Let’s face it, dogs can be a real handful at times. As much as we love them and their boundless energy, it can be tough to rein them in. More likely than not, we’ve all seen a hyper pooch wreck furniture, tear up the garden, and jump all over everyone. There are many ways to calm an energetic dog and some are more natural than others. So, how can you naturally calm a hyper dog? Many owners find success by creating structure and stimulating their dog’s mind, along with plenty of exercise, and natural supplements.
How Can You Tell If Your Dog Is Hyper?
First thing’s first, it’s important that we take a moment to define the words hyperactive and hyper. Generally, these words are used interchangeably; however, within the context of this post, let’s differentiate between the two:
- Hyperactive refers to clinical hyperactivity or hyperkinesis.
- Hyper refers to overactive or overly energetic dogs.
In other words, 1) is a medical condition while 2) is a personality trait.
Furthermore, famed animal behaviorist Karen Overall writes in her book Clinical Behavioral Medicine for Small Animals that actual clinical hyperactivity, sometimes referred to as hyperkinesis, is fairly rare. However, you can spot it with the following symptoms:
- Frenetic activity
- Impulsive behavior, such as running out into traffic
- Inability to relax completely, especially in familiar environments like the home
- Being overly reactive to regular stimuli, such as food, noises, or people
- An inability to focus on any task and an especially short attention span
- Physiological symptoms like elevated heart rate and heavy breathing, even when not active
Hyperkinesis is basically the canine form of human ADHD!
Keeping all this in mind, it’s more likely that your dog is simply hyper, meaning that they are overactive or overly energetic. This can still be a nightmare to deal with, so let’s examine some things that you can do to counter this exhausting behavior and calm your hyper dog.
Why Are Some Dogs So Hyper?
It’s important to understand that hyperactivity is a congenital condition that must be diagnosed and treated by a veterinarian. In other words, dogs are born with it and it requires fairly intensive treatment with amphetamine-type drugs in a veterinary setting. Interesting, these are precisely the same medications used in humans.
However, the reasons for a hyper dog are more varied, including:
The Dog’s Individual Personality
There are just some dogs that are bursting with energy while other ones are lazy all day, every day. Ultimately, most dogs will mellow with age, but their current surplus of energy may be proving very difficult for you as a pet owner.
If a dog has too little or too much stimulation, they can end up going a little stir-crazy. Ultimately, you want to provide them just enough to keep them occupied and work out their brains but not so much that they become total lunatics and start bouncing off the walls.
Not Enough Physical Activity
This is enormously important; remember, dogs are domesticated, but they’re still animals. Genetically speaking, they’re not very far from wolves or coyotes.
Uncertainty or Stress
Many dogs will respond to negative situations with hyper behavior; it’s the only way they know how to react. This is also true if they don’t have any structure or expectations for their behavior. Similarly, when dogs feel stress they can react in a hyper way.
Type of Breed
Additionally, the type of breed is also crucial. Let’s take a moment to list the 10 most hyper breeds, in alphabetical order:
- Australian shepherd
- Border collie
- Jack Russell terrier
- Labrador retriever
- Siberian husky
- Staffordshire bull terrier
Notice any similarities? Well, they’re all working dogs! That means they’re all breeds that were bred to do some specific job or series of jobs. Due to the nature of the dog-human relationship, most of those jobs are highly physical in nature. Think herding, hunting, retrieving, sled-pulling, and so on. Just like any person who is especially devoted to their career, working dogs feel the need to work and burn their energy off.
5 Ways How to Calm a Hyper Dog
So now that we’ve established that there is a difference between hyper and hyperactive dogs, and that hyperactive dogs need serious treatment, how do you calm a hyper dog down? This question is important, because ultimately there are far more hyper dogs than hyperactive dogs. Remember, clinical hyperactivity in dogs is exceedingly rare – much rarer than, say, ADHD in humans.
So let’s go over 5 different ways you can calm a hyper dog down:
#1 Exercise Releases Energy
This is a big one; exercise will go a long way in calming your hyper dog down. A long walk in the morning, anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes, and then a shorter one in the evening, 15 to 30 minutes, is honestly the minimum amount of time for most breeds of dogs.
#2 Alphas Create Structure
Dogs are, by their very nature, hierarchical animals. They crave structure, direction, and an alpha to lead the pack. That means you have to be that alpha! It’s best to maintain a routine that is fairly stable – you don’t have to be a tyrant about it. Consider this: if you’re not particularly good at creating structure in your own life, perhaps getting a dog will inspire you to change. As the old saying goes: necessity is the mother of invention.
#3 Use Obedience/Training to Calm a Hyper Dog
Remember, dogs are pack animals, meaning that they have to be properly socialized and trained. They also need structure and clear expectations for how they should behave. If they don’t know that they can’t run rampant through the house then you can’t really blame them for not knowing. Ultimately, you must be the alpha and you teach them how to behave.
#4 Toys/Puzzles Stimulate the Mind
I’m sure we’ve all seen just how much dogs love their toys. In fact, many dogs will actually bring you their toys as a sign of their loyalty since they are literally the most valuable things that the dog has; they’re essentially paying tribute to you, the alpha and leader of the pack. Get puzzle toys like Kongs or Buster Cubes, fill them with your dog’s food, and then have them manipulate the toy to get a little piece of food. These will keep your dog occupied for hours!
#5 Supplements Can Calm a Hyper Dog
There are a number of supplements/treats on the market, but the most promising are those that have cannabidiol (CBD). This is an extract of the cannabis plant with a variety of beneficial elements but it does not cause intoxication like marijuana does. This is good because dogs don’t usually respond well to intoxication; they may become aggravated due to the confusion. Many of these supplements will contain other active ingredients, including l-theanine, chamomile, flaxseed, and hemp seed powder.
Applying Multiple Strategies
Implementing these 5 strategies is an excellent way to calm your dog down. Furthermore, you can also adhere to the American Kennel Club’s concept of STAR that they use to educate dog owners on how to best raise dogs. STAR is an acronym that stands for:
- Responsible owner
This entire STAR philosophy can be helpful when dealing with a hyper dog. Granted, it won’t singlehandedly solve the problem, but if properly integrated with the 5 tips above, you just may end up with a calm, collected, and cool dog. Don’t give up hope; unless they have hyperkinesis, pretty much every dog can be trained with enough patience and love.
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Written by Joe Farber at www.holistapet.com