Whether it be breed or age, some dogs just naturally have more energy than others. How should an owner deal with a hyperactive dog?
- Exercise: of course, all dogs need exercise, especially a hyperactive dog. Play fetch or tug in the house or yard, go on walks or hikes and if your dog is friendly and has a decent recall, take him/her to the dog park. Just being around other dogs and humans can help reduce stress and anxiety which may be contributing to the hyperactivity. Take up a dog sport (agility, flyball, herding). Unique tip: Have your dog wear a backpack on walks with a little bit of weight in it (water bottles) to exert extra energy.
- Leadership: dogs with strong leaders are more likely to calm down on command and be less anxious knowing you have everything under control.
- Training: training your dog to do basic commands can help divert some hyper energy. Have your dog do doggie push-ups, practice the “watch” command or teach your dog some fun tricks. Reinforce calm behavior (such as sleepy eyes, lying down, yawning, stretching) by clicking and treating. Be sure not to reinforce hyper behavior by yelling or nagging at a dog that barks, jumps or pulls. Ignore the behavior and set out to train an alternate behavior or a counter-command. Also remember distance is your friend if you have a dog that gets charged up when greeting another dog or person, find the distance where your dog is calm (reward at that point) and slowly get closer. If your dog is calm, the reward is he gets to greet the dog or person.
- Your Behavior: you affect your dog’s behavior. Move slowly and talk quietly. Give clear and confident directions. Touch your dog with long slow pets and avoid choppy rough pets that tend to wind up dogs. Tension on the leash can also create tension in your dog. Look into walking tools if you are having trouble with a pulling dog that doesn’t respond to traditional training methods for heel.
- Doggie Massage: a calm massage can be a great technique to calm a hyper dog. Rub a dog gently where he or she likes best; ears, jaw, thigh, back, belly etc. To make this more relaxing, you can do this technique on a dog bed and click and treat for signs of relaxation (drooping eyelids, lying down, stretching, being quiet).
- Stimulus: provide safe bones (bully sticks, knuckle bones, compressed rawhide) and interactive toys for dogs that get hyper from lack of attention or boredom when at home. Rotate toys to ensure dog doesn’t get bored. Try the tug-a-jug, maze-a-ball, hide-a-squirrel or stuff a kong with my favorite recipe.
- Supplements and treats: when purchasing training treats, buy the treats with the claims of “calming.” You might as well try them, just in case they help! There are several supplements that do work for calming such as the “Good dog” water additive, DAP pheromone plug in and Pet Naturals of Vermont Calming Bites. All are completely natural and safe for your dog.
- Aromatherapy and Acupuncture: feeling adventurous? A handful of licensed veterinarians in our area offer aromatherapy and acupuncture as well as chiropractics. I have seen some fantastic results, however, they are always short lived.