Dogs are well-known for being energetic with their wagging tails and their panting, but there are certain breeds that are excessively active, to say the least. There are many cases of dog owners who are so overwhelmed by the craziness of their pooches that they are unable to handle it. This is one of the reasons why some pups end up being abandoned at animal shelters because they realize they cannot live with an overactive dog.
Why Is Your Dog Hyperactive?
There are many reasons why certain dogs are too energetic. It does not always simply a resistance to listen to their humans, at times dogs are simply overwhelmed with everything around them. They have so much to see, hear and play with, including day-to-day things we tend to ignore, like the city noise, butterflies flying around and many others. This diminishes their ability to concentrate and follow commands.
Another reason for being overactive is actually the lack of exercise. Some dog breeds require a lot of exercise so that they can focus and follow their humans. In such cases, even daily walks are not enough to release all of the pent-up energy.
Humans can also lead their pets into hyperactivity when they fail to reinforce calm behavior. Being active is good, but if they reward their pups for this action, it encourages them to always act wildly. This is one of the reasons why obedience training is all the more important if you have an overactive dog.
In worse cases, hyper dogs display inappropriate biting. Beyond the inability to stay calm, they are unable to display self-control. So if you ever want to keep living with such a wild, high-energy dog, it is necessary to manage its behavior and train it to be more calm and relaxed.
What Triggers Hyperactivity?
While humans are so quick to diagnose overactive people with ADHD, this is actually not a condition that affects canines. Most of the time, hyperactivity is brought about by specific characteristics of their dog breed, lack of exercise and mental stimulation, and conditioned behavior. Unfortunately, this can lead to increased respiration and higher heart rate, poor health, and agitation. They remain in a state of stress or arousal for a longer amount of time, which is bad for their bodies.
- Jumpy dogs, or those that react to even the tiniest number of stimuli because of their constant state of stress, can be triggered by everything. Daily noises like brewing a cup of coffee can be something scary and can lead to whimpering.
- Separation anxiety also triggers the hyperactivity of canines. In some cases, dogs are traumatized by the absence of their humans that they exhibit undesirable behavior when you are gone.
- Diet also plays a role in overactive behavior of pups. Much like with kids, giving them too much sugar can lead to restlessness and wild behavior that may even lead to aggression. Other risk factors include preservatives, artificial colorings, and additives that contribute to hyperactivity. In these cases, diet change might bring about some improvements.
- A lack of daily routine may lead to confusion and frustration on the part of your canine pet. Dogs feel less anxious and unsafe when they know what to expect during the day. This can lead to undesirable and even destructive actions, so it is good to set when feeding, training, exercising happen during the day.
- In certain situations, dogs might suffer from unknown diseases like diabetes, tumors or even malnutrition that lead it to display aggression and aberrant conduct. A check-up by the vet can rule out this possibility.
Your vet or an animal behavior specialist can help identify the triggers of your pup’s overactive behavior in order to address it. You will need to describe its actions and how much exercise it has every day. You need to also include how much social interaction and playtime it has, and how you and other humans respond to its hyperactivity. In fact, how you react towards your dog’s behavior can reinforce undesirable actions, too. The trainer might also observe you and the dog at home to be able to identify the right approach to obedience training and other calming techniques required to manage your overexcited pooch.
5 Steps To Calm A Hyper Dog
1. Provide Enough Exercise
In the past, dogs would be involved in hunting or helping around the farm, which means they had a lot of time to run around and release any extra energy. Fast forward to present times, pooches live with their humans in apartments or with very restricted space. Worse, their humans are so busy with work and urban life, so they do not get enough playtime. A dog that has so much pent-up energy will find it hard to concentrate when it is being trained. This is the reason why the first step is to always step up the daily exercise.
It is not enough to just do a leisurely stroll for 10 minutes or leave your pup to run around the yard. Your pet needs to be engaged actively the entire time. One good idea is to go to a dog park or visit a friend with a pooch and a yard to allow the pets to run around and play with each other. If you have a bike or a dog treadmill, you can also exercise them safely in order to release the excess energy.
2. Use Positive Reinforcement
Sometimes, dog owners inadvertently reinforce unwanted behavior and after some time, it manifests as hyperactivity. This can happen when you give your dog attention when it is jumping on you or barking at you. It is also a mistake to feed it when it is hyper or put it on the leash when going crazy. Moreover, encouraging rough play and letting it out of the door when it scratches it can also teach your pup that such behavior is acceptable. At times, it may also be your kids that reinforce the hyperactivity when they play out of control.
The trick is to watch out for reinforcing the wrong behaviors. In certain cases, you will need to use tools like dog pens, leashes or tethers, and even doors or dog gates to teach it that specific actions are unacceptable. It is, however, important to note that dogs who suffer from separation anxiety will not take to staying in a pen easily.
3. Train The Right Behavior
Pups bloom when they are properly trained. Running around wild is not a good sign for dogs, because it makes them insecure and anxious when they enter new or undesirable situations. However, when they undergo obedience training, they trust their human to guide them on how to act and they also learn to control their impulses and anxiety.
There are various training exercises you can use on a hyperactive dog, from simply using clicks and treats for remaining calm to teaching it to sit and wait patiently for you. If your pooch is a bit older and has been used to a lack of structure and routine, training it can be a bit more difficult but it is not impossible. In such cases, you may refer to an animal trainer for tips or help to turn your dog’s hyperactive behavior around.
4. Use Aromatherapy
There are also other options for hyperactive dogs such as aromatherapy, which has been proven successful for calming them down. There is some mix of natural essences that have been designed to relax both humans and pups. For example, they contain lavender and chamomile, which are perfect for stressed or anxious pets. These can be sprayed on your clothes or bandanas specifically for the dog. Partner that with some long strokes on the back and you will be surprised at how quickly your pet calms down.
5. Use Calming Supplements
In certain situations, it might be necessary to use supplements or medications that are known to calm down hyperactive dogs. They are normally used along with behavior modification training so that the pooch is able to concentrate and perform the desired behavior. There are quite a few products out there to choose from, including homeopathic or herbal options and anti-anxiety medication for extreme cases.
While many dog owners balk at this option, it does not necessarily mean drugging your pet. Some are just dog treats that have all-natural ingredients that can calm them down. Your pet being in a state of constant stress and anxiety is tough not just for you due to the constant barking or whining, but it is also harming its body. In such situations, using calming supplements is the best solution.
It is quite common that dog owners do not notice their pets steadily becoming too hyperactive until it is too late. After all, puppies are seen to be crazy and many humans just reinforce this behavior because it is cute or funny. However, it is not good for you and nor your pet to encourage overactive behavior and therefore, it is necessary to change this as soon as possible.