Everyone’s dog gets excited once in a while. Maybe your dog jumps to their feet and runs up to you when they see you picking up their leash or heading to their food bowl. However, if your pet can’t seem to burn off their restless energy, you might be dealing with a hyperactive dog. Hyperactive dogs aren’t necessarily bad or aggressive, but they’re so energetic that it’s hard for them to maintain a normal life.
Some people quickly give up on hyperactive dogs, believing that it’s impossible to train them. However, most pups can lower their energy levels when you put them through a training regimen. Sometimes they just need to learn obedience skills. For example, if your pooch keeps jumping on the table, they might not be hyperactive–they might just need to learn how to behave inside the house. Other times, they need to learn how to calm down on cue so they can save their energy for playtime.
If nothing seems to work, you might need to reevaluate how you react to your hyper dog. Do you punish them by yelling at them or reward their hyperactivity by giving them attention? Some owners encourage their dog’s excitability without even realizing it. Your dog looks to you for instruction–and if they’re getting the wrong message, you might be sending them mixed signals.
In any case, dealing with a high energy dog can be challenging, but a little training could turn them into a whole new pooch. Here’s everything you need to know about a hyper dog.
How Do You Know if Your Dog is Hyperactive?
Some people have trouble gauging their dog’s energy level, particularly if they’re dealing with a young pup or a high-energy breed. Some breeds have higher energy levels than others, but you can teach just about any breed to calm down. Here are a few signs that you might be dealing with a hyperactive dog:
- Your dog barks constantly throughout the day.
- Your dog barrels through the house and rarely seems to get tired.
- Your dog jumps on people when they enter the room, sometimes knocking them over in the process.
- Your dog attacks the furniture or tears up household objects.
- Your dog spins around in circles for seemingly no reason.
- Your dog tries to non-aggressively bite or scratch people.
- Your dog never seems to run out of energy even after their exercise routine.
Hyperactivity can manifest in a number of different ways. If you’re not sure, talk to your vet to see if your dog seems to have normal energy levels. Some dogs just need more exercise while others have a serious problem.
Is Hyperactivity the Same as Aggression?
A hyperactive dog might show a few signs of aggression, but hyperactive dogs are not inherently aggressive. For example, if your pup jumps on people in a friendly way, they might just be a little too excited. However, if your dog bites and snarls at people when they walk through the door, you might have a bigger problem on your hands. Observe your dog’s interactions with other people, and ask yourself if they’re just being playful or not.
Can Dogs Have ADHD?
When you take your dog to the vet, your vet might diagnose them with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). You don’t necessarily need a diagnosis to treat your dog’s hyperactivity with training and behavioral therapy. However, if you’ve tried everything and nothing seems to work, your vet might prescribe medication that could help your dog calm down. Ritalin is a common medication for dogs with ADHD.
What Are the Different Types of Hyperactivity?
Some dogs experience hyperactivity due to behavioral issues. They might get overexcited, act out frequently and have trouble burning off their excess energy. Typically, their guardians can help them burn off energy and train them to settle down on cue. These dogs aren’t inherently high-energy breeds–rather, they just didn’t get enough training or struggle with other external issues.
Conversely, some breeds simply have higher levels of energy than others. These are usually athletic breeds that people breed for hunting and sportsmanship. To keep these dogs happy, they need a lot of exercises and outdoor playtime. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to indulge their hyperactivity–you can teach them to settle down and use their energy in constructive ways.
How Do You Calm Down a Hyperactive Dog?
When you’re cooped up in the house for a while, you get the urge to go outside and burn off some energy. Your dog is the same way. If your dog is bouncing off the walls and keeps running around or causing trouble indoors, maybe you need to take them outside for some physical exercise. Just telling your dog to run around the backyard isn’t always enough. Engage your dog in active play like hiking, swimming, or a game of fetch. You could also take them to the dog park and let them interact with the other pooches.
Playing games with your dog is another way to help them burn energy and keep their mind focused. For example, you could hide a treat and ask your dog to find it or make an obstacle course in your backyard. Simply tossing a frisbee a couple of times isn’t enough to keep your dog’s mind stimulated. Sometimes, your dog needs a puzzle to keep them happy and wear them out physically and mentally.
At the same time, you could use reinforcement to teach your dog not to get too excited. If your dog starts to show signs of hyperactivity, you could end the game until they settle down. You could reward them with a treat, affection, or more playtime if they calm down on cue. Playing games is a great way to stimulate your dog’s mind and sneak in a little extra training.
Use Puzzle Toys for Mental Exercise
There’s more to the world of dog toys than fake bones and tennis balls. You can buy puzzle toys with elaborate contraptions that take time to figure out. Eventually, your dog unlocks the puzzle and gets the treat inside. If you’re running late and don’t have time to take your pet outside, give them a puzzle toy to keep your dog busy and give them mental exercise throughout the day.
Evaluate Your Energy Levels
You might be contributing to your dog’s hyperactivity without realizing it. When your dog gets hyper, do you shout at them? Loud noises can make your dog even more excited. Instead of shouting at your dog, learn how to calm them down with a simple gesture or statement. This is helpful in other situations, too–if you shout at your dog every time they misbehave, they won’t know the difference between a small mistake and a serious issue.
You might also be rewarding your dog’s hyperactivity without realizing it. If you give your dog attention every time they act up, you’re giving them an incentive to act up even more. Instead, ignore your dog until they settle down. Once they’ve calmed down, give them attention or a treat or reinforce their good behavior. Over time, they’ll learn that acting up won’t grab your attention anymore.
Start a New Training Regimen
Extra training can transform your dog’s behavior. Many guardians don’t realize that they could train their dogs to settle down on command. You can find dozens of training tips online, but here are a few basic methods you could try:
- Teach your dog to calm down before you give them anything that they want during the day. For example, your dog has to settle down before you pour food into their bowl or take them for a walk. You’ll get several opportunities to train your dog throughout the day and show them that giving is a two-way street.
- Play with your dog to wind them up, then quickly tell them to stop with a simple command. Once you tell them to stop, refuse to engage in play until they settle down. Once they’ve relaxed, say the first command and start playing again. Your dog might have trouble shutting off their excitement at first, but eventually, they’ll learn how to settle down on cue.
- Use treat-and-clicker training to teach your dog to lie on a mat on cue. Once your dog has mastered this training, you can tell them to lie on a mat any time they start to get excited. This also helps you shield your dog from incidents that might get them to wound up, like a stranger at the door.
As a last resort, you could give your dog supplements like melatonin and industry-approved CBD oils, or other natural remedies. However, talk to your vet before you give your dog any kind of medication or supplement. Your vet might recommend medication specifically for your dog’s hyperactivity.
How Do You Know if You Have a High-Energy Breed?
If you don’t have a dog or you’re thinking about getting another one, do some research on the breed that you’re interested in. Many people take in high-energy breeds without realizing it. As a result, they might think that their dog needs more discipline when they actually need more exercise. Look online or talk to your vet to see if you have a high-energy breed. If you don’t have a lot of free time, a low-energy breed might be a better choice for you. However, every dog is different, and a stereotypically low-energy breed could still be hyperactive.
Should You Train All the Excitability Out of Your Dog?
Every dog gets energetic to some degree, especially when they’re young. You can train your dog to manage their energy in healthy ways, but don’t try to train every bit of excitement out of your dog. Can you imagine if someone told you that you have to sit quietly all day and barely move or make a sound? Your dog needs some energy to enjoy their life and build a positive relationship with their guardian.
Additionally, your dog needs the energy to build muscle and stay active. If your dog doesn’t have an ounce of energy in its body, it’ll lie around and muscle atrophy is very likely to occur. It’s virtually impossible to train all the excitement out of a dog anyway–like humans, they’re built to move around and enjoy the fresh air. Just make sure you know the difference between healthy amounts of energy and hyperactivity.
Compared to cats, dogs are infamous for their high energy levels. However, there’s a difference between normal levels of energy and hyperactivity. Being hyper doesn’t mean that your dog is bad–they might just need to burn off more energy or get some extra training. You could train your dog to relax or go to their mat on cue for instant relief. Other options include giving your dog a puzzle toy, engaging them in play, and watching how you react to your dog’s hyperactivity. You might be surprised by the changes that you see in your pup after a few weeks of dog training.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you calm an overactive dog?
Depending on the situation, one of the easiest ways to calm hyper dogs is to simply take them outside and let them run around and play to burn excess energy. If you have long-term hyperactivity issues with your pup, you might need to give them extra obedience training. Some dogs are naturally high-energy and need more dog training and exercise than others.
Why is my dog so hyper?
Some canines experience hyperactivity because they’re part of a high-energy breed that needs a lot of exercises. Other dogs weren’t trained properly by their previous owners. Many pups don’t get enough exercise, forcing them to burn off their energy in other ways.
How do you calm a hyperactive dog naturally?
In the short term, one of the easiest ways to calm hyper dogs is to let them burn off energy in healthy practices. Make sure you don’t reward hyperactive dog behavior by giving them attention or getting excited yourself. Instead, reinforce calm behavior while still letting your pet burn off energy.
Why is my dog so hyper and crazy?
Your pup might be hyperactive because they need to get more physical and mental exercise. Like toddlers, dogs can be energetic creatures that need to burn off their energy throughout the day. If their owner keeps them cooped up inside, they might start barking, running around, or tearing up the furniture. Your pooch might also need obedience training that teaches them calm behavior like how to relax, lie down and sit still.