mort would probably run and play until he collapsed, according to deHaan.

“I’ve taken him out to a regional park with a lake and hills to run up and down, and he swam and ran full speed for over three hours,” she said.

“He rested for the 45-minute car ride home, and as soon as we got inside he found a ball and was ready to sprint around the house again.”

Read more about Mort and deHaan at DOGthusiast.

Alfie the Entlebucher mountain dog

“There is no way on this earth that I could tire him out by leash walking alone,” said Linda Liebrand about her dog Alfie.

She said she thinks of him as a small nuclear plant or a self-charging battery.

“I take him for a long walk, using up his batteries. He sleeps for an hour or two, recharging, and when he wakes up he’d happily do the walk all over again!”

She said she tries not to miss walks with Alfie because he would likely turn into a really stressed and poorly mannered dog.

Border collies Roxy and Summit

Bonnie Joy Dewkett and her husband are the owners of two dogs, Roxy and Summit (pictured).

“We are not either dog’s first family, as they were both given up previously by people who couldn’t take the activity level,” she said.

She takes her dogs walking, running or hiking on average about 15 miles per week.

We highly recommend running with a hands-free leash and a sport dog harness from Mighty Paw. This system allows your dog to pull you and gives him a great workout!

Mia the pitbull/Lab mix

Natalie Maniscalco adopted her dog Mia from the Bidewee animal shelter in Manhattan.

Her 5-year-old dog has slowed down a bit these days, but she used to exercise Mia for at least an hour a day. This would include running, walking and throwing a ball.

Another trick she uses to tire out Mia is to play tug of war. She said Mia likes to pull, shake and twist at a rope or other toy.

See more dog exercise tips here.

How to tire out a hyper, high energy dog

How to tire out a dog mentally

Training, dog sports and other mental challenges

On her walks with Alfie, Liebrand (pictured right) tries to vary the locations as much as she can, as that adds to her dog’s mental stimulation. 

She also tries to build in a variety of fun games and training. For example, she:

  • Finds spots to do some “urban agility” such as getting Alfie to jump up on a park bench, balance on a low brick wall, sit on a rock, etc.
  • Plays games of fetch on land or in water.
  • Works on obedience skills such as heeling, coming when called, etc.
  • Hides toys and treats and plays “find it.”

She and Alfie also participate in nose work classes, which she said is a brilliant activity for high-energy dogs.

Mort and deHaan are also involved in different activities such as flyball and disc dog, and deHaan suggests other dog owners look into dog sports as well.

“These activities help you develop a strong bond with your energetic dog and keeps him content during down-time,” she said.

Finding an off switch – teaching the dog when play is over

Liebrand and deHaan stressed that if you have a high-energy dog, you must teach him a command to signal play is over, for example “finished.”

“It really is the best command in the world as it teaches your dog when play time is over,” Liebrand said.

She taught Alfie the command by saying “finished” when she wanted playtime to end. Then she would give him a treat and walk away.

“The dog will quickly learn that playtime is over when you say so,” she said.

I actually use a similar command with Ace – “that’s enough!” – to signal when fetch is over.

See my post: How to teach your dog when play is over

More tips for people who recently adopted a high-energy dog

Make time for exercising your dog

If you’ve recently adopted a hyper dog, the best thing to do is take the time to tire him out, according to Dewkett. It will make your life so much easier!

“If you can work out with them first thing in the morning, even better,” she said.

And for anyone thinking of getting a high-energy breed, Liebrand said if the dog books say the breed may need an hour of daily exercise, remember that a puppy or young dog of that breed will have even more energy.

Puzzle toys to tire out a dog mentally

Dewkett recommends puzzle-type toys throughout the day, which is what she gives her border collies when she’s in meetings and can’t pay attention to her dogs as much as she’d like.

Make sure you’re ready

For deHaan, high-energy dogs are incredibly fun and worth the extra work in training and activity, but they’re not for everyone.

“Make sure that if you choose to adopt a dog like this you’re ready for a bit of an extra time commitment when it comes to keeping him or her busy and content,” she said.

Do you have a high-energy dog? How do you tire out your dog?

Let me know in the comments!

How to tire out a hyper dog

Previous
Are Frontline and other flea prevention products bad for dogs?
Next
Reasons to adopt a senior dog

Cynthia Chagin

Saturday 6th of June 2020

I run a dog boarding business in my home. One of my first dogs was a Husky puppy...she was a handful! But I thought of a brilliant idea that kept her busy for HOURS. I filled a plastic bag with water, a tire toy and long chew treat and froze it into one large solid block of ice. I left a tiny bit of the toy and treat poking through the ice so she'd be motivated to work on it and she did and it kept her cool in the summer. She loved it and it saved my sanity.

Meg Sheridan

Sunday 6th of October 2019

I have a 1.5 year Belgian Malinois. She is high energy but not insane like some Mals. I tire her out by playing frisbee. She catches them in mid-flight. It did take awhile to make her a frisbee dog though. She only likes the HyperPet frisbees. We do this 2x a day. Another activity that is great fun - monkey in the middle. My daughter plays softball so we just play catch in the yard and the dog runs like a nut. I keep a squeak ball in my pocket that I "drop" so she stays interested. A great game for a rainy day - tug! I use a bit pillow and she tires pretty quickly. For mental exercise, we compete in Nosework so we are training 5x a week. This really helps drain some energy too.

Amy

Tuesday 1st of October 2019

I’ve got two Weimaraners. Drax 1 1/2 and Elle 7mos now. They are the 4th & 5th weims I’ve owned over my lifetime. They rarely settle down unless I’m in the kitchen trying to cook. In which case they are sprawled so I constantly step over. They run (separately) with me in the morning, walk evenings together and trips to the dog park. Even so- they are constant movement. I have peace when they are crated (which they do well). They will settle more as they age (their “off” switch will last a bit longer), but as long as they aren’t destructive, jumping on people or otherwise running amuck I just have learned to roll with the fact they generally just can’t sit still. But, I knew what I signed on for so to speak. I do love their couch potato mode- although rare:)

Lindsay Stordahl

Tuesday 1st of October 2019

Haha! Oh boy do I understand! Having two young weims would be extra challenging! Or maybe they entertain each other!

Sue

Wednesday 27th of March 2019

My last dog was one person dog done what he should lost him last June. Sadie is 4 yr old Yorkie high energy but a runner if don’t stay on a leash. Adopted her sweet & loving but loves to play never runs down. Take her out often to potty but by time she gets out other things anything moving she goes after,so her mind is everywhere. If she potty she get a treat when inside. But we’ve had so many rainy days it’s set us back. So we’re in & out to potty but she don’t waits till come back in. How do I get this back on course.

JMFS

Thursday 28th of March 2019

I hear you, Sue! We have a 1-yr old we adopted last April who sometimes goes out, does her business, comes right back in. Other days she's all over the yard and doesn't pay one lick of attention. Sometimes her stray dog days take over and she's her own woman. :D

To supplement the advice you've already received, here's what we do:

One thing I've started doing is taking the treats outside with me in a container that I can shake to make noise. More often than not she'll be all business if she sees that treat container, but again, other days she has to explore Everything and stretch her legs. On those days I shake the treat jar and call her. It works 85% of the time. 15% she's simply got too much pent up energy to expend. Those days she goes out on a 50 ft lead so she can romp a bit, but I can get her to come in when it's time.

I've come to learn that brain games help immensely with selective hearing. She's fond of the "Find It" game where I hide Zuke's Minis all over the house (they're only 2 calories each so they're great for training), or I'll put a piece of jerky in her Kong. I work from home and I spend my breaks playing games with her. Three Cup Monte is one where I have three cups and I hide a treat under one. She has to figure out which one. Nina Ottosson toys work well for tiring out her brain, as do toys with other stuffed toys hidden inside - I have one that's a plush tree with holes in it and I have 6 stuffed squirrels that I put inside that tree. She then has to pull those out, under supervision or she might tear up the toys - same goes for the Nina Ottosson toys. After 3 - 6 rounds she's usually relieved of that excess energy. Training of any kind counts towards brain exercise. I have a flirt pole that I use to train Leave and Drop. She goes gaga over that thing and she'll chase it like a cat does a toy on a string. That tires her out right proper!

Our older dog is a 10 lb Dachshund and she Loves nose work. She's gentle with blankets (doesn't tear them up) so I hide her Zuke's inside a big blanket. Dachshunds enjoy burrowing and have excellent noses so this game entertains her greatly. She'll dig into the blanket, moving it with her nose and scooching herself further and further into it to get those little nibblets. She's riddled with arthritis so her mobility is limited, which makes this a fun game for her. Burrowing doesn't seem to bother those joints as much as having to walk around the house to find treats.

Then there are those times when she gets free play. We have half an acre fenced for her to zoom around and on some breaks I let her out just to satiate her need to sniff, romp, and run.

I tune her in to the cue by putting her in a stay, then I move away and call her. When she reaches me she gets a treat. Rinse and repeat. This is where those low calorie treats come in handy. I feed her a little less food on training days to make up for it if we do a long training session.

Lastly, my trainer says, "you have to be more interesting than the environment." That's a challenge with 8 squirrels in our yard at any given time! On those days I keep on hand high value treats such as chicken, jerky, doggy oreos, homemade pumpkin and honey cookies, Zuke's links, bread . . . anything that makes her drool. It's taken nearly a year and she's not cured of her squirrel chasing impulse yet, but she's improved immensely.

I hope some of those ideas help! A tired pup is a good pup, and it's not always physical exercise they need. The smarter the dog, the more brain games they need! When Gertrude is properly exercised she's a far better listener.

Lindsay Stordahl

Thursday 28th of March 2019

Hi Sue, I'm sorry you lost your other dog last June. For potty training, I would give her a treat immediately when she goes while you're still outside, not after you come in. Here are a few articles on potty training that might help. It does take more time and consistency then some people realize. I'm not sure how long you've been training Sadie, but hang in there!

https://www.thatmutt.com/2012/12/19/how-to-potty-train-an-adult-dog/

https://www.thatmutt.com/2016/06/13/how-long-potty-train-puppy/ (I know this is about puppies but still might help you brainstorm)

Serina J Rieckman

Friday 8th of February 2019

Don't know if anyone mentioned "backpack", but handy even for small dogs!