You know one if you have one. These dogs are always on the go. They want to do be doing something and they want to be doing it NOW! They are busy bodies in training classes, a challenge on leash, and can find the constant stimulation of kennels and dog daycares overwhelming. It can seem as if these dogs are simply not made for a nine-to-five world. Your neighbors dog who calmly sun bathes while rambunctious toddlers wielding ice cream climb all over it is Toyota Corolla. Safe, steady, conservative and reliable. Your dog is a Ferrari.
Ferraris are the dog trainers dream. They are fast, intelligent, powerful, and incredibly responsive. I have one myself and she is just about the most fun dog I have every had the pleasure to work with. These dogs are also environmentally sensitive and high maintenance. They are a lot of dog and things can go wrong quickly. Here are some things to know should your companion be a canine Ferrari.
Structure is crucial. These dogs will make poor choices and think themselves into a bad place if left to their own devices. They need to know what to expect and how to operate their environment safely especially when it comes to new places and experiences. A structured environment keeps stress and uncertainty at bay.
Learning to settle down is a requirement. It may seem as if a dog with boundless energy would require a cornucopia of activities to keep them occupied; not so. More than any other dog in the whole world, these dogs desperately need to learn how to relax. Chewing on a Kong, resting quietly in a crate, or relaxing on a park bench fulfill this requirement. They need calm time awake when not receiving constant stimulation to keep them occupied.
They need to take the edge off. Some form of exercise is required to maintain sanity. There are many different ways to achieve this and often without going off-leash: canicross (jioring sports), jogging, fetch, swimming, flirt poles, lure coursing, the possibilities are endless. These dogs just need regular time to let fly and be a dog.
Engage the brain, not just the body. The above being said, constant physical exercise alone is only going to morph your dog into some sort of canine super athlete. To wear your dog without building the energizer dog, mental engagement is required. Incorporating training into exercise and providing mental enrichment with treat dispensing toys provides a nice balance.
Frustration is a factor in any learning experience. We take advantage of our dogs patience with us. Zoo keepers and exotic animal trainers know this well as a frustrated animal puts even the best trainer at risk of being seriously injured. While our dogs don’t usually maim us (despite having the tools to do so), frustration still affects learning. Even the best training methods can be a guessing game for our dogs. Stick with short sessions that break behaviors down into easy-to-learn tasks. End on a good note.
They are environmentally sensitive. Throw out the rules for how your dog is supposed to act or has acted in the past and read your dog. These dogs’ reactions change depending on how much exercise they’ve had, what stressors they’re experiencing, whether they’ve just come out of crate, car, or were on a walk. To avoid bad experiences, it is best to asses their fluid moods on the go than attempt to predict their reactions.
These tips are the foundation to success with a high-energy or working dog. Keep in mind that while these dogs can be challenging, they are worth the work if you are up to the challenge. From pet to all-star agility champion, they will bring their best to the table if you do.