If your vet has ever told you to keep your young active dog from running or jumping for a while after a surgery (spay, neuter, ACL surgery or others) you know how hard that is. You would think that the day after a surgery, your dog would want to rest. In many cases, however, your dog seems to think s/he is just fine and should be able to get back to normal activities.

I wish I felt that good the day after surgery! Even though they might think they are fine, we know that their activities do need to be restricted while they recuperate. Easier said than done in many cases. So what do you do when your dog still has all of his/her normal energy but is not able to actively expend it?

In part, it will depend on how restricted the dog is. If your dog is required to move as little as possible, which means no walks except out to potty, then it’s even tougher. For those required not to run or jump but can go for leisurely walks, at least that helps. If that’s the case, then I would do plenty of leisurely walks, making sure the dog doesn’t get too excited and try to jump or run. If they do, then work in some mental stimulation on your walk to help keep things calmer. Incorporating some training into your walk can help. Adding in some nosework can help calm things as well. For some dogs, their noses are already buried in the ground along the walk. If not, bring along some tasty treats, and occasionally toss a few ahead of your dog and say “find it!” Allowing them to sniff out the tasty treats can slow them down and help burn energy by using their sense of smell.

If your dog is on further restrictions, or if your dog just needs help burning more energy than walks can take care of, then finding other ways to burn off energy is crucial to your dog’s recovery and your sanity!

Even with dogs who have no restrictions placed on them, it can be difficult to wear out a high energy dog. That was Romeo when he was a youngster. I didn’t have enough hours in the day to physically wear him out. So for Romeo, I did the same thing during his puppyhood and adolescence as I did with Zuzu during her week of recovery from her spay surgery recently. We did lots of training and worked with lots of food puzzles. Scavenger hunts or find it games helped as well. In other words, we burned off lots of MENTAL energy rather than physical energy. It’s just as taxing on them – if not more so. If we can wear out their brains, then their bodies will follow.

They might still prefer to run and jump, but if you can tire them out in other ways, it certainly will help you get through this challenging time. If you’re going through it now, or will be soon, keep these tips in mind. And good luck!!