Dealing with a hyperactive pup is no easy task.
Studies show that 12–15% of dogs naturally show high levels of hyperactivity and impulsivity, while about 20% struggle with a lack of attention (Sulkama et al.).
If you're the parent of an overly excited dog, you're probably asking yourself,
"How can I calm my hyper dog down?"
Don't worry—we have 9 proven ways to channel your dog's boundless energy!
In this article, we'll explore various strategies and techniques that turn frenzied zoomies into calm, controlled behavior.
The Behavioral Traits of a Hyperactive Dog
Hyperactivity is the typical constant behavior you'd expect from a dog.
However, puppies are a different story.
Puppies, being young and exploring their world, often lack impulse control. They're driven by whatever feels right in the moment, seeking activities that bring them joy while still figuring out proper manners.
But in adult dogs, constant hyperactivity—not having an "off switch"—may become a nuisance.
Imagine dealing with a dog that's always:
- Hopping onto counters
- Tearing your belongings apart
- Barking incessantly
These dogs seem unable to comprehend what "relaxation" is. Once you stop paying attention, they're off zooming around, playfully hip-checking, nipping at each other, and barking. Quite a bit to handle!
2 Common Causes of Dog Hyperactivity
Your Dog's Breed
One key factor to consider when choosing a furry buddy is that some breeds are naturally more energetic due to their genetic makeup.
Are you the type of person who loves being active?
If so, remember that these dogs cannot thrive without plentiful stimulation and "jobs" to do!
On the other hand, we have more laid-back breeds, perfect for seniors or those seeking a low-maintenance companion. Think of lap dogs that are content to hang out and be close to you.
Boredom from a Lack of Exercise
When your dog doesn't get enough exercise, all that pent-up energy has to go somewhere, right?
That's when your pup will run around the house like a whirlwind, bark more than usual, or even start chewing on forbidden things they shouldn't.
It's not about being naughty on purpose; they're just searching for ways to cope with their boredom and excess energy!
7 Signs of Hyperactive Dogs
- Non-Stop Movement: Hyperactive dogs manifest their endless energy supply by constantly being on the move, running around, and jumping. No settling down for these furballs of vitality!
- Excessive Barking: A hyperactive dog often barks more than your average pup. This persistent barking may occur out of the blue, even without an apparent reason!
- Difficulty Focusing: Your dog may struggle to follow commands while getting easily distracted during training sessions.
- Impulsive Behavior: Hyperactive dogs act impulsively—darting off suddenly, jumping on people, or grabbing forbidden things.
- Overexcitement in Social Situations: Your dog will manifest uncontrollable enthusiasm when meeting other dogs or people.
- Short Attention Span: You cannot keep a hyperactive dog focused on toys or games for more than a few moments at a time.
- Chewing and Destructive Behavior: They might chew on furniture, shoes, or other inappropriate items as an outlet for excess energy.
How to Calm a Hyper Dog Down
The Value of a Daily Exercise Plan
The number one thing we always tell people about managing a dog's energy is the value of daily exercise. We're talking about both physical activity and giving your dog emotional fulfillment.
Regular exercise ensures that your dog's boundless energy has a positive direction. Whether it's running around a park, hiking trails, or visiting a dog-friendly beach, it's all about letting your pup be their true doggy selves in an appropriate setting.
However, dogs get fitter with regular exercise. If you think your daily run or game of fetch will tire them out every time, you're in for a surprise.
Just like us, dogs build up their stamina. Therefore, any exercise that wears them out today might not have the same effect a couple of weeks down the line.
There are plenty of fun ways to get your hyperactive pup moving:
- Go to a dog park, rent a private play area, or let your pup loose in a fenced yard.
- On-leash running, a stroll around the neighborhood, or a game of fetch can be a blast!
- Training sessions are great not just for exercise but for bonding and mental stimulation, as well.
Help Your Dog Discover New Hobbies
Introducing your dog to a hobby is a fantastic way to help manage their hyperactivity.
Start with interactive toys or treat-dispensing puzzles that provide essential mental stimulation in a fun, engaging way. Quite the lifesaver if you need your pup to calm down and stay focused when you're busy working or meeting a client!
Picking the right difficulty level must be your primary focus when choosing such puzzles or toys.
An unnecessarily complex puzzle will only frustrate your dog, wasting their interest.
Begin with easier challenges your pup is sure to solve, then gradually increase the difficulty. This approach will keep your dog engaged and interested without getting discouraged.
Hide-and-seek toys are another fantastic option for hyperactive pups.
These toys contain detachable parts you can hide inside their "home base." Your dog has the fun task of finding and pulling them out. Once it's captured your dog's interest, a hide-and-seek toy will always do the trick!
Feeding Calming Foods and Treats
If your dog needs to be bribed into settling down, treats with calming ingredients, such as valerian root, hemp, and chamomile, are known for their calming properties. Make sure to check the ingredients list to ensure they're suitable for your dog.
Another neat trick is to use turkey as a protein in their diet.
Ever wonder why people tend to get sleepy after a big Thanksgiving meal?
It's because of the tryptophan in turkey, which has a calming effect!
Using Crate Training as a Quiet Space for Hyper Dogs
Training your hyperactive pup to be comfortable in a crate is an effective way to help manage their energy levels.
Crate training will allow your dog to achieve a state of calmness whenever you're busy or unable to give them your full attention.
Turn the crate into a happy place for your pup by giving them a chew toy or a puzzle to work on while inside. This way, they'll maybe stay peaceful enough to nap until you return!
Sticking to a Clear Routine
A consistent daily flow minimizes chaos and brings much-needed predictability into your dog's life.
Dogs are creatures of habit. These Steady Eddies of the animal kingdom appreciate knowing what's coming next.
Imagine a typical day for your four-legged friend:
- Start with a morning bathroom break, followed by breakfast to fuel up for the day.
- Then, some relaxation time or a playful session for decompression.
- Midday might include another bathroom break or a long walk outside.
- In the afternoon, engage in a play session at the local park or in the backyard.
- Evening is reserved for a calming walk, followed by relaxation or playtime to wind down.
- The day ends with a final bathroom break and bedtime.
Such a routine lets your dog anticipate each part of their day, eliminating the chaos behind hyperactivity.
Teaching Your Dog Basic Commands
Commands like "Sit," "Stay," and "Calm Down" teach your dog about manners and etiquette while keeping them out of mischief.
Mastering these basic commands will grant you more control over your dog's behavior. They're especially helpful in moments of erratic and hyperactive behavior.
By shifting your dog's focus toward following your command, you can guide them back to a calmer, more orderly state.
The Value of a Healthy Canine Diet
Your dog's diet plays a massive role in their levels of hyperactivity. It's like the foundation of a building—get it right, and everything else falls into place.
Research suggests a connection between certain dog food ingredients and hyperactivity in dogs. (Sechi et al.)
Avoid dog foods loaded with byproducts, artificial colors, and sugars. Feeding them such foods is akin to giving a child a bowl of sugary cereal before school—it's bound to spike their energy levels, leading to uncontrollable behavior.
Choosing high-quality dog food ensures your dog is nutritionally satisfied and balanced. Without a good diet, you're building your dog's health and behavior on a shaky foundation. Think of it as investing in their overall well-being; a well-fed dog is more likely to be a well-behaved dog!
The Dog Parent's Energy
Dogs are incredibly perceptive, often mirroring the energy levels around them. They're always in sync with their human parents, reflecting how they act and feel.
Therefore, if your home is a whirlwind of activity, with kids running around and loud music playing, your dog will likely join in on the chaos by acting out.
To help your dog find their chill, the vibe at home needs to be more relaxed.
If your household is on the lively side, especially with kids, institute times of calm and quiet—a 'rest time' for everyone—when the entire family slows down.
This cool, calm, and collected atmosphere will help your dog settle down.
Visiting Your Dog's Vet
If you've tried everything and your dog is still hyperactive, it might be time to check in with your vet.
Sometimes, hyperactivity in dogs is a symptom of a metabolic disease or other health issues, such as diabetes.
Your dog's annual physical may reveal underlying health concerns that, once addressed, will calm your hyper dog down.
However, let us be clear: We do not recommend or support medicating dogs to calm them down. The goal is to understand and work with your dog's energy, not suppress it with medication!
The Secrets to Mastering Your Dog's Hyperactivity? Understanding and Management!
Dogs are naturally curious, lively, and full of energy—a trifecta dog parents must learn to manage appropriately.
If you're struggling with a high-energy dog, consider their health first. Diabetes, a metabolic disorder, or how the body processes food could throw your dog's system off balance.
But at the end of the day, the joy of having a canine companion is all about embracing their vivacious spirit. If a high-energy pup isn't your cup of tea, a more laid-back pet might be a better fit for you, like a cat.
For more advice on dog nutrition, health, and training, make sure that you contact us and check out our blog!
Volhard Dog Nutrition and its expert nutritionists are now offering online consultations to help more dog parents discover why, what, and how to feed their dogs the healthiest of foods! Speaking to a Volhard nutritionist will help you understand the inseparable relationship between healthy food, a healthy body, and a healthy mind. If you're interested in contacting one of our Volhard nutritionists, don't hesitate to access our consultation page!