I have a one year old border collie who has kennel cough. He is vaccinated, I'm not sure how he got it, but here we are.

He is confined to the house/yard, and he is losing his mind. He normally goes to doggy daycare twice a week that sort of relaxes him, but he hasn't been able to do that since he got sick.

He plays fetch poorly, maybe for about 5 minutes max, so it hasn't helped in exercising him. I've been using a laser pointer to take the edge off, but he gets bored of that too.

We do about an hour of clicker shaping/training in the evening, which I think mellows him out a little. But not enough.

Other things I've tried:

  • Frozen Kongs - he will eat the easy stuff off the top and leave the Kong until it defrosts.
  • Bully sticks - actually pretty good, buys me about 20 minutes of free time
  • Bones - also about 20 minutes worth of entertainment at a time
  • Snuffle mat - we do this for about 30 minutes, but I don't know if it does too much.
  • "Find it" game - he doesn't seem to get the idea. He gets the easy ones and lays down.
  • Flirt pole - gets bored after about 5 minutes.
  • RC car - works great, but he barks and herds and it gets kinda loud. Plus I don't want to encourage the barking.

I am looking for ideas for entertaining a high energy dog that doesn't require me to spend all of my free time after work doing it. Games? Fun toys? I want to avoid high-calorie activities because he also isn't exercising too much.

  • Can you walk on lead and just avoid other dogs?
    – paparazzo
    Commented Nov 8, 2018 at 20:04
  • @paparazzo, I can, but walking doesn't really work for him as far as getting tired goes. We walk already, but it's really to just sniff around and do his business.It's also quite cold right now and he doesn't like going far.
    – Catsunami
    Commented Nov 8, 2018 at 20:07
  • My Pit took some time to get the "find it" game, but we kept at it and now he loves it. Perhaps you can keep trying?
    – Roflo
    Commented Nov 8, 2018 at 23:02

2 Answers 2


There is not going to be a one size fits all answer to this, as each dog is unique.

Both the question and existing answer have some good ideas, here are a few more.

Television: Animal and educational channels often have sound and pictures that some dogs find interesting

Mirror: That strange new dog that does not have a scent, can be a distraction. Be sure it is securely fastened so there are no accidents

Wildlife soundtracks: I have seen this work for short times, if you have one I would try it, but would not go out and buy one.

Stuffed animal: These can make good friends. Stay away from eyes or buttons that might get swallowed. Consider the risk (to your dog) if the stuffed animal gets eaten.

  • TV and audio are great! It messes with his brain, but he does get panicky with certain sounds (owls). It's pretty fun to watch him react actually. He loves watching agility on TV, maybe I'll just leave it on while I go out!
    – Catsunami
    Commented Nov 13, 2018 at 23:06

I have had something similar with my 2 year old GSD, she had a toe infection and had to be rested for around 3-4 weeks, which for a working line GSD is incredibly difficult, she was climbing the walls!

In all honesty he needs more, he is a working dog (he has more energy and drive than other dog breeds), he will go crazy and hyper until he can go out, he needs more than chasing a laser pointer and indoor fetch. Working dogs need a lot of mental and physical stimulation. You have a dog that was essentially bred to have a job and to work.

Do some more interesting and mentally demanding tasks, get him to use his brain. Hide and seek with treats (or you), puzzle games that dish out treats when he gets them right - things like this will mentally (and physically) wear him out. Given you say an hour only wears him out a little, this indicates he needs more. Do it for longer and a couple of times a day.

More physical things like Tug where they use their entire body to tug on something works, general obedience works too, 'speak' works too, getting your dog to bark on command is also physically demanding and will wear them out quicker.

"Find it" game - he doesn't seem to get the idea. He gets the easy ones and lays down

Things like these are probably the best you can do, make them incrementally harder and tell him to "find it", walk around the house with him, re-enforce that command as he's looking for. Do more things like this. Persevere with it.

RC car - works great, but he barks and herds and it gets kinda loud. Plus I don't want to encourage the barking.

This is because its what he is bred to do, herding. Perhaps look into local working dog clubs or trainers too that could help.

I am looking for ideas for entertaining a high energy dog that doesn't require me to spend all of my free time after work in doing so.

Working dogs command a lot of time and effort to keep them entertained, they are bred to work so they have high prey drive and energy, more so than other breeds.

  • Do you actually find that barking (speak) wears dogs out? It does nothing for mine. I know he needs a lot of stimulation, which is the reason I am asking a question here. He is also house-bound, which means herding in working dog clubs doesn't work (plus the closest one is about 2 hours away). We play with puzzle games, but he figures them out too fast. We do obedience for an hour, it is a lot of time for focused training, he needs something else, not just more of the same. I am sorry, but I didn't get any insight into new ideas from your post.
    – Catsunami
    Commented Nov 13, 2018 at 23:01
  • I do, it oddly takes a lot of physical effort for a proper bark, not a play bark. I suggested the working dog clubs as something for the future or something to get inspiration from it may be a trek to get there but it may give new ideas so you may only need 1/2 sessions. If he is figuring out the puzzle games too quickly then make them incrementally harder to solve. As I say in my post an hour once a day may not be enough, mix it up with the other suggestions I have said to make longer sessions at home
    – UIO
    Commented Nov 14, 2018 at 5:59
  • It was an hour a day for focused training (obedience stuff). I basically spend my entire evening doing something with him (in-house agility, obedience, games, etc), so to me it's not a matter of how much time I spend, but the quality of activities and looking at new ideas. "Speak" was one of the first thing he learned, but he barks a lot regardless (when he "herds"), so maybe that's why it was easy for him.
    – Catsunami
    Commented Nov 14, 2018 at 15:45
  • My shepherds can go all night too if not walked and wont stop bringing me balls to throw, things to tug etc this is what working dogs do, but the longer and more intense i make it the more it tires them. If they are not doing anything and they are still energetic, the activities aren't intense enough. As i mentioned above; tug (maybe even explore bite work), hard hide and seek/puzzle games, longer obedience, fetch etc. High intensity x time = a tired dog, and x2 for working dogs.
    – UIO
    Commented Nov 14, 2018 at 16:02

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