How to Calm a Hyperactive Dog
Many dogs are characterized as "high-energy", whether based on their breed or just their own temperament. An energetic dog may need extra time on walks or a few additional rounds of catch at the dog park.
A hyperactive dog, however, isn't just a pet that needs to blow off a little extra energy. Hyperactive dogs truly have trouble calming down, seem to need more physical activity than any owner can give, and may have difficulty learning simple commands.
While a dog's hyperactivity can be frustrating, there are many strategies for owners to try. Here are some simple changes to you can make in order to help curb your pet's hyperactivity.
Are you and your pet ready for the upcoming tick season? Download our free guide to make sure that you're both prepared.
Give Hyper Dogs a Job
Most dogs respond very well to being put to work, and part of a hyper dog's anxiety may come from not having enough "work" to do. You don't have to live on a ranch or be a firefighter to give your dog a satisfying job. You could train him to bring you items around the house, have him wear a backpack with water bottles during your walks, or start some focused training like nose work.
Consider Your Own Energy
We know our pets are sensitive to our own emotional ups and downs. How many times has your dog come over to comfort you in a time of sadness? If your dog seems especially anxious, overly sensitive, and/or hyperactive, it's worth considering your own state of mind as well.
Are you feeding your dog's problematic tendencies? Calming yourself down probably won't make your dog's hyperactivity go away completely, but it's a good starting point to get you both into a better mood.
The evidence isn't yet completely clear that there's a correlation between diet issues and anxiety, so discuss this with your vet. At the very least, improving your dog's diet can clear up any digestive issues that might add to her sensitivity.
A Natural Boost
Some trainers and dog owners swear by pheromones, like DAP (dog-appeasing pheromone), that can help calm a hyper dog. Others try essential oils and other herbal remedies. There are new calming probiotics on the market as well. We have found that supplements with B vitamins, green tea extracts, colostrum, and milk casein have helped many of our patients.
It's worth talking to your vet first before trying any of these kinds of remedies, and be on the lookout for any adverse reactions in your dog when starting them.
The Thundershirt is a popular dog therapy device that provides calming pressure when worn. As the name implies, it's often used to help dogs through their fear of thunderstorms, but can also come in handy for stressful situations like car travel or kennel stays. It may not be a total solution for a dog who is hyperactive all the time, but could help calm the dog down for training sessions.
For a dog whose hyperactivity doesn't respond to calming techniques, changes in diet, or training, vets and owners may discuss prescription anti-anxiety drugs. Owners are sometimes reluctant to try these drugs, but they have been proven to be safe and effective when used properly.
Rule Out Other Issues
No matter which strategies you chose to work with your hyperactive dog, it's also a good idea to have a thorough health checkup with your vet just to rule out any issues that might be contributing to your dog's behavior. There are metabolic and neurological disorders that could show up as hyperactivity, and chronic pain could add to a dog's anxiety or sensitivity.
By being patient, trying different strategies, and working with your vet and a good trainer, you should be able to help your dog lessen their hyperactive behavior and anxious tendencies. Contact us today if you have any concerns about your dog's health.
About Dr. Natalie Waggener
Dr. Natalie Waggener has 17 years of experience in emergency work and general practice in Rhode Island, Florida and Massachusetts. She has a special interest in dentistry, wellness care and rehabilitation therapy. She is currently licensed in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island.