Do you have a dog who never slows down like the energizer bunny? Depending on the breed of dog, a high level of energy continuing past puppyhood may actually be considered normal. Every dog is an individual with their own personality. However, it is common for dogs to retain some characteristics of their breed or background of breeds, high energy being a common characteristic among individual dogs of the same breed.
For example, Australian Shepherds have high energy because they were bred to herd sheep all day, which would be exhausting if they did not have a naturally high level of energy. This means most Australian Shepherds retain this higher level of energy well into adulthood. Keep in mind that every dog is an individual; different Aussies may calm down more at different ages, but some may maintain a high level of energy into their senior years.
However, owning a high energy dog is manageable when done properly and responsibly. By providing your dog with daily exercise, mental stimulation, training, care and affection, you can offer him or her the “job” they need to feel fulfilled and calm.
Why Is My Puppy So Crazy?
Puppies of every breed, even breeds that are considered to be lower energy, will have more energy than adult dogs. They are young and have a lot to explore, which combined with the fact that they take lots of power naps, keeps their batteries charged for the day’s adventures.
According to Sit Means Sit Dog Training, while this energy tends to begin to decrease around a dog’s first (1st) or second (2nd) birthday, this varies in individual dogs. However, there are factors that impact the milestone of energy decrease such as:
- Breed. Some breeds were bred to have a high energy level while others were bred to have a low energy level.
- Size. Smaller dogs reach maturity faster than larger dogs, which means a smaller breed of dog may calm down sooner than a larger breed.
- Gender. Female dogs tend to reach maturity sooner than male dogs, which means many female dogs calm down at a younger age than male dogs.
When Do Adult Dogs Finally Calm Down?
According to Purina, puppies have the highest levels of energy from birth to twelve (12) months of age, then begin to lose some of this puppy energy around one (1) to two (2) years of age. By age three (3), you will likely notice your dog has settled into their individual normal level of energy.
Why Do Some Dogs Never Calm Down?
According to the American Kennel Club (AKC), depending on your dog’s breed, their energy level may not decrease very much with their age. Dogs who were bred to have jobs such as breeds in the AKC’s working group or the AKC’s herding group have high energy levels, as they would need that energy to perform the jobs they were bred for.
Breeds that fall into these categories will retain their high energy well into late adulthood, and in some circumstances, even into their golden senior years. However, many dogs that are working or herding breeds tend to slow down around their eighth (8th) year of life.
That said, you should be prepared to offer your high energy breed the exercise, training and mental stimulation that they need indefinitely, since you cannot know for sure when an individual dog will calm down.
Researching the energy level and care needs of any dog you are considering adding to your family is crucial. Dogs are commitments of ten (10) or more years, and you need to be sure that you can offer your potential pet a happy, healthy, and life long home.
How Can I Get My Dog To Be Calm?
A dog who is calm is happy because he or she is fulfilled by performing a job that has helped drain some of their energy. This means a calm dog is a tired dog, and a tired dog is a happy dog. There are many ways to help a high energy dog burn off enough energy to be calm, such as:
Daily exercise is crucial for high energy dogs. According to trainer Cesar Milan, a brisk walk is a good way to burn off some of an active dog’s energy.
Further, there are many benefits to walking your dog daily besides burning off their energy, such as:
- It offers a bonding opportunity for you and your dog.
- It helps you and your dog get daily exercise, contributing to both of your overall health.
- It offers an opportunity to work on training in public places with distractions.
- It offers socialization opportunities if you meet another friendly dog. Be sure to always ask the owner before allowing your dog to approach another dog.
What different types of exercise can you try?
- Dog Park or Day Play
- Pulling a Wagon
- Walking/Hiking With A Weighted Vest (only for adult dogs; be mindful of how much weight you have your dog carry based on their own weight)
Consider what you do all day and what your dog does all day. If you were crated for hours while your person was at work, you would want to do something interesting and fun when they arrived home too!
The good news is that providing mental stimulation is easier to provide than most people think. Here are examples of good mentally stimulating actives for dogs that can be done at home:
- Agility, which involves a dog going through an obstacle course. This is a great activity to do at home with an easy to store agility kit. If you are new to agility, the book The Beginner’s Guide to Agility is a good place to start.
- Tracking, which involves a dog following a scent trail. This can easily be done at home by ordering a training scent.
- If you had a long day the office, a simple option could be offering your dog a food puzzle or playing a game together.
Should you want to go up a level to offer more stimulation, there are other activities that can be done in more formal settings such as:
- Dock diving which involves a dog jumping into a pool after a favorite toy.
- Coursing, which is when a dog chases a lure around a course designed for dogs.
- Earth dog, which tests a dog’s rodent hunting instincts without hurting rodents. This is usually done by terriers.
- Herding, which involves herding live stock. Generally this is done by breeds in the AKC’s herding group, as other breeds do not have the instinct to herd live stock.
Giving your active dog a job is a great way to provide an outlet for his or her energy. To give your dog a job, think of all the ways you can include him or her as you go about your day.
This can be as simple as asking them to “come help” you as you walk around the house doing chores, obedience training sessions, or helping you dig holes for plants in your garden, etc. Be sure to include walks, mental stimulation, and training; all of these activities are also considered a “job” in a dog’s mind.
According to Rover, high energy dogs are usually not satisfied with the simple daily walk and play time that satisfies low energy dogs. Basic obedience training is crucial for high energy dogs and allows you to redirect a dog’s energy to an appropriate outlet wherever you are.
For example, if your dog becomes very excited that company has come to your home, commanding your dog to do tricks for the guests or commanding them to be in a down/stay to prevent jumping makes them think and gives them a job to do.
Many people underestimate training, but there are many benefits to training, such as:
- Training helps you and your dog bond.
- Well behaved dogs are welcome more places; by having a well trained dog you can take your dog with you when you go out more often.
- Training helps you keep your dog safe in emergency situations, such as preventing him or her from running into the street to get to you, or making him or her stop eating something toxic.
- Training makes your dog very adoptable in the event something were to happen to you.
An excellent goal is going past basic obedience training to help your dog achieve the status of Canine Good Citizen (CGC). This prestigious title is the equivalent of a doggy master’s degree; it means your dog is very well behaved.
If you want to advance past not only basic obedience training but also CGC status, consider working with your dog to achieve therapy dog status. Therapy sessions can provide great mental stimulation for your dog and offer a great service to the community.
Dogs are very social creatures who need affection from their families, but they also need boundaries to learn good behavior. The right kind of attention helps reinforce the behavior you want your dog to have according to trainer Cesar Milan.
If your dog is bouncing off the walls, ignore him or her until they calm down. When your dog behaves calmly how you want him or her to, then offer attention to reinforce that good behavior.
If you feel that your dog’s energy level is not normal, a veterinary visit is a good place to begin determining the cause of the energy. Some medical conditions may cause an increase in energy, or your dog may just be naturally energetic; a veterinarian can help you understand the source of your dog’s energy.
Be sure to have your dog examined by a veterinarian preventatively on a regular basis, as well as in response to any abnormalities that you may notice to maintain optimal health.
Having a high energy dog requires more intentional care than a low energy dog needs, such as ensuring your dog receives daily exercise and mental stimulation. However, providing this care is very manageable and helps you build a strong bond with your dog. Be sure to thoroughly research any breed of dog you are interested in before bringing one home to ensure that you feel prepared to meet his or her energy and care needs.