There is little worse than a hyperactive, over-excitable dog, both for you and your pet.
A hyperactive pet is very rarely a happy one, and its inability to calm down is often caused by stress or other negative psychological triggers. For you, a hyperactive dog can be noisy, boisterous and cause annoyance or even danger – for example if you are trying to walk you dog near a road or transport it in your car.
As is clear, finding ways to eliminate this hyperactivity is therefore beneficial both for dog and owner. But what strategies can be employed?
Try Ignoring Your Dog
Many dogs respond to stimuli produced by their owner. In other words an excitable owner may unknowingly create an excitable dog. In many cases your pet is responding to your input, whether you realize this or not. So, one technique that can be beneficial is to experiment with changing the stimulus you are feeding your dog.
You have two possible alternatives. The first is to stop rewarding your dog with any kind of communication by just ignoring it. Whether you shut your dog in another room or remain in the same room but simply provide no verbal or visual contact with your dog is up to you; the end result is often the same.
The alternative solution is not to ignore your dog completely, but to instead attempt to project calmness onto your dog. You must become an actor, no matter how much your dog’s behaviour may be fraying your nerves, and instead act as calmly as you can around your pet. In many cases this will naturally soothe and calm your dog’s nerves.
Redirect Tension with Exercise
Try to remember the last time you heard an annoying noise. Perhaps a tap dripping at night. You didn’t want to get up to turn it off, but you knew you probably wouldn’t be able to fall asleep with it dripping away. The longer you leave such a stimulus, the more annoying it gets. You fixate on the problem and it just gets worse and worse.
Dogs very rarely become hyperactive without reason; there is almost always some external stimuli such as an unexpected or scary noise, such as the postman or fireworks. However leaving your dog to “stew” over whatever is causing the stress will only prolong the situation.
A better option is to redirect your dog’s attention away from the situation. In doing so you will lessen the stimuli – such as when you finally fall asleep after listening to the tap drip. The tap still be dripping but it no longer annoys you because your focus is elsewhere.
For dogs, an excellent way to redirect attention away from stressful stimuli is with exercise. Whether you take your dog for a walk, get his favourite toy out or just take part in some rough-and-tumble in the garden, exercise can work like magic.
Try out different strategies on your pet to see which exercises seem to have the most beneficial effect. And don’t forget that a useful side-benefit is that your dog will likely be tired after exercise, helping to keep them calmer for longer – and encouraging an early night’s sleep.
It is not unusual for puppies to be frightened of all sorts of stimuli; traffic, getting in the car, other dogs, other people, the vacuum cleaner and so on. Yet with time they get over this fear.
The reason that dogs (and humans) can get over their fears is through repeated exposure; when you’re constantly exposed to a stimulus but nothing bad ever happens (or sometimes even good things happen) then these situations become less and less scary.
If there are stimuli which are regularly sending your dog into an over-excited, hyper-active state then attempting to get your dog used to them can work very well. The key is to start off with a very low intensity and only for short bursts so as to not overly stress your pet.
If your dog becomes enraged by the vacuum cleaner, for example, you might opt to turn it on in another room every so often for a few minutes. Remain calm, and reward calmness in your pet with affection. Over time, bring the vacuum closer and closer, so that the sound is louder and louder, as your pet becomes “de-sensitized” to it through repeated exposure.
Once again it is essential to carry out this process over an extended period of time, responding to the behaviour of your dog, so as to not unnecessarily stress your pet.
Reduced Light Intensity
Diurnal species like humans and dogs are affected by daylight. As the sun starts to go down, so the hormones out body produces undergoes a change, in readiness for us falling asleep. This means that dim light can naturally calm and relax us, putting us into a sleepy state. The same can be said for dogs too.
In cases where your pet is struggling with anxiety, placing them into a darkened room can help to take the “edge” off their excitability and to slowly relax and calm down.
Herbal Calming Remedies
Finally when it comes to hyperactive dogs there are a number of naturally calming herbs that can help your pet to deal with stressful situations. Ask your local vet or pet store for recommendations on which calming medications are the most effectiveness.
While some dog owners in the past have shied away from “drugging” their pet, it is important to remember that not only are these remedies natural, but they can also to help your pet avoid the stressful situation which is otherwise causing them to misbehave.