The Best Games to Play With Your High-Energy Dog

dog with ball

If your pet could give the Energizer Bunny a run for his money, you’re probably in the market for ways to zap some of that zip. Make the most of playtime—whether you’re at the park or at home—with these expert tips.

Don’t skimp on walks
It’s important to make sure you’re providing your dog with enough daily exercise, says Angie Angell, owner and dog trainer at Two Dogs Inc. in Brooklyn, New York. Skimping on these outings could cause your dog to develop behavioral issues such as chewing and barking—as well as promote hyperactivity, which isn’t fun for anyone. High-energy dogs need to go out for a walk or run multiple times a day. Angell recommends 30 minutes to an hour in the morning, a shorter walk during the day (hire a walker if your schedule doesn’t allow you to walk your pet yourself), an hour walk in the evening and then another quick excursion to burn off your dog’s final fumes before bedtime.

Head outdoors
Whether you play in your backyard or at the park, choose a game that allows you to interact with your dog so that you can encourage her to bound about even more. If you’re tossing a tennis ball, chase after it, too. It will give her extra incentive to bolt after the ball. Or grab a friend or family member and play monkey in the middle, tossing a soccer ball above your dog’s head. 

Get active at home
Take the action indoors and play games in your living room. Angell recommends hiding a treat or toy and encouraging your dog to hunt it down; the mental stimulation combined with the running around will soon wipe him out. This indoor play can count toward the time you should spend exercising your dog daily, especially on a wet or very cold day.

Try toys
An over-flowing toy chest may be a sign of a spoiled pet, but it will also help keep an active dog entertained. Choose toys that offer a mental challenge, like treat dispensers, as well as bouncy rubber toys that your dog can toss around and chase after. It’s fetch—but with no effort on your part!

Go pro
Dog sports, both competitive and for fun, are gaining popularity, so you should be able to find one near you. To really tire out your dog, try an agility course. After an hour of running through tunnels and leaping over jumps, your pup is sure to be pooped. Or sign up for Rally, an obedience-driven sport that requires walking through a course and performing different commands. (Bonus: your dog will return home better behaved!)

No matter what game you choose to play with your pet, the key is to do it often. A well-exercised dog makes for a happy dog—and a happy owner.