How to Calm a Hyperactive Dog

By Jane Williams


The differences between a high-energy dog and a hyperactive dog lie in the intensity of and reasons for their activity and behavior. High energy is inherent in many working breeds, while true hyperactivity is less common and is a medical condition. Hyperactive dogs exhibit unusual nervous energy and simply cannot sit still. This manic energy is often accompanied by anxiety, almost constant panting, an unusually high heart rate and inappropriate behavior. Working breeds such as the German shepherd, Labrador retriever, border collie and Jack Russell terrier, are naturally energetic and require a lifestyle matched to their activity level. Calming a dog you consider hyper can help him learn appropriate behavior and live a more relaxed life.

Step 1

Ignore the behavior. In some cases, your dog may just be looking for attention and acting out to get it. Do not respond to your dog as he runs circles around you and jumps for your attention. Redirect him if he engages in destructive behavior, such as chewing or digging. Play with him. To reinforce proper behavior, give him positive attention only after he has calmed down.

Step 2

Give your dog exercise matched to his energy level. All dogs need to move and play to work off excess energy. High-energy dogs need to move and play a lot more. A dog's hyper antics may simply be a sign that he needs more exercise. Take your dog out and let him run, play, fetch and chase toys to burn off his excess energy. Take him for a good walk, run, or bike ride, and get some exercise yourself at the same time. When you commit to owning a high-energy dog, you commit to an energetic lifestyle.

Step 3

Use calming products if you have an anxious dog with a high level of nervous energy. Use essential oils, herbs and retail products designed to enhance calm to encourage your hyperactive dog to relax. Use a few drops of lavender oil in a diffuser, offer your dog St. John's wort in a treat, or use a product such as Comfort Zone or Rescue Remedy to calm him. Wrap a towel around his upper body or use a Thundershirt to apply gentle pressure to create a feeling of comfort and calm. Consult your dog's veterinarian before using such products.

Step 4

Seek professional help. Sometimes nothing you do can calm a hyperactive dog effectively. Discuss the hyperactivity with a professional dog trainer to better assess the situation and get new ideas to help calm your pet. Take classes, and watch the trainer as she works with the dog. Reinforce the same techniques consistently at home. Some dogs need to be taught to release their energy in appropriate ways.

Step 5

Consult your veterinarian if no amount of exercise, training and reinforcement helps. Discuss your concerns, and get your dog a full checkup. He may require medication to help control his nervous energy and let him focus and behave properly.
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