How to Calm a Hyper Dog

Friday, November 10, 2017 12:44:00 PM America/Los_Angeles

Some dogs, unfortunately, are dropped off at animal shelters because of hyperactivity-caused behavior problems.  In fact, throughout the country, animal shelters are full of canines that barked too much or at the wrong time, chewed or seriously scratched things they were not supposed to mess with, dug up flowerbed or fancy gardens, urinated or defecated at the most inappropriate places, bit people, or simply behaved like inconsiderate, clownish or untrustworthy “mutts.”  

While there are many reasons why a dog might misbehave, one reason that applies more often than people realize is simply too much energy and not being given the opportunity, training or facilities to properly release that pent-up energy.  The point is that these animals are usually not “vicious” or “untrainable” or “hopelessly destructive.”

In fact, there is usually something feasible, affordable and constructive that can be done on behalf of these animals—if only their owners had known better.

hyper dog

By anetapics via Shutterstock



 Actually, another way to word the above subtitle is “How to Deal with a Dog That Is Hyperactive.”  Then again, these are not the same things. 

The former deals with preventative steps that you may take to keep your dog from become hyper; the latter deals with solutions for dogs that are already afflicted.  The good news, though, is that most of the following solutions apply for either scenario. The point is that there are things that you can do to adequately address this problem. 

Having said that, here are some caveats to keep in mind:


  • Some breeds of dogs are more naturally hyperactive.  These include hunting dogs, dogs that were bred for work (not to sit around a home being “obedient”) and dogs that are being abused or wasted if not given at the very least some playtime or, in some cases, a purpose in life beyond cuddling with you.
  • All dogs need some exercise . . . some people can easily mistake a simple desire to get that essential exercise for hyperactivity. 
  • Healthy dogs will generally want to engage in physical activities for at least a few hours each day . . . in fact, in this regard, it’s in a dog’s best interest to be what some people may mistakenly call “hyper.” Knowing this, a responsible owner should want his/her dog to be at least slightly “hyper.”  What’s the alternative? A “lethargic” dog?
  • Be careful what you label as “hyperactive.”  Many children, in spite of the fact that we have mental health professionals that are supposed to make sure that this doesn’t happen, get inaccurately labeled as “hyperactive.”  Why should it come as a surprise that animals may also be misdiagnosed?
  • Even if your dog is genuinely “hyper,” it’s unlikely that he/she is suffering from an incurable mental disorder, although some people seem to act accordingly.
  • Whatever you do, don’t give up on an animal, especially if you have come up with a conclusion that hasn’t been confirmed by an expert and you haven’t taken any legitimate steps to overcome or resolve the problems.
  • Beware of the fact that some dogs have been victims of abuse, neglect or kept in cages for too long.  These animals have issues that probably haven’t been dealt with.  Their hyperactivity may simply be an abnormal reaction to some difficulty they faced in the past.  If so, what these animals need is patient tolerance and lots of love, not to be dropped off at some shelter or, worse yet, being


With these things in mind, here some of those solutions:

--Make sure your dog is getting an adequate amount of exercise for its breed, size, health status, age and home environment.

As most vets will tell you, all dogs need exercise—of course, some more than others.  Simply untying your dog in the backyard may not be enough.  You may have to physically walk him or her, preferably when you may be going for a walk or jog yourself.  In most cases, you can “fatigue” bad behavior out of many dogs.

 Whatever you do, don’t think of this as a boring chore.  How about teaching your pet some tricks, turning the whole thing into a game (e.g., catching a frisbee) or teaching him/her to use a treadmill, maybe as you yourself get some exercise?


--Work on establishing some kind of regular routine.

 Animals, like people, need structure, continuity, and practices/places they can get used to and learn to appreciate.  Your dog may simply be hankering for better days (when his/her owner actually took a more active role in his/her life) or following a special instinct. 

 Take a retriever or hound, for example; these animals were once a upon a time used primarily, if not exclusively, for hunting.  Don’t you think these breeds instinctively miss those days, even if they never went hunting in their lives.  Active dog lives, quite simply, are in their genes.


--Get your animals the right type of playing toys and tools.

 Your dog may simply be bored.  Some people think that something like a chewing bone may be enough to keep a dog occupied but animals lose interest in things, just like we do.  Besides, there are toys that are more likely to make your pet burn some energy—thereby making them less hyper.  Consider, for example, smart toys that continuously challenge a dog or force an animal to stay focused, occupied and active.


--Trick & Obedience Training

 In many instances, dog misbehavior is a direct result of no behavioral training at all, an owner that sends them mixed signals (like rewarding them when they misbehave or appearing to be angry at them when they do the right thing) or simply never having been taught limits and guidelines on proper behavior.

 If you have to, hire someone that can teach your animal proper behavior, especially regarding commands you give and expectations you may have.  Dogs can’t read your mind—it’s up to you to teach them what’s right and what’s wrong.


--Find something that you can do together with your animal.

You may have to join a dog misbehavior support group or find a park full of knowledgeable people and other animals that can teach your dog proper behavior simply by not doing what he/she wants to do.  More importantly, these groups and places may inspire you to pick up a sport or activity that you can do together with your animal. 

 Again, don’t think of this as a boring chore but, rather, as an opportunity  to do something fun with an animal that you love a lot and want the best for.  Some possible activities include flyball, agility, disc/freestyle dog, etc. 


--Ignore the misbehavior.

Your dog may simply be looking for attention. If you react to their misbehavior, that is a signal to them that by misbehaving they can always get your attention. Naturally, this isn’t the type of message you want to send your dog.  Instead, ignore the misbehavior.  When they see that they aren’t pulling your chains, you will be in a better position to teach them proper behavior on your terms.


--Put your dog to work, especially if he/she is of a breed that expects to stay busy.

 You may have to get creative but there are things that your dog can do that will keep them busy and out of your hair.  Simply Google activities that you may occupy your dog with every day.


--Retrain yourself.

Unfortunately, the owner may be the problem—not the dog.  It may be that it is things that you are doing which are triggering the misbehavior.  Are you sending the dog wrong signals? Did you fail to buy him/her a pet potty?  You may have to consult an expert in order to answer this question but this is a point worth pursuing or investigating.


--Give your dog animal companionship (and more potty pads or eco-friendly indoor grass for dogs, if necessary).

 It may be that your animal is in need of a play friend.  If you can’t have another pet your dog can play with (or share indoor dog potty grass with), then take him/her to a park where they can meet “friends” they may hit it off with.


--Involve your animal more into your life.

 If your animal is too hyper when they see you (such as when you get home), then maybe they aren’t seeing you enough.  How about changing that.  Only you can change that problem



 Your dog isn’t, in most cases, mentally ill  or in need  of pee pads if he or she happens to be “hyper” at times.  In fact, what some people call “hyper” may more accurately be called “playful” or “energetic” or “neglected.” 

Rather than giving up on your dog or deciding that the problem is too serious to deal with, contact an expect to see if you need guidance.  Otherwise, follow some (if not all) of the suggestions above.  With luck, you will “cure” your dog.