How to Calm a Hyper Dog?
Dogs really have a knack for capturing hearts. There is just something about them that makes a human heart flutter. The joy you can get from simply watching a dog is unmatched.
But when their energy is off the roof, and you can’t stop them from doing things that could lead to complete disaster, it’s a different story. It’s bothersome to watch dogs jumping up and down at inappropriate times, stealing food, scratching furniture, and digging holes.
Do not worry! There are several ways to calm a hyperactive dog. In this article, we'll cover the causes of canine hyperactivity and guide you towards natural remedies that have been proven effective.
How Can You Tell if Your Dog Is Hyperactive?
A dog brimming with energy may be normal, especially if they are young. Puppies like to move around (and rarely listen!). Certain breeds are more active than others.
In some cases, overactivity is due to a condition called hyperkinesis. It is similar to Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in humans.
Below are the symptoms of hyperkinesis. But, we have to remember to ask for advice from the experts. A veterinarian will be able to provide an accurate diagnosis.
- Frantic activity - Very energetic and wild, your dog may experience bursts of energy. Running around with a wild feral look in their eyes is not unusual.
- Impulsive behavior - Lacking self-control, your dog can be over-excited and impatient to get what they want. They might also get aggressive and snappy at times.
- Inability to relax - Your dog may be uncomfortable and nervous, even in a familiar territory. They might always seem on edge and exhibit fearful body language like a tucked tail.
- Overreaction to regular stimuli - Food, noises, and people can send your dog over the edge. Their reactions may be sudden, intense, and hard to control. When they see something they want, they will do everything to have it.
- Short attention span - Your dog might have trouble paying attention, especially during training. They can be inattentive and hard to reach. No matter how fun you make their training sessions, they might turn away at the soonest distraction.
- Physiological symptoms - Elevated heart rate and heavy breathing (even at rest) are signs of hyperkinesis.
Hyperkinesis is a congenital condition that must be diagnosed and treated by a veterinarian. It requires expert guidance, along with prescription drugs and behavior modification.
Why Are Some Dogs Hyperactive?
Sometimes, it’s hard to differentiate hyperkinesis from dogs with naturally high energy levels. Other factors that affect a dog’s energy include genetics, personality, anxiety, external stimuli, and physical activity.
Research is still exploring the connection between a dog’s behavior and their genes. However, we can’t deny that certain breeds have their specialties. Some are known to be smart, sporty, sweet, and cute. It’s important to choose the breed that matches your personality and lifestyle.
Knowing your dog’s breed can also be helpful. According to the AKC, the following are the 15 most hyperactive breeds:
- Pembroke Welsh Corgi
- Russell Terrier
- Shetland Sheepdog
- Siberian Husky
- Labrador Retriever
- Border Collie
- Golden Retriever
- Australian Shepherd
- English Springer Spaniel
- Miniature Pinscher
- Irish Setter
- German Shepherd Dog
What can one make out of this list? We could say that these dogs share a love for physical activity and may trend towards the hyper side.
These dogs tend to be naturally active because of their genes. However, all dog breeds tend to get over-excited due to anxiety and other factors unrelated to genetics.
Like human beings, dogs have different personalities. The potential personality traits of dogs are playfulness, curiosity and fearlessness, chase-proneness, sociability and aggressiveness, and shyness and boldness.
Your dog’s level of activity is a large dimension of their personality. Some dogs are simply going to have more energy and be more reactive than others. Their ordinary level of activity may also change when they’re under stress or exposed to exciting stimuli.
Since every dog is unique in their own way, they’re not limited to the personalities mentioned above. Keen observation is the key to learning your dog’s behavior in different circumstances. This knowledge helps you handle them when they are being difficult and allows you to train accordingly.
Stress can make some dogs hyperactive. Although every dog will show different signs of distress, pacing and barking are common symptoms of an anxious canine. It can be easy to mistake stress signals for hyperactivity.
Below are the top 10 indicators of stress in dogs:
- Pacing or shaking
- Whining or barking
- Yawning, drooling, and licking
- Changes in eyes and ears
- Changes in body posture
- Changes in bodily functions
- Avoidance or displacement behavior
- Hiding or escape behavior
If your dog is behaving this way, there might be something making them uncomfortable. Loud noises, solitude, changes in residence, new people, and other elements can trigger these stress reactions.
To calm your dog, you must identify the source of their anxiety. From there, you can either remove the stressor or train your dog to become accustomed to it. But before any of that, you must be aware of your dog’s stress behavior!
Too much or too little stimulation can make a dog a little crazy. Providing dogs with enough activity and toys can keep them occupied, but it can also result in frustration or over-excitement.
It is crucial to know the right amount of stimulation for your dog. You don’t want to get them too hyped with toys, activities, or guests But, too little stimulation will leave them bored, which can be a recipe for destruction and disaster.
Like any other animal, dogs need to move. Dog owners can’t just keep them confined in yards while leaving food in their bowls. It will result in boredom that causes more erratic behavior.
If your dog has too much energy, they may release it in inappropriate ways like chewing on furniture, digging holes, and annoying everyone.
Thus, it is better to expend their energy through exercise. This keeps them from misbehaving. Not to mention, it is also healthy for the mind and body of not only of the dog, but also of the owner.
5 Ways How to Calm a Hyper Dog
Now that we have explored the potential causes of your dog’s hyperactivity, we can discuss ways to calm an overexcited dog.
#1 Exercise Releases Energy
Exercise is extremely important—it drains your dog’s excess energy. If your dog is too tired to get all hyped up, then keeping them from barking and jumping all over people will be a piece of cake.
The minimum amount of time you should spend walking your dog in the morning is anywhere between 30 and 60 minutes. In the evening, 15 to 30 minutes will be enough, regardless of the breed.
Remember that letting your dog out for a run in the yard is not the right kind of exercise. It only adds more excitement and leaves your dog hyperactive, even when the activity is over.
#2 Create Structure and Predictability
Providing mental stimulation can prevent your dog from getting stressed out. You can do this by laying out routine activities to look forward to. Ask your dog to do simple tasks and reward them with a treat—it may be a toy or snack.
Stick to the schedule so your dog can develop a sense of predictability. By making a daily routine, your dog will no longer feel the irritation from not knowing what to expect. Moreover, this will strengthen the connection between you and your dog as you spend time together on a daily basis.
#3 Use Obedience/Training to Calm a Hyper Dog
Train your dog to listen to you. Make them acknowledge your authority and let them know you are not happy when they act too intensely. But first, you have to be calm yourself to encourage calm behavior and not excitement.
Make use of your dog’s strong sense of smell by playing games that require them to use their nose. Reward-based methods are also an effective way to train your dog.
Below are some useful fun games that are guaranteed to help train your dog and alleviate their anxiety.
- It’s Yer Choice - a game that teaches dogs to choose what they want.
- Ready, Set, GO! - a game that trains your dog with obedience cues.
- Mat Training - a game that teaches dogs to settle down by making them lie down on a mat.
#4 Toys/Puzzles Stimulate the Mind
Another effective way to stimulate your dog’s mind is to provide them with toys, preferably puzzles that require a large amount of energy. Interactive and food puzzles challenge your dog’s mental and physical abilities. Here’s a list of the best interactive puzzles:
- Nina Ottosson DogBrick Interactive Puzzle
- Kong Classic DogPuzzle Toy
- Trixie Activity FlipBoard Interactive Dog Puzzle Toy
- Nina Ottosson DogTwister Puzzle Toy
- Trixie Activity PokerBox Interactive Dog Puzzle Toy
- OutwardHound Hide-a-Squirrel Dog Puzzle Toy
- Nina Ottosson DogCasino Interactive Game
- Omega Paw TrickyTreat Puzzle Ball
- iFetch Interactive BallLauncher Dog Toy
- iFetch Frenzy DogPuzzle Toy
- Bob-A-Lot Interactive DogPuzzle Toy
- Qwizl TreatPuzzle Dog Puzzle Toy
- PAW5 WoolySnuffle Puzzle Mat
- Nina Ottosson DogTornado Puzzle Toy
- West Paw TopplTreat Puzzle Toy
- ZippyPaws Popcorn Squeaky Hide-and-Seek DogPuzzle Toy
- Nina Ottosson Dog Smart Puzzle
- Trixie Mad Scientist PuzzleGame for Dogs
- PetSafe Busy Buddy Barnacle TreatDispensing Dog Puzzle Toy
#5 Supplements Can Calm a Hyper Dog
Several calming treats are available on the market. However, it is highly suggested to give your dogs treats that contain cannabidiol (CBD). It is a compound found in hemp plants that can put your dog at ease and reduce their hyperactivity.
Unlike marijuana, CBD doesn’t induce intoxicating effects. This means you don’t have to worry about your pet getting “high” from ingesting CBD dog treats.
Most calming dog treats contain L-theanine, L-tryptophan, Chamomile, and Melatonin. They come in different forms, such as chews and tablets. Here’s a list of the best calming products as reviewed by Dr. Jo de Klerk, BVM:
- Gracie to the Rescue’s Calming Treats
- Premium Care Calming Treats
- FurroLandia Hemp Calming Treats
- VetriScience Composure Chews
We understand that you want what’s best for your four-legged friend. Providing them with anxiety supplements could help them chill out and find their happy place! However, don’t forget to ask your veterinarian for advice when giving your dog a new treat.
Related Article: CBD dog treats stress anxiety relief
Applying Multiple Strategies
Effective ways to calm your dog down include, but are not limited, to the five strategies mentioned above. You can also consider the STAR concept of the American Kennel Club. STAR stands for Socialization, Training, Activity, and Responsible Owner. It’s a program that helps owners build a unique connection with their dogs.
With this program, you develop responsible ownership. The training classes also allow your pet to socialize with people and other dogs, making them more confident and aware of the world they are in. Visit AKC.org to learn more about the STAR program.
You see, it’s not always rainbows and candies with your dog, especially when you’re dealing with a pup that bounces off the walls like a super ball. But just like a mother to her children, you must be willing to take care of your dog despite their misbehavior.
With enough knowledge and proper training, good days will outweigh the bad. Soon, you and your dog will be in sync, and your bond will be phenomenal!