This article was reviewed by professional dog trainer Shelby Semel, an advocate of Positive Reinforcement Dog Training.
Everyone has that one friend that exercises like humanity depends on it. And everyone has that other friend that would rather take the elevator up one floor than touch the stairs. Sometimes that friend is your dog. Even if that dog is a Dingus.
The difference between your friend and your Dingus dog, is that your friend can probably be coaxed into doing what you want, but your 40lb Bulldog might not want to run that 5k with you, no matter how much beer you have to offer.
When bringing a new dog into your home, your energy levels should never be overlooked. Finding a dog whose energy level matches yours is important for both of your sanities, but it’s also pretty hard. For instance, when I got my dog, she was 8 weeks old and slept 27 hours a day. Now, she’s ready to party at any given moment.
Why do dogs have different energy levels in the first place?
Breeding. The dog breeds we know today are the result of thousands of years of artificial selection. Dogs have been bred to serve specific purposes, this is why breeds are often divided sporting, herding, companion, sledding, hunting and guard “types.”
High energy levels are more prevalent in some dog types than others, it’s in their genes. However, there are deviations. In an article about dog hyperactivity in The Whole Dog Journal, dog trainer Pat Miller mentions she has a high-energy Basset Hound, a breed that is generally laid back and lazy.
How can I make sure our energy levels will match from the get go?
Although it’s a safe guess that a Husky will have more energy to burn than a Great Dane, relying on breed alone isn’t enough to determine a balance. And when adopting, it’s difficult to get a real sense of a dog’s energy level by visiting it in a single environment, the shelter. 100% certainty isn’t guaranteed, so adapting to the dog’s energy level is key.
How do I adapt to my dog’s energy level?
Jake Buvula from 3 Lost Dogs points out that the first step to living with a high energy dog without losing your mind is acceptance. His perspective is simple: your dog is just a genius who really wants to have fun with you, and by fun he means a ton of exercise and mental stimulation.
Dr. Becker from Healthy Pets says that although there’s a clear distinction of energy levels amongst breeds, even the laziest require daily exercise and play. She also notes that it’s easy to confuse low energy for boredom, and sometimes dogs just need motivation to get moving.
Taking your high-energy pup out for a walk or jog, or a trip to the dog park go a long way, and the options to hire a walker or to take your pup to doggy day care are there. After all, a high-energy pup with no place for that energy to go might be more likely to bark, jump, nip or chew.
Low-energy dogs may take less adapting on your end, but there are still ways to make sure they’re getting the (little) exercise they need. They’re happy with a few walks a day, and maybe a quick game of of hide and seek or chess (yes, they can play chess). But the most important thing to remember is to keep your dog healthy and happy, regardless of how much working out she wants to do.