The Best Ways to Handle a Hyperactive Dog

It’s normal for dogs to get excited when their owners come home. Some dogs may run and jump on their owners to greet them. This kind of behavior is often tolerable. However, when the hyperactivity persists – such as when the dog is running around the house and knocking over furniture – then the problem becomes a bit more serious. A hyperactive dog can injure himself and others if he is not careful. Here are some tips for dog owners who need help calming their hyperactive dogs.

What is considered hyperactive?
First, it is important to understand what exactly it means to be hyperactive. According to the true medical definition of hyperactivity, hyperactivity is characterized by the following behaviors:

  • Frantic activity
  • Restlessness
  • Inability to stop moving
  • Excessive panting
  • Unfocused eyes
  • Strange pattern of movements (such as spinning in circles or chasing tail)

Why are some dogs hyperactive?
Veterinarians are seeing more and more cases of hyperactivity in dogs. Although some medical conditions, such as parasites, diabetes and tumors, can lead to hyperactivity, it is often the result of one of the following:

  • Lack of exercise – Dogs need an outlet to release pent-up energy. Inadequate exercise can make a dog overstimulated.
  • Poor diet – Dog foods high in sugar will make a dog hyperactive.
  • Age/breed of dog – Border collies, Huskies, German Shepherds and other sport and working breeds of dogs naturally have more energy than other breeds. In addition, puppies are known to be more energetic than adults.
  • Lack of training – A dog that has never had any rules will do whatever he wants, and this includes jumping and running around the house. Early obedience training can prevent hyperactivity and other behavioral issues.
  • Lack of routine – Dogs thrive on routine. Chaos can increase stress levels in a dog and lead to excess energy.

How to calm a hyperactive dog
Depending on the source of your dog’s excess energy levels, there are various ways to calm him down and regain tranquility in the household. The main thing an owner must do is ignore the behavior. Dogs jump on people to seek attention. The next time your dog does this, simply ignore. Do not yell at him or punish him. Do not even look at him. Simply go about your business and see how long the jumping continues. Most dogs will quickly learn that jumping does not produce the desired results.

An even better idea is to teach your dog commands. When he starts getting restless, teach him to “Sit!” in a form voice. Do not yell at him, as may make your dog even more excited. When he does sit, offer a reward. The dog will quickly learn that obedience leads to positive attention.

If you think lack of exercise may be to blame, ramp up his activity. Be sure to allow time for walks during the day. A vigorous game of fetch or Frisbee can work wonders.  A visit to the dog park will not only release pent-up energy, but improve socialization skills. Aim for at least 30 minutes of activity daily. If you are away from the home over long periods, it may be a good idea to have someone walk your dog during the day.

If hyperactivity is caused by your dog’s diet, switch dog foods. A high-quality dog food should have meat as the first ingredient. If the first ingredient listed is sugar or corn, your dog is not getting enough nutrition, which could be causing the hyperactivity.

As a dog owner, you can help your dog by assessing your own stress level. Dogs sense the energy of their owners, the pack leaders. If you are constantly stressed, raising your voice at others or running around the house frantically, your dog will sense chaos and respond by releasing energy through the fight-or-flight response that comes naturally to humans and animals. In this situation, you must help yourself handle stress better before you can calm your dog.

You can also give your dog a backpack to wear. Sometimes hyperactivity stems from psychological needs and having your dog wear a backpack can make him feel important. The backpack can boost his self-esteem, as it gives him a job to do. Backpacks allow your dog to carry items for a walk or hike and can also hinder the desire to chase cats, squirrels, cars and other objects.

If none of these tips work, you may want to try alternative treatments. Aromatherapy is effective for many dogs because they explore their world through scent. Lavender is a very relaxing scent, but there are many others that may work well for your dog. Contact your vet or a professional who is experienced in holistic canine treatments.

It may seem silly to massage your dog, but it works well for humans. A relaxing massage can not only relieve stress, but increase a dog’s circulation throughout her body. Canine massage covers what you need to know about this topic.

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