Got a high-energy dog? Trainer shares a great game to tire them out

Purebred female golden retriever gets excited as she refreshes her feet on cold Alpine river water
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If your dog is full of energy, it can be difficult to get the balance right between tiring them out and making them even more excited through play. 

But, fortunately, dog trainer and behaviorist Amelia Steele, known as Amelia the Dog Trainer on Instagram, has shared a game she enjoys playing with dogs to tire them out without filling them with adrenaline – and all you need are some of the best dog treats.

“All you need to do is have your dog wait while you throw out a treat,” she explains, “I like to then ask them to look at me and then I release them to go and find it.

“The searching and sniffing is great mental stimulation, and I also like to reward them after they’ve found it and they come back to me for extra recall”.

In the caption, she explains that she likes using the game to practice eye contact with her pups, as well as the ‘Wait’ command. And, she says that you can make it easier or harder depending on your own dog. 

While dogs don’t have great eyesight, their sense of smell is thousands of times more powerful than a human’s, and games like this one which tap into their excellent sniffing skills are great fun for them. 

You could begin by making it easy for your pup – you could hide the treat without throwing it, and let them watch you put it down. Then, progress to throwing the treat. 

To make it particularly difficult, you could have a friend or relative keep your dog’s attention while you throw the treat far out of eyeshot. 

Or, if you try the game indoors, keep your pup in a different room while you hide the treat. Try a particularly high-odor treat so your pup will have a better chance of finding it, even if they couldn’t see you while you hid it. 

However, it’s best not to up the difficulty level too much too soon. You don’t want your dog to get frustrated and fed up.

If you’ve got a little spare time, you could even try making a nosework obstacle course for your pup, hiding treats under overturned cardboard boxes or cushions, for example. Whether your dog is a seasoned nosework pro or just a puppy, they’re sure to enjoy it.

There are plenty of benefits to playing these sorts of nosework games with your dog. They help tire your pup out both mentally and physically, build their confidence, and help strengthen the bond between canine and owner. 

Whether you’re on your way back from a walk and you’d like to tire your pup out that little bit extra, or they’ve just got more energy than you know what to do with, this game is ideal. 

Adam England
Freelance Writer

Adam is a freelance journalist covering pets, lifestyle, health and culture, and he has six years' experience in journalism. He was senior editor at, and has written for The Independent, GoodToKnow and Healthline

He's also spent the last few years studying towards undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in journalism. While a cat person at heart, he's often visiting his parents' golden retriever, and when he's not writing about everything pets he's probably drinking coffee, visiting a cat cafe, or listening to live music.