How to Calm a Hyper Dog in 5 Easy Steps
A fun, lively dog is one thing but when your pooch is over-excited or cannot wind down, it can make keeping them safe, calm and happy a real challenge. A hyper dog can be overwhelming and can even make you wonder whether you can cope with the disruption their over-enthusiastic behavior is causing. But before you throw in the towel, you need to take a little time to understand the root cause of your pup’s over the top antics and try some tried and tested techniques to bring more order to the day-to-day life of your pet.
We take a look at the hyper dog and suggest five easy steps to calming them down.
What is a Hyperactive Dog?
We all like an active dog that is up for playtime fun, but when that energy and enthusiasm spills over into hyperactivity, it can become a problem. It can be difficult to keep up with a hyper dog and their high-energy can lead to some undesired and negative behaviors which can impact the quality of home life for both you and your pet. The most obvious hyperactive dog symptoms are that your pooch will typically have far too much energy and can seem overwhelmed or distracted by everything that is going on around them. They may also have a greatly reduced ability to concentrate and struggle to follow commands. Their social skills may also be off kilter and their attention-seeking, full-on behavior can prove problematic when in the company of other dogs, your family, visitors, strangers and friends.
Knowing the Triggers
To answer the question, ‘why is my dog so hyper all of a sudden?’ it’s important to know the potential triggers for their pumped-up behavior. Generally, hyperactivity in dogs can be caused by their breed, learnt behavior, lack of stimulation and insufficient exercise. Prolonged stress – whether that is environmental or emotional – can also up their tension and hyper levels. Other potential triggers for a dog to behave ‘hyper’ include:
- Past experience: Especially if they are a rescue dog or have been poorly trained or socialized.
- Lack of boundaries or routine: Insufficient exercise, little stimulation, and no discernible behavior boundaries or clear ‘pack leader’ and your dog could well start acting out on all that misdirected energy and frustration.
- Their diet: What they eat could lead to over the top behavior in your dog, in a similar way a processed diet can cause hyperactivity in children. Added sugar, artificial preservatives, flavors, and additives can all potentially trigger hyper traits in more sensitive canines.
- Undiagnosed conditions: It’s possible for an untreated medical condition to have an impact on a dog’s behavior and cause disobedience or aggressive defiance. Such conditions include diabetes or tumors so if you are concerned about any uncharacteristic hyper behavior, do get your pooch checked out.
Five Ways to Calm a Hyper Dog
However, there are techniques you can try to help tone down the behavior of a hyper pooch. Here’s our top five solutions to how to calm an over excited dog:
- Reduce their stress
While you may not be able to totally switch off their wired energy, you can influence your hyper dog’s environment and help reduce their stress. And a calmer, more settled dog means you can channel all that energy in a much more positive way. If you are dealing with a pooch that is consistently hyperactive, take a step back and look at what stressors may be causing it. Are they a new dog to your household and struggling to settle or understand where they fit in their new human pack? Have they a previous background – especially if they are a rescue dog – that could explain some of their wayward behavior? And could your home environment also be a trigger for their potentially stress-induced hyper moments?
As well as making any necessary physical adjustments to their environment that may be causing your pooch some stress, you should also consider your own emotions or behavior, as your dog may well be picking up on your own stress or mood and acting out in response. If you are anxious or nervous, these emotions may well be transferring to an already stressed out pup, escalating his hyper behavior so it’s essential that you work at portraying calm confidence when around your pet, so he can take the lead from his human ‘pack leader’. Having some regular quiet time with your pooch should also help in calming down his anxieties and get him used to just sitting with you and relaxing.
- Build a consistent routine
As well as looking at reducing your over-the-top dog’s stress, you should also work to create a regular and consistent routine. Hyperactivity can be a symptom of insecurity in your dog, particularly if they are a rescue and have been moved around, with little structure or routine. Developing a daily pattern and with consistent timings can go a long way to reassure your pet and for them to come to know – and trust – that all their needs are going to be met and that they are safe in their new human family. It can also go some way to reduce signs of separation anxiety as they will hopefully learn to know they will not be left alone and soothe their highly strung and potentially negative responses to a more manageable level.
- Provide enough exercise
When it comes to how to calm down a dog, you need to make a deal with him – you will always ensure he gets plenty of exercise! A good daily exercise session will do your pooch the world of good and will help to burn off a lot of that pent-up energy that’s making him more hyper than you would like. But don’t make his exercise and outdoor playtime too frenetic as this could wind him up further – a good idea is to build in some quieter ‘timeout’ moments into his exercise routine.
A long walk, interspersed with bouts of playtime and gentler bimbles so he can sniff and chill will help to work off excess energy, give him the physical work out he needs and also keep his fast-paced brain occupied.
Also, remember that a hyper dog is not just a pooch with bundles of energy, they are pets that are also prone to lack of concentration, are easily distracted and can be impulsive. So, pick your exercise location carefully, so that your pup has a safe space to run, can socialize if he wants and isn’t distracted (or stressed) by his surroundings, such as lots of people, noisy traffic or loud city sounds.
- Positive reinforcement for the right behavior
A hyperactive dog is most likely seeking your attention so by paying specific attention to their hyper moments, you could well be helping to reinforce the very behavior you are trying to stop. As long as you and your dog are safe, try to ignore their wild antics – that means no commands, touching or even eye contact until they settle down. Walking away, giving it a few moments then distracting them with a positive activity, will then hopefully take them out of their hyper moment and bring them back to heel. Now is the time to talk to them, praise them and positively reinforce their new-found impulse control. It is important to only ever praise and reward positive behavior and then move them on to something calmer but still fun.
You could also consider formal obedience training which can be effective in channeling all that energy into something more positive, productive and focused. Training your pooch to do the opposite of their negative behavior – to sit, for example for when they choose to jump up – can also make a difference, ensuring you lavish them with praise for the good behavior so they eventually associate being calm and well-behaved as the way to get your attention.
- Calming supplements and aromatherapy
With your pooch largely making sense of the world with his nose, there are some alternative therapies that can help a hyperactive or over-anxious dog. Aromatherapy is a popular alternative treatment for humans and is widely used to help soothe and calm anxiety, stress and nervous energy in a pleasant, scent-filled therapy. And there are some aromatherapy oils, such as lavender or chamomile, that can be particularly beneficial to some hyper pets. However, it is essential to go gently on the use of aromatherapy with dogs as they have a more highly developed sense of smell. Try using a diffuser in the sitting room or add some aromatherapy oil to your clothes when you settle down with your pooch and never directly apply to any part of their fur, face or body. If in doubt, seek guidance from your vet or suitably qualified animal therapist as to pet-safe aromatherapy oils to use.
Alternatively, as well as looking at their exercise, environment, stress levels and training, you could also consider using calming supplements as part of your strategy, including homeopathic or herbal remedies. When it comes to how to calm a hyper dog with medicine, your vet can also prescribe a course of anti-anxiety medication, specifically formulated for extremely stressed out or hyperactive dogs.
When it comes to your dog’s behavior you should never worry about seeking help as you want your pooch to live his happiest and best life possible. Your vet can check out your pet to rule out any physical or hormonal reasons behind their over-wired behavior or recommend where you can get additional professional help if obedience and training have become an issue. However, there is no one size fits all approach when it comes to your dog, and you may not want to train all of that energy and personality out of him. The key is balance and to achieve a calm, happy place for both you and your much-loved, bouncy pet.