Active Dog Breeds can be challenging. Photo credit AJ_Watt

Active Breeds: The Challenge of Keeping High-Energy Dogs Engaged

Owners of active dog breeds like Border Collies, Australian Shepherds, and Labradors know that keeping their canine companions engaged isn’t just a part of training; it’s essential for their overall well-being. These breeds are known for their boundless energy and sharp minds, and without proper engagement, they can develop destructive behaviors. In this blog post, we’ll explore effective strategies to keep your high-energy dog happily engaged and mentally stimulated.

1. Understanding the Needs of High-Energy Breeds

Inherent Traits:

Active breeds often have a natural inclination towards tasks that involve physical and mental engagement. They thrive on activities that challenge them both physically and mentally. A bored Border Collie may take to chasing cars and bikes if not given a proper outlet.

The Importance of Routine:

Consistent daily routines that incorporate exercise and mental stimulation can significantly help in managing their energy levels.

2. Physical Exercise: More Than Just a Walk

Intensive Activities:

Besides regular walks, these breeds often require more rigorous activities like running, hiking, or agility training to expend their energy effectively.

Interactive Play:

Engage in interactive play sessions with toys that promote running, fetching, and jumping.

3. Mental Stimulation: Keeping the Mind Active

Training Sessions:

Regular training sessions that teach new tricks and commands are excellent for mental stimulation.

Puzzle Toys:

Puzzle toys that dispense treats can keep your dog occupied and mentally engaged for extended periods. You can find some great ideas here.

4. Socialization and Group Activities

Dog Sports:

Participating in dog sports like flyball, disc trials, or herding (for certain breeds) can provide both physical exercise and mental stimulation.


Organizing playdates with other dogs can be beneficial for social interaction and physical play. Be sure to schedule play dates with dogs who have a similar play style to your dogs.

5. The Role of Calming Techniques

Downtime is Important:

Incorporating calming activities like gentle petting sessions or quiet time is essential for balance.

Calming Toys and Music:

Using calming toys and playing soothing music can help relax an overly energetic dog. There are some great toys on the market, from snuffle mats to lick mats.

6. Diet and Nutrition

Balanced Diet:

A diet that suits their energy levels is crucial. Consult a vet to ensure your dog is getting the right nutrition to support their active lifestyle.

7. Recognizing the Signs of Overexertion

Monitoring for Fatigue:

While active breeds have high energy levels, they can still get tired. Recognizing signs of fatigue and ensuring they get enough rest is essential. Click here to learn more about too much exercise in dogs.


Managing a high-energy dog is certainly a challenge, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. By providing adequate physical exercise, mental stimulation, socialization, and rest, you can ensure your active dog leads a happy, balanced, and healthy life. Remember, every dog is unique, so it’s important to tailor these activities to suit your dog’s individual needs and preferences.