All About Marie

Animal Files columnist of the Orange County Register from 1992-2016; Emmy Award winning producer of Educational Television Programming; Host of "The Pet Place Radio Show" heard world-wide at; click the player below to listen. Producer/Director/Editor/Co-host of "The Pet Place TV Show" during the 19 years it ran on KDOC TV in Los Angeles and Orange Counties; Wife, Mother of five kids, Grandmother of two baby boys and one baby girl, and pet parent of two cats, one dog, many fish, and a cockatoo.

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Hi Energy Dog

Dear Marie.
Our 1 ½ year old Aussie Mix (Dusty) is a regular power-pack of energy. I walk him in the morning before I leave to work. I walk him during my lunch break (I go home for lunch). When I get home from work, I walk him again. And finally, before I go to bed, I walk him one more time. You’d’ think that would be plenty of exercise…I’m certainly wiped out from all the walking. But he’s still rearing to go. In fact, five minutes after getting home, if I pick up his leash to move it to a drawer, he goes nuts thinking we’re going out again. I feel as though I’m not offering him enough activities. He doesn't get into trouble while I’m away. In fact, he’s a beautifully mannered dog. I got him from a rescue about 4 months ago and he has settled right in. He’s affectionate, perfectly house-trained, and good with strangers and other animals. I couldn't ask for a better dog. But I think he could ask for a better human because I know I’m not giving him what he needs. He seems restless…always looking at the door, wanting to go and do.

Any ideas about what he needs?

Dear Katie,
Australian Shepherds are highly intelligent working dogs that not only need physical activities, but intellectual activities as well. It seems like you are taking him on plenty of walks, so don’t be so hard on yourself. I would recommend, however, replacing one or two of those walks each week with some time at a dog park, throwing him a ball there, or just letting him run around with some new canine buddies. Since he’s good with other animals this would be great fun for him. And he can run a lot faster and harder with four-legged companions than he can with you!

Though doggy-day-care facilities are a little pricey, many have a treasure trove of wonderful activities for their furry charges. If you have the budget for it, this type of facility may be perfect for your high-energy critter. Make sure you tour several facilities to be certain they have a safe and healthful environment and that dogs aren't just put in kennels all day, or at all. An ideal facility will have several play areas with different activities to stimulate a dog’s mind. Some even offer canine-massage and grooming services, to name a few of the frilly benefits.

Keep in mind that your dog is a herding dog. Dusty would probably love the opportunity to have herding training. Believe it or not, right here in Southern California, you can enroll your dog in actual herding classes. This would be a great activity for a dog like Dusty. If you prefer doing things together—keep in mind you’ll be even more wiped out from these activities than you are from your walks—then I would encourage you to get involved with a dog agility or flyball club. Do a quick Internet search to find one of these organizations close to where you live.

The great thing about joining a club is that in addition to Dusty having plenty of challenging activities, you’ll meet lots of other folks who have dogs that are just as energetic as yours and have no doubt come up with some great solutions for working out some of that extra oomph. It’s a wonderful way to network and become a better dog-person. If you really get into agility or flyball, you can start entering competitions and make a hobby out of it. Dusty will have a great time and you’ll never feel like you aren't doing enough to give your dog an active and happy life.

Eventually, all dogs start slowing down—some sooner than others—and will not require quite as much high-intensity play. So, if you opt just to do the dog park a few times a week because you do not have time for the clubs or training classes, or the budget for doggy-day-care, that will no doubt be fine. Get your dog a few, high-quality, interactive toys and change them up every few days to keep his mind stimulated…and keep up the good walks. You’re doing a great job.

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