Living with a hyperactive dog may be mentally draining for some pet parents. Their dog may be restless, hyperactive, and disobedient, almost like a child suffering from an attention deficit disorder. Often, sadly this results in dogs being surrendered at the shelter simply because their owners were incapable of dealing with their dog’s excess energy levels.
Often, owners find themselves in such a situation because they did not sufficiently do research before deciding to adopt a dog. They make bad choices because they naively fall in love with a puppy or dog without thinking it over carefully.
This scenario happened, for instance, when the 101 Dalmatians movie came out in 1996, and new Dalmatian owners shortly thereafter surrendered their Dalmatian dogs ‘because they did not act like Pongo.’ Same thing when Legally Blonde and Beverly Hills Chihuahua came out.
Consider the Breed of the Dog
While any dog can be generally hyperactive, some breeds appear to be more prone to this tendency. Some highly active dog breeds, for instance, are Australian Shepherds, Border Collies, Dalmatians, Siberian Huskies, Retrievers, German Short-haired Pointers, and Jack Russell Terriers.
Note how some of these dog breeds belong to the herding and working groups. These breeds were therefore genetically selected throughout the centuries for their high levels of energy and performance. Too bad that these qualities may no longer fit the urban lifestyle many people currently live in. With no more farm work, herding, or hunting jobs, these dog breeds have become unemployed and stressed.
Even small dogs like Chihuahuas, although more suited for city living, can be quite energetic.
Consider the Age of the Dog
Puppies and young adults have a lot more energy than older dogs. Most dogs calm down by age 3. But some never do. I have a 4-year grand-dog that is a Frenchy that is still quite hyperactive and energetic.
How to Deal with a Hyperactive Dog
So how to deal with these poor dogs? How can their energy levels be lowered and their hyperactive minds soothed?
There are many ways to calm down highly active dogs and give them a chance to live their lives as they should.
Let your dog focus for some brief training sessions no longer than three minutes. Teach your dog to sit and teach him that great things happen when he is calm. One important command to master is the stay command; this will help your dog be under control and focus on you. As your dog progresses, make the sessions longer.
Recommended Reading: 4 Best Tips For Training Your New Chihuahua
Often pet parents share part of the blame when they own a hyperactive dog. They may be petting their dog when they are in an excited state of mind rewarding the behavior and making the dog more likely to engage in such behaviors. Try to pet your dog when they are calm and sitting nicely. Ignore them when they are jumping and barking at you for attention.
If you work a long shift, hire a dog walker that can help rid your dog of excess energy. If you have enough time, walk your dog twice a day and then invest some time in playing some games at home such as fetch. Take your dog swimming or engage him in some interesting competitions. There are some great indoor games to play with your dog too. Anything to make your dog tired productively.
A tired dog is a good dog.
Good Training Tools
Very likely, a hyperactive dog is one that will mercilessly drag you around the block. Even tiny chis will try to do that.
Stay away from negative reinforcement training tools such as choke or prong collars. Invest instead in a harness. These tools may help you gain more control and respect from your dog.
If you find yourself in difficulty, you may have a challenging case on your hands. Ask your vet for a referral for a good dog behaviorist.
Training and behavior modification may help, but in some cases, dogs may require medication in addition to a training program and behavior modification program.
While hyperactivity in a dog may be due to a lack of exercise and lack of sufficient mental stimulation, owners should consider that in some rare yet possible cases, hyperactivity may be considered a sickness.
Owners of hyperactive dogs that engage in tail chasing, chronic panting, restlessness, and frantic behavior should be assessed by a veterinarian. They may be dealing with a bad case of hyperkinesis, that is, the canine equivalent of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. This can be treated with medication and training.
If your dog is hyperactive, try some of the suggestions above before throwing in the towel and giving up on your fur buddy. Dogs are family and we should love them unconditionally.
Have you had to deal with hyperactivity in your dog? What helped them (and you) to deal with it?