6 Ways to Manage a Hyperactive Dog
So you think you have a hyperactive dog?
After all, if you locked me in a room with four white walls, a sofa and carpet and no other stimulation and left me there day in and day out…. I would shred the sofa and rip up the carpet and probably punch holes in the wall for entertainment!
Think about it…
No cell phone, no TV, no books, and no one who is really interested in interacting with you; what would you do?
Our minds and our bodies need stimulation to flourish. You don’t want a zombie dog.
But clinically, there are some real hyperactive dogs.
Dogs who seem hyperactive have been proven to be hyperkinetic which means they are reactive to new and exciting things.
Hyperkinetic dogs are typically over 3 years old and have increased respiratory and heart rates, poor body condition scores, reactivity and agitation. These dogs are emotionally aroused by simple stimuli and often stay in a state of arousal long after the stimulus is removed.
A boarded veterinary behaviorist can diagnose or rule out true hyperkinetic dogs. They will run blood work to test thyroid, for allergies and other conditions that may be the cause of some of these behaviors. Any physical cause needs to be effectively treated or managed.
Here are some ways to manage a hyperactive dog:
6. Research Has Shown that the Quality of Food Matters.
People are treating human diseases such as cancer with specific diets that reduce the body’s dependence on sugars and hormones and utilizes a more simple and healthy approach to food.
The same can be said for your dog’s diet.
Avoid genetically modified foods.
And, avoid high fat and extremely high protein diets (unless you have a dog that is working 8 hours a day; i.e. police dog, hunting dog, or ranch dog) both are not good for your dog’s wellness.
Dogs need a well balanced diet.
Before going to a raw or B.A.R.F diet or changing your dog’s food speak with a boarded veterinary behaviorist to learn the latest science behind nutrition and how it affects high energy dogs.
You can also seek the advice of a veterinary nutritionist.
Be cautious, the sales person at the big box pet food store may seem like he has all the answers, but he has been indoctrinated by the brand he is pushing. Remember dogs are omnivores and they need a variety of things and nutrients in their diets to remain healthy.
Don’t fall for all the “grain free/gluten free” hype.
5. Discuss Supplements and Homeopathic Help.
Nutramax has spent thousands of dollars and hours researching supplements that can not only help your dog with his behavior problems; but they have also done research ensuring these supplements can be absorbed and utilized by your pet’s body.
Just because a supplement works for and is safe for humans does not mean it will work for or the same, or be safe for your dog to consume. In my opinion, research is essential and Nutramax is great about making their science and research easily found as proof for their products (normally sold by your veterinarian).
I personally have seen the benefits of Solliquin which contains L-theanine, tryptophan, and a very specific whey protein.
Adaptil is a pheromone that can help dogs relax.
Melatonin, Chamomile, Valerian Root, flower essence and essential oils have also been shown to make a difference in some dogs.
But, always seek the advice of your veterinarian before giving your dog any drug or supplement. They can research the effectiveness and provide you with an appropriate dosage for your dog’s weight.
Consider running a Canine Microbiota Dysbiosis Index Test (ask your vet) so that you can provide a healthy probiotic supplement to support your dog’s intestinal health. Having an unhealthy or lack of balance in a dog’s gut has been proven to lead to other health and behavior related problems.
4. Find Your Dog a Hobby!
If your dog hasn’t already been through an obedience class, or hasn’t been to an obedience class in years, start there first.
Find something that will entertain your dog that he will love and excel at.
Dog sports are so much fun!
3. Focus on the GOOD Behaviors!
Reward the behaviors you want to see and shape your dog’s behaviors.
Don’t “wait” for bad behaviors, instead teach your dog the things you want him to do and your expectations.
If he knows what you want, and those things are rewarding, he will begin to choose those behaviors.
2. Provide Your Dog with Exercise!
High energy dogs need an outlet for their energy.
You would not expect a 3 year old toddler to sit still all day, without exploring or getting into things.
Kids need physical exercise.
Dogs need physical exercise.
I hook my dogs up to a recumbent trike and let them run.
1. Mental Stimulation is the MOST Crucial Way To Help a Hyperactive Dog!
Dr. Ian Dunbar (one of my favorite behaviorists) says that mental exercise tires a dog physically more than physical exercise does!
That is impressive stuff!
Dogs need obedience training.
They need sports.
They need puzzles and games.
And, even things to chew on can sometimes stimulate them mentally.
Remember me alluding not allowing your toddler to exercise?
Now imagine not allowing your toddler to play or learn or stimulate his mind.
Can you imagine?
No books, no toys, very little verbal interaction or teaching.
That would be cruel.
Dogs, too, need to be stimulated mentally.
If we don’t provide it for them through physical and verbal interaction and learning and rewarding good behavior, our dog will provide it to themselves through chewing and shredding and barking and digging and jumping and acting a fool.
Hyper or high energy dogs are often mentally more intelligent than their counterparts.
They are not fulfilled sitting and playing with a few toys or chewies.
They should be taught mental exercises and games!
The truth is it doesn’t matter what you teach them:
Impulse Control Games
Or even a hand stand up the wall…
The important thing is that you are teaching and providing that mental stimulation that will make them happy!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.