If you’re struggling with a hyperactive pooch, I feel your pain!
Trying to bring an excitable dog under control can feel harder than pulling the breaks on a runaway freight train.
Jumping up, pulling on a leash, digging inappropriately… bad behavior can take numerous forms, involve various explanations, and require one of many treatments.
If you’re struggling to deal with an excitable pet, help is on hand… read on to discover my top tips to calm hyperactive dogs.
Hyperactivity vs. Happiness
It’s easy to confuse a super-excited, highly energetic dog with a happy one… but don’t be fooled.
Dogs are generally much happier when they are in a relaxed, calm state than when they’re jumping all over your visitors or chasing their tail around the garden.
Overexcitement is often a quick route to undesirable behavior, including obsessive digging, compulsive chewing, and even, on the extreme end of things, canine aggression.
For this reason, it’s vital to nurture a calm, tranquil environment for your pet, both at home and outside.
To learn how to calm your pet and ensure a well-adjusted, happy pooch, read on.
Top 20 Tips to Calm Hyperactive Dogs
#1: Ignore Bad Behavior
As Vetstreet explains, hyperactivity in dogs can sometimes be the result of conditioning.
If you’ve rewarded your dog with attention every time they’ve jumped up, pulled on the lease, or exhibited similar bad behavior, they may simply associate acting out with some valuable attention (regardless of whether that attention is positive or negative).
Next time your dog gets excitable, break the habit by simply ignoring them, and only pay them attention when they’re at their calmest.
#2: Give Them a Purpose
We all need to feel we have a purpose, and dogs are no different.
Follow the advice of Barkblaster and give your dog a job to keep them mentally stimulated, lower their anxiety and improve their confidence.
Ideally, choose a job that suits your dog’s personality and breed: Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Spaniels and other breeds bred for game retrieval can be trained to grab newspapers from the yard, balls from the garden or even your slippers from the bedroom.
Guard dogs, on the other hand, will appreciate the opportunity to feel they’re protecting you, while companion dogs will love the chance to accompany you as you go about your daily routine.
#3: Walk it Out
Hyperactive dogs need a lot of exercise to burn off some of that suppressed energy.
If you don’t give your dog the right amount of physical exercise they need on a daily basis, be sure they’ll let you know about it in the form of hyperactivity, destructive behavior, or even depression.
If you find your pet is chewing anything they can sink their teeth into, frantically digging for gold in the yard, or tearing up the furniture like there’s no tomorrow, try increasing their daily walks.
As Wag Walking notes, you should notice an immediate improvement in their mood and behavior… you might even notice some benefits on your side too!
#4: Don’t Forget their Minds
As TopDogTips explains, give your dog 15 minutes of mental stimulation a day, and you’ll be rewarded with a much calmer dog.
Check out your local pet store for interactive puzzles and games designed to test your dog’s mental agility- the activities will improve mental health, enhance learning capacity and improve attention spans.
As a bonus for owners of ageing pets, daily stimulation will help prevent the mental decline that comes with advanced years.
Bear in mind that not all dogs will take to the activities at first- you may need to train and coax them into participating… once you do, the results will fully justify the effort.
#5: Check Yourself
Don’t forget that dogs are highly empathetic creatures; if you feel stressed or angry, it’s likely your dog will feel your mood and start reflecting it in their own behavior.
If you notice your dog starts acting out whenever you’re in a bad mood, check yourself… either take yourself and your mood away from your pet entirely, or, as Barkblaster recommends, be mindful about exhibiting a calm, cheerful demeanor in their presence.
Remember, a peaceful, happy owner equals a peaceful, happy pet.
#6: Try Aromatherapy
As Dogster reports, aromatherapy can offer excellent, natural relief to hyperactivity.
Lavender and chamomile essential oils have both been shown to have calming effects on canines.
Try using diffusers loaded with the oils around the house, spritz your dogs’ bed with a chamomile and lavender mix, or hang a cotton ball soaked in the oils from your rearview mirror on car trips.
Before getting started, remember that natural remedies tend to take longer to show results than conventional medications, so don’t feel disappointed if you don’t see immediate results… persevere and your patience will be rewarded!
On a safety note, never apply undiluted essential oils directly to your pet.
#7: The Eye Contact Game
Some pet owners have found excellent relief from their pet’s hyperactivity by utilizing Chris Bach’s Eye Contact Game.
One fan of the technique is dog trainer Laura Blanz, who uses the training method at her obedience classes.
“The beauty of the Eye Contact Game is that it is truly voluntary,” she told Dogster.
“The dog learns to give up something he wants (food, in the teaching phase), and to attend to you, to get something he wants (again food, in the teaching phase).
The dog’s decision to focus on you instead of the food is what produces the food reinforcement.
”By focusing their attentions squarely on you, your pet becomes calmer, and stays that way even after the end of the game.
For more information on the Eye Contact Game, check out Chris Bach’s website.
#8: Herbal Essences
As Natural Dog Health Remedies writes, some pet owners have reported great success from adding a few drops of a herbal essence such as Dr. Bach’s Rescue Remedy to their dog’s drinking water, or even by rubbing a few drops directly onto their gums.
The combination of herbal extracts seems to have the same soothing effects on canines as it does on humans, making it a great, safe, and 100% natural remedy for hyperactivity.
To avoid any issues, make sure to select the “pet” version of any remedy- what’s safe for humans isn’t always safe for pets.
#9: Socialize Your Dog
As Vet Street recommends, interacting with other canines can be a useful way of calming your dog’s hyperactivity and putting a stop to some of the bad behavior it causes.
If you can, get your dog to a local dog park (or even try a doggy day care if you’re away from them for long periods during the day).
Exercising with other dogs will provide your pet with the mental stimulation, physical exercise and rewarding social contact that’s at the cornerstone of great health, mental wellness and good behavior.
If you can, sign them up to a training or agility class: not only will they learn some valuable lessons, the classes will provide a great way for them to mix with their canine companions in a safe, controlled environment.
#10: Increase Physical Activity
Never underestimate the importance of physical exercise when it comes to developing a healthy, well- adjusted pet.
At a minimum, you should be walking your pet for between 30-60 minutes a day.
To prevent boredom (and the destructive behaviors this can result in), follow the advice of 3lostdogs by engaging them in plenty of other physical activities between walking sessions.
A game of frisbee, chasing a ball around a park, or even a quick game of soccer will provide a great, interactive ways of engaging your pooch in physical activity and burning of some of that surplus energy.
You may even find you enjoy the games as much as they do!
#11: Use Appropriate Training
Bad behavior such as barking, chewing, jumping, digging and leash pulling can often be corrected with simple, consistent training.
One- on- one training will not only lead to a better behaved and more well-adjusted dog, it will also help cement the bond between you and your pet.
There’s a wealth of information on the web to get you started (I’d recommend the top tips on Barkblaster as a great place to start) but remember there’s no shame is asking for help: if you feel your dog would benefit from more intense training, or if you simply don’t have the time or the knowledge to do it yourself, try enrolling them in a professional training course- you should start to notice improvements in next to no time.
#12: Provide Stimulating Toys
In an ideal world, we’d love to spend as much time with our dogs as possible.
In reality, we all have other commitments that take away from the time we’d otherwise much rather spend with them.
To stop your pet getting bored and agitated when you’re not home, invest in some stimulating toys to keep them engaged and distracted in your absence.
Most pet stores carry a great range of interactive toys and puzzles; bear in mind that some dogs may take a while to get into the habit of using them, so use plenty of positive encouragement when you start rolling them out.
For some useful ideas on the best kind of toys for mental stimulation, My Dog’s Name is a great source of inspiration.
Although the T-Touch technique was first developed with horses in mind, the handy massage technique has proved just as useful for calming hyperactive canines.
As Dogster explains, the technique uses circular movements of the fingers and hands, along with a specific combination of touches and lifts, to gently soothe the animal.
The movements not only activate call function, they release tension and can offer an effective, calming experience for boisterous pets.
For more information on the technique, take a look at the hints and tips on its dedicated website.
#14: The Thunder Cap
If you find your dog becomes easily stimulated and distracted by things happening around then, The Thunder Cap might offer some welcome relief.
The cap, which is manufactured by Premier Pet Products, is essentially a training tool that helps filter visual stimulation, reducing your dog’s reactivity to people and other dogs; minimizing stress during vet visits; and reducing sensitivity to light, movement and shadow.
It can also act as a useful way of allowing dogs with a high prey drive to explore their surrounds without a leash.
The cap attaches to any standard buckle collar, using strategically placed velcro attachments to ensure a good fit.
Although slightly draconian looking, the cap has proved very helpful to many pet owners – check out Dogster.com to see if it could be equally suitable for you.
#15: Through a Dog’s Ear
Music therapy may sound a little “new-age”, but its success rate suggests we might need to take it seriously.
Before you start blasting Metallica at your pooch, I should warn you that the therapy uses specially designed, clinically tested music only.
The range of musical offerings from icalmpet (the market leader in musical therapy) are extensive and can be tailored to suit the specific needs of your pet.
If your dog suffers from separation anxiety, there’s a specially designed “Separation Anxiety Sound Card”.
If they have trouble keeping calm around visitors, you might want to try the “Calm your Canine” CD series.
All products are available to purchase via their website (https://icalmpet.com/shop/browse-products-behaviors/), and come with the promise of being “psychoacoustically designed to support you and your dog’s compromised immune or nervous system.”
#16: Understand Their Moods
As Canna-pet notes, hyperactive dogs tend to be exceptionally bright and driven.
Learning to understand your pet’s motivations and state of mind will help you develop the best way of correcting any undesirable behaviors.
Just like humans, canines can become frustrated, bored and depressed, so make sure to give them lots of praise and positive affirmation, especially if you’re teaching them new skills or tricks.
Equally, allow plenty of downtime and rest after periods of intense activity to allow them to cool off and relax.
#17: Teach Commands
Even the youngest of pups can learn and benefit from some simple commands.
Action words like “settle”, “watch me”, “down”, “sit”, “stay” and “wait” all serve multipurpose functions and should be part of the lexicon of any dog owner with a hyperactive pet.
Remember that dogs respond best to positive reinforcement; when teaching a new command, make sure to reward your dog’s efforts with lots of petting, treats, and fun.
For some great teaching techniques, take a look at Pups Best or check out the following inspirational video:
#18: Use Distractions
If your dog is doing something they shouldn’t, don’t think shouting at them until they stop will work.
As Daily Dog Stuff confirms, distractions can be much simpler, effective, and less stressful (for both you and your dog).
Try to work out what’s attracting your pet’s attention, then divert their attention away from it… sometimes, this can be as simple as closing the curtains to conceal passing people or cars.
Reward your dog each time they re-focus their mind on something else… this will reinforce their good behavior and help make a habit of it.
#19: Give Them More Attention
At heart, dogs are faithful companions who love nothing more than being by our side.
If you’re too busy to give your dog the time they crave, they may try to grab your attention in any way they can, even if that attention is ultimately negative.
If they start to connect their bad behavior with a few moments of your time, be sure they’ll keep doing it.
As Barkblaster recommends, if you’ve been neglecting your dog, try giving them more one-on-one-time; if a lack of attention is at the root of their behavior, you should start to see improvements very quickly.
#20: Get Them Checked by a Vet
If you’ve followed all the above tips and your dogs is still overly boisterous, it may be time to seek professional help.
While it’s very rare, some dogs can suffer the canine version of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), a condition that can cause training difficulties, anxiety, depression, inability to concentrate and hyperactivity.
As PetPlace reports, ADHD is a genetic condition that typically shows itself through a poor attention span and an appearance of constant motion (running in circles, jumping, constant barking etc.)
If you’ve exhausted all other options, ask your vet to complete a comprehensive test to see if ADHD is at the root cause of your dog’s behavior.
I do hope you’ve found the list of above tips helpful.
I know how stressful it can be to have a dog whose behavior seems out of control, but remember… for every problem, there’s a solution (even if finding the right one can sometimes seem a case of trial and error!)
If you’ve found success with any of the tips, or even have some of your own to share, don’t hesitate in letting me know in the comments section below – I’d love to hear your suggestions.
Equally, do feel free to share the link to today’s post with other pet owners who might benefit from the info.