The average dog is an active, high energy animal that welcomes every opportunity he can get to go outside and run, play and roughhouse. It makes sense. The dog’s wild cousin, the wolf, expends a huge amount of energy hunting prey for survival. Now think of the domestic dog as a wolf in pointer or husky “clothing” – he has all the energy of the wolf, but often no way to burn if off.
Hardwired to go
Domesticated dogs are “hardwired” to do something, whether it’s pointing, retrieving, routing out vermin, herding or tracking. They live to perform their jobs with lots of zestful energy. Given any opportunity to live out their reason for being, they are on the ready – eyes bright, emanating vitality and brimming with excitement. For example, a border collie living with a human family will happily herd everyone and everything he can, for lack of any sheep. He knows his job. But herding children and cats may not be enough. These dogs have tons of energy, especially when young.
People often have trouble managing active dogs. These canines can turn into home wreckers, anxiety biters, and even become self-destructive. Many wonderful, spirited dogs find themselves without a family or home, and end up in shelters. If they’re fortunate, someone who understands their need for lots of exercise will come along, but this doesn’t happen as much as it needs to.
Canine behaviorists are right when they tell you the adorable, out-of-control boxer you brought home nine months ago needs an outlet for all her energy, as well as obedience training, socializing, and mental challenge. Every dog needs a dose of this prescription and it’s good to know these things about a breed or breed-blend before taking any cute puppy home. However, once you’re home, it’s up to you and your energetic, four-legged companion to figure out how
to make life work for both of you.
Running on automatic
Finding an activity that fits your dog’s need for exercise, and your lifestyle, can be as easy as going to a dog park and throwing a ball. And there are many canine sports to choose from beyond the traditional hunting and herding. In fact, there’s a sport and competitive activity for every kind of dog.
Agility, flyball, coursing and earth-dog competitions are all great for high energy, high intensity dogs. These sports are not just about running, jumping and climbing; they also require focused physical skill and a level of control. Both these elements are important for energetic dogs.
Most canine sports are predicated on a dog’s natural predatory instinct. Remember, our canine companions are not many steps away from their wolf ancestors. They may not need their predation drive for survival, but it’s still there and becomes heightened by these sports. This means every fiber of their being is running on automatic during competition. Like any athlete going full out, the dog’s endorphins (an opiate-like natural hormone – endogenous morphine) can override just about everything (see sidebar below).
Training and acupressure are key
Once a repetitive injury is apparent, it usually means a long, confined recovery period. The prospect of confinement is definitely not fun for you and your usually energetic dog. In fact, it can be a miserable predicament.
The best way to avoid repetitive or traumatic injuries is to combine conscientious, progressive physical training with acupressure sessions.
Acupressure sessions following exercise can help enhance muscle strength, and increase and maintain the flexibility of tendons and ligaments. Palpating acupressure points known to help remove toxins that form in the muscles after exertion, and replenish healthy nutrients to the muscles, will greatly benefit your dog. Specific acupoints are known to send blood and nourishment to tendons and ligaments to support their suppleness.
Once your dog has cooled down, follow the acupoint chart above. Place the soft tip of your thumb or your pointer finger on an acupoint, at a 45° to 90° angle to the dog’s body. Stay on the point for a very slow count of one to 30, then move on to the next acupoint. When you’ve stimulated the acupoints on one side of your dog, repeat the procedure on the other side.
This simple session only takes minutes, and along with the proper training can help keep your high energy canine in good condition, no matter how active he is.