A hyperactive dog is full of bounce and bluster. Jumping, licking, barking with excitement – these are all normal in moderation, but what if your dog is just a bit too energetic? In this article we’ll look at the causes of hyperactivity in dogs, and list a few ways that you can calm them and help them.
Why Do Dogs Become Hyperactive?
Hyperactivity in dogs does not have one simple explanation. There are several things which can cause your dog to become hyperactive.
- They’re getting bored. If you leave your dog alone, they have no stimulation – especially if they’re shut in the same room every day.
- They might be anxious. Some dogs reflect their owner’s state of mind, so if you’re stressed or snappy, they might become nervous and hyper. Dogs become stressed for many other reasons, too – and stress can manifest in hyperactivity.
- They might be seeking your attention and this could be because they have been alone or because they are one of several dogs and are competing to engage your attention.
- They’re not getting enough exercise. Dogs who are cooped up are buzzing with energy!
- They might have a medical condition. Pacing and restlessness can be associated with health problems like dementia or food poisoning. If your dog has developed hyperactivity, take them to the vet for a health-check.
What Can I Do To Help My Hyperactive Dog?
When your dog is hyper, you might think it’s best to stay calm – to keep them quiet and try to relax them. But many hyper dogs desperately need to burn energy – and will calm down when they’re satisfied. So... get busy! Here are five ways to increase your dog’s activity.
- Increase their exercise... Your dog may be one of those who need two daily walks, or one longer walk. Energetic breeds like spaniels and Border Collies need more exercise than other dogs (around 2 hours). Instead of walking around the block, take your dog to an open space where they can really run free. If they love swimming, take your dog to a lake or sea where they can use their muscles – it’s a tiring activity. Or take a ball to initiate a game of fetch.
- Don’t leave them alone. Dogs were not bred to stay in a room all day. If your dog is left alone every day, book them into doggy day-care – or arrange for a dog-walker to collect them at lunchtime. Your dog will enjoy playing and walking with companions, and will return home exhausted – ready to relax with you.
- Give them a job... Many dogs were bred to serve a purpose. So if they’re hunting rats in the yard, they’re simply fulfilling their biological urges. You can redirect this energy by training them. Some people train their dogs to help in the home – bringing their own leash, or even pulling laundry out of the machine!
- Try mental stimulation in the home... Canine brains need stimulation. If you have to leave the house for errands (and don’t worry, we all do), you can leave your dog a “treasure trail” of treats or a food puzzle like Kong to keep them entertained. Obedience training is a good way to offer stimulation to a smart dog.
- Try dog agility or other sports... Canine sports are organized all over the country. Agility is accessible, since you can set up your own course in the yard (you just need basic equipment like posts and a plank to walk). But there are also sessions like Scent Work, Herding, Coursing, and Rallies. Find your nearest by searching the AKC database here.
How To Calm A Hyper Or High-Strung Dog
Calming a hyperactive dog is not simple. First, you’ll need to try to identify the cause of their hyperactivity.
It is highly likely to be boredom and lack of stimulation. So you can begin by increasing their daily stimulation – both mental and physical – using the suggestions above. A daily routine can be helpful: your dog will learn to expect activity at certain times of day, and likewise will anticipate the times when it’s quiet at home.
If this doesn’t prove effective, or you suspect that the hyperactivity is due to anxiety, stress, or jealousy, then try some natural therapies to help calm your dog.
- Aromatherapy. Lavender is a proven relaxant, for humans and dogs! Others such as Frankincense and Violet Leaf offer calming benefits. It’s important to keep essential oils out of reach of your dog (especially if they’re prone to chewing), but you can add drops to the drapes – or use a plug-in diffuser with a small dosage.
- A canine supplement. Our “Harmony” supplement can soothe anxiety and reduce stress levels. It contains L-theanine to balance hormone levels, and Ashwagandha to regulate cortisol.