Life With The High Energy Dog

Wed May 5th, 2010 @ 12:45 pm

High Drive Dogs

We have to picture in our minds a hunting dog such as a Labrador Retriever retrieving a downed bird for his master. Or an Australian Cattle Dog working a herd of cattle taking them back to their corral. These dogs do what they were bred to do, and that is work. These dogs work hard all day and will spend a relaxing evening at home with their masters.

Now take the same two dogs out of this working environment and move them both into home living where the dogs live with owners who work all day and deal with their families all evening. Neither of these owners or dogs will have many relaxing evenings at home. The high energy levels of these dogs will eventually result in a long list of behavior problems that could frustrate the owner so much the dog will soon be looking for a new home.

Owning a high energy high prey drive dog has its good points and bad points. Owning a dog that is always ready to work can be a good thing for a person who is very active and spends a lot of time with his/her dog and finds many ways to help the dog release energy. High drive European-bred working dogs such as German Shepherds, Malinois and Dutch Shepherds are being brought in to the US by serious working dog breeders, police departments and working dog trainers because of their hardiness, sound temperaments and physical structure. Their high drives make them suitable for the work they are required to do. But is becoming more and more common to find owners who have very little knowledge of the requirements when owning such a dog. As a result, they are paying the price and finding many drawbacks to owning a dog like this.

All dogs breeds were developed with a specific purpose in mind. Acquiring a dog just for the way it looks or its image without taking the breeds characteristics into account can lead to problems.

A dog with very high drive can be very hard to live with. Destructive behavior may occur because the dog needs to release his pent up energy somehow. Destructive chewing is the most common way a dog releases energy. Digging is also a way a dog might release energy. Also you may observe bursts of energy where the dog runs in what appears to be a mad frenzy around the house, jumping over furniture, knocking over anything in its path. Dogs with a lot of stored up energy may also bark too much, jump fences or mouth human body parts.

Prevention is the best cure. Breeders of high drive dogs should carefully screen buyers to determine if they will be able to offer the dog a suitable lifestyle. These owners should have a fenced yard and plenty of time to be with and work with their dog and the physical ability to handle such a dog properly. They should also have sufficient knowledge of the breed. A wise breeder will discuss the possibility of a more suitable breed for the buyer, or even discourage dog ownership of any kind for those buyers who lack the lifestyle to even own a dog.

Problem Solving

For owners of high drive dogs that exhibit behavior problems, success depends on the owner, not the dog. Daily exercise such as long walks will calm an energetic dog. Dogs with high drive will also show signs of high prey and chase instincts. Lots of play with balls, Kongs, Frisbees and other chase toys will help to burn up energy. Involvement in obedience classes where the stress is associated with learning will use up the dog's energy. Learning to control the dog will allow owners to enjoy their dog more.

Some training facilities offer agility and tracking classes for those who are interested in using their dog's athletic skill and scenting ability. Both of which will allow the dog to burn off energy and are very enjoyable for both the dog and owner.

Picture the owner of a high drive dog at home. The owner gets up early before work to take the dog for a walk. The dog is enrolled in an obedience class where the whole family attends and watches one member handle the dog and everyone learns how to control him/her. The children play with the dog in the back yard, throwing toys for the dog to retrieve. The dog stays in a crate in the family room when no one is at home. Everyone is happy and content including the dog.