I live with three high-energy dogs, and twice a day, every day, rain or shine, we walk 1.5 miles. This is one of the ways that I survive living with high-energy farm dogs without losing my mind. I have always owned high-energy dog breeds, and I cannot imagine not walking my dogs. Arizona state law requires dogs to be on leash any time they are off your property, and since the desert is full of hazards – rattlesnakes, coyotes, cactus, scorpions, Colorado River Toads – I leash my dog when I walk.
All three of my dogs are rescues, which means that they have issues that we are working through. For my Dalmatian, Rylee, and my Australian Cattle Dog, Lefty, pulling on the leash is a real problem, especially if we encounter a coyote. I developed tendonitis in my elbow in part due to their pulling, so I decided to do something about it. While we are working on the obedience part of leash walking, I bought each of them a no-pull harness to minimize the strain on my arm. After much research and a few failed purchases, I chose Rabbitgoo no-pull harnesses (buy it here), and they have completely changed our walks.
My high-energy farm dogs crave routine. Lefty, my one-year-old heeler, and Sadie, my 12-year-old Australian Shepherd, are both very smart, and if we get off our routine, they are prone to anxiety. (See How to Live with High-Energy Farm Dogs Without Losing Your Mind for all of my tricks for keeping them mentally and physically stimulated – and myself sane!) Rylee, my six-year-old Dalmatian, is more laid back, but she participates in our evening routine too.
All the dogs that have come into my life have been rescues. While I support responsible breeders, my heart is in rescuing. Since all the dogs I have adopted have been adults, they have a variety of issues that require training to fix.
I am a huge believer in using positive reinforcement training. On rare occasion I use treats, but the vast majority of the time I reward my dogs with touch and verbal praise.
However, some situations are so dangerous that my dogs need to know immediately that a behavior is not allowed. In these situations, I do train with a shock collar – set at the lowest effective level – for my dog’s safety. These are the four circumstances where I train my dogs with shock collars.
With shorter days and cooler temperatures, my farm dogs are spending more time inside. My dogs have always been allowed in the house, and this was fine when I had low-energy couch potato dogs. Now my pack consists of three high-energy dogs, and, quite honestly, they drive me batty when they are inside. They bounce off the furniture. They wrestle with each other. They bring me toy after toy after toy and want me to play with them all day long. We go for a 1.5-mile walk morning and evening, but that is not enough to bleed off the excessive energy.
High-energy smart dogs are the hardest to live with because they need mental stimulation as well as physical exercise. After much trial-and-error, I have finally come up with a solution. This is how I survive living with three high-energy dogs without losing my mind.
If your farm dogs are anything like mine, they are into everything, and sometimes the exciting things they find to roll in make them itchy. Itching can progress from slightly annoying to the point where it interferes with your dog’s life and can even become quite painful. Consult with your vet first, and then try some of these natural remedies to relieve the itching.
Welcome! I've been a freelance writer since 2002 and have numerous horse-related articles published in print and online publications. I have a Bachelor of Science degree from Rocky Mountain College with a major in Equestrian Studies and a minor in Business Management. My current business ventures include High Plains Arena and real estate investing.