Being joyfully welcomed by your dogs after a long day sure feels amazing, doesn’t it? With their excited cries, incessantly wagging tails, that funny expression, and those big round eyes, who couldn’t resist?
If you’ve ever wondered what makes them so excited, science tells us that your dog actually just loves you to bits and is thrilled to see you back.
However, what if your dog can’t seem to calm down the whole day, draining your energy battery much too often? While it’s normal for dogs to be overly excited when they see you or encounter other dogs, if their energy level remains high throughout the day as to cause a ruckus here and there, you may be dealing with a hyperactive dog.
Hyperactivity in dogs, also known as hyperkinesis, may be caused by their genetic make-up. Do note however that a dog’s DNA is just a part of the big picture and is typically not the sole factor. Social and environmental factors contribute much to the development of dogs’ behaviors and personalities, so the support of fur-parents is essential.
So, do you feel like you may have a hyperactive dog? There is no need to worry. We will guide you through a) how to recognize hyperactivity in dogs; b) what the causes are; and c) proven ways on how to calm down a dog that is hyperactive.
Recognizing Signs of Hyperactivity in Dogs
First, how do you know if your dog is hyperactive or just highly energetic? To provide context, hyperkinesis is a real canine counterpart of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyper-Activity Disorder).
Signs of a hyperactive dog are a combination of the following:
- High energy levels
- Fidgety movements
- Short attention span
- Seeking too much attention
- Snapping easily
- Showing aggressive behavior in times of stress
- Not being able to socialize well with other dogs
If these symptoms are not addressed, they may escalate negative implications. Therefore, it’s best to recognize the signs early on to be able to deal with them appropriately and help your dog live a happy and healthy life.
Causes of Hyperactivity in Dogs
Here are some of the genetic as well as social and environmental factors that may cause hyperactivity in dogs. It may be due to one or a combination of the following:
In all likelihood, a dog’s breed is not the only factor of hyperactivity. However, there are some behavioral tendencies that can be linked to a dog’s genes.
Some examples of dog breeds that are known to be highly active include herding breeds (Australian Shepherds, Border Collies, etc.) and sporting breeds (Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, etc.). Other high-energy breeds include Siberian Huskies, Jack Russel Terriers, Dalmatians, Corgis, and Chihuahuas.
The early years of a dog’s life are essential because it’s the time when dogs learn about the world, how to do things, how to interact with others, as well as how to express themselves. If they are not guided or given the right kind of care during these formative years, they might misunderstand certain things while growing up.
Lack of Exercise
Highly active dogs need lots of exercises to be able to channel their energy and anxiety in a healthy way. It also paves the way to smooth training, good sleeping habits, and helps aid digestion. A lack of exercise on the other hand may lead to hyperactivity.
Improper Training Methods
Training your dogs is a good way for them to receive cognitive stimulation, especially after physical activity. Note however that it’s also important that training be done using proper methods and in an environment conducive for learning. Improper training methods can cause confusion and anxiety, leading to hyperactivity.
A proper diet matching your dog’s physical activity is essential in managing the behavior of your dog. It’s best to provide them with food that addresses their nutritional needs and has enough vitamins & minerals to keep them healthy. If your dog’s diet isn’t targeted to their specific needs, this may cause behavioral problems, including hyperactivity.
Lack of Routine
It’s healthy for a dog to have specific times for feeding, physical activity, and sleeping. This allows them to understand that there’s a time for everything. If there is a lack of routine, however, this can cause stress and confusion for your dog leading to hyperactivity.
Tips on How to Calm a Dog Down
Thinking of practical ways to calm down a hyper dog?
After recognizing the signs of hyperactivity in your dog, now is the perfect time to address the situation. Do remember that it’s important to be patient with your dog while addressing their hyperactivity for them to feel your support.
Consider their Breed
Some breeds are known to be highly active, both mentally and physically. For example, Border Collies are herding breeds that have the energy to run the whole day while they herd sheep. Running as well as fetch games are great activities to help channel their energy levels.
It would benefit your dog to be around other dogs as early as possible so that your pup learns how to socialize without going overboard. To start off, you can organize meetups with a few dogs. And your dog grows older, you can bring them to a park to mingle with other dogs and learn what behavior is acceptable.
Adequate and consistent physical exercise can do wonders. Giving your dogs enough exercise allows them to channel all their energy and anxiety as they focus on their physical activity. It works hand in hand with training, aids in digestion, and results in better sleep.
For a hyperactive dog, training often works best after exercise. For example, once the exercise is done, it would be helpful to teach your dog essential commands such as sit, stay, and down. When you have guests at home and your dog is showing signs of hyperactivity, these commands usually help calm down your dog.
Provide Tasks and Mental Activities
While physical exercise has a lot of benefits for dogs who are hyperactive, mental activity is often equally beneficial. For example, herding and field work are ideal for smart and active breeds. It’s also a good idea to introduce puzzles, games, and other fun activities that your dog would enjoy to provide mental stimulation.
Promote a Healthy Diet
Keep your dog away from artificial or processed food as this directly affects the behavior of your dog. According to studies, there is a loose connection between dog food ingredients and hyperactivity, so provide your dog with good quality food that contains pure, identifiable ingredients with none or the least possible preservatives or fillers.
It’s also essential to choose foods that are fit rich in nutrition, vitamins, and minerals. Fresh and healthy food is the best!
Stick to a Schedule
One of the effective ways on how to get a dog to calm down is to stick to a daily schedule. Having a routine helps them know what to do at certain times of the day, and this aids in alleviating stress and anxiety. Having specific times for waking up, eating, going on walks, exercising, and going to bed would help your dog relax and be accustomed to the regimen.
Like us humans, dogs can also benefit from music therapy. If you will be away for the day, playing calming music for your dogs would help ease their worries and anxieties. Music also helps block undesirable sounds that may rattle or negatively stimulate your dog.
According to most research, dogs have a particular preference for classical music, so you might want to consider playing classical music for your dog (and for yourself too) every now and then.
Consult your dog’s vet
If you’ve taken the measures mentioned above, yet your dog still shows symptoms of hyperactivity, it would be best to consult with your dog’s veterinarian.
Depending on the findings, there’s a possibility that your dog may need medical treatment. Meanwhile, there are alternative measures worth looking into, but be sure to consult your vet first before administering.
While it may be overwhelming at first, hyperactivity is something that can definitely be resolved successfully. By recognizing the symptoms and acting on it with patience, love, and level-headedness, you can help your dog overcome hyperactive behavior and live a happy and balanced life.