Dealing with a hyper German Shepherd (puppy) is like a double-edged sword:
It can be funny (for the first few times). But when it continues for too long it becomes annoying.
In this article you’ll discover:
- How your actions can accidentally cause your pooch to be hyper.
- 25 simple things you can do immediately to calm down your furry friend.
- How to keep your German Shepherd (puppy) calm and engaged in an activity without even playing with them.
- Which type of music to play to your dog (hint: your favorite one might not be suitable).
- And more…
Table of contents
- Why is my German Shepherd so hyper?
- How do you calm down a hyper German Shepherd?
- How do you figure out if your German Shepherd is hyperactive or happy?
- 25 tips on how to calm down a hyper German Shepherd (puppy)
- What research has to say about dogs and music
- #8: Give them a chew toy
- #9: Play with your puppy
- #10: Do not leave them in crate for a very long time
- #11: Let them have their ‘me time’
- #12: Tire them out physically
- #13: Tire them out mentally
- #14: Check their food
- #15: Take them for a ride
- #16: Arrange playdates
- #17: Teach them some manners
- #18: Give them a piece of your used clothing
- #19: Give them puzzle toys
- #20: Teach them obedience training
- #21: Learn a new sport or game
- #22: Check with the vet
- #23: Build a routine or structure
- #24: Be their mirror
- #25: Patience and consistency are important
Why is my German Shepherd so hyper?
Your German Shepherd is so hyper because of lack of stimulation and excess energy. These happen if they don’t get enough exercise to release energy. Other factors include boredom, frustration and anxiety.
How do you calm down a hyper German Shepherd?
You can calm down a hyper German Shepherd through physical exercise and mental stimulation. This could be in the form of short walks and play sessions. Other ways to calm them down include giving them a chew bone or puzzle toys.
Sometimes dog owners fall victim to misinterpreting a dog’s behavior.
What they assume as a sign of happiness is actually hyperactivity. Thus, they end up rewarding and reinforcing unwanted behaviors.
Did you know that being hyper could lead to aggressive behavior?
How do you figure out if your German Shepherd is hyperactive or happy?
It can be confusing to tell.
But don’t worry because there are ways to make the distinction. A happy puppy has:
- A relaxed body.
- A high and waggy tail.
- Floppy ears that are relaxed and rest against the sides of their head.
Aside from these, a happy dog leans into your hand when you pet them. They also love to do the ‘play bow.’ It’s when they lean on their elbows with their rear up in the air. This is an indication of a happy mood.
On the other hand, a hyperactive puppy shows any of these signs:
- Nipping or biting.
- Chewing at things.
- Spinning in circles.
- Jumping or lunging.
- Pulling on the leash.
- Running around uncontrollably.
- Engaging in rougher play than usual.
- Excessive barking, yipping and snarling.
25 tips on how to calm down a hyper German Shepherd (puppy)
#1: Ignore them when they’re hyper
Dogs absolutely love attention. And if you keep giving it to them, they’ll always ask for it.
Even in hyperactive ways.
To stop this bad behavior, curb it as soon as they display it. It’s the part where you ignore them.
Try doing it when you come home. If they jump at you, turn away from them. Then walk away.
Another scenario to ignore their bad behavior is meal time. You know how it is most of the time. It can feel like you’re feeding wild animals.
That’s because dogs can get crazy in overexcitement. They may knock the bowl out of your hand and scatter food everywhere. Frustrating, right?
But it doesn’t have to be a frenzy every time. Use meal times to teach them manners and self-control.
Here’s how you can do it (I’ll use jumping as an example):
- You go to where the dog food is. As soon as they jump all over you, go back to what you were doing. Ignore them until they calm down.
- Wait a few seconds, then go back to the dog food.
- If they display the same behavior, ignore them again and wait until they calm down.
- If you have reached the part of pouring the food before they jump, put the bowl out of reach. Then go back to what you were doing and ignore them.
- Repeat until you can give the food without them jumping all over.
You can do this for other bad behaviors such as excessive barking.
Caution: Dogs go through ‘extinction burst.’ This is when they do something longer before they quit. So don’t give up and have more patience.
#2: Give them something to do
What do you want them to do while waiting for them to calm down?
If they display other bad behavior such as barking, now’s the time to work on it. Follow the same steps above.
Or, you can teach them to sit and wait for their food. Do this when they have calmed down from jumping and barking. Their meal would serve as their reward.
#3: Reward calm behavior
Your German Shepherd can grow big and heavy. Can you imagine all 80 pounds (36 kilos) of them jumping all over you?
A calm, submissive and happy dog is every dog owner’s wish.
Your German Shepherd puppy is not far from that. Every time they display a calm state, reward them with lots of ‘good boy’ or ‘good girl.’
But is it advisable to give them attention once they have calmed down? Would it make them hyper again?
One of my friends owns a dog named Oreo. She was worried that rewarding Oreo with attention might make the dog jump at her.
Turns out my friend’s fear was unfounded. She tried it on Oreo, and the dog simply looked at her with the tongue out. The dog even calmly lay down for a belly rub.
If it worked on this dog, you can try doing it on your own dog. Reward them with attention and see if your dog remains calm.
I do not guarantee that they will always remain calm. But if they become hyper in response, go back to tip #1.
Aside from attention, you can also reward them with treats. They’ll associate being calm with getting the good stuff. That’s how smart German Shepherds are.
Note: A calm dog is a happy dog.
#4: Take them on a walk
Walks are a great way to calm a hyper puppy. But it’s not wise to take them on an hour walk immediately.
I’m sure this brings a lot of questions in your mind. Such as, ‘How long can my German Shepherd puppy walk?’ Or, ‘How many times can I take them for a walk each day?’
The Kennel Club UK suggests doing 5 minutes exercise per month of age. Your dog can do this up to twice a day until they are fully grown.
For example, 3-month old pups can take a 15-minute walk. Or you can divide it to walking (10 minutes) and fetch (5 minutes).
Gradually increase the time while the puppy grows.
But as owners found out, not all German Shepherd puppies are the same. How long puppies can walk depends on their limits.
Some can do 10-minute walks 2-3 times a day at 2 months old. Others can only do one 10-minute walk together with other exercises.
So the best way to determine the length of walks is to look at your puppy’s limit. At first, you can do 10-minute walks twice a day. If they’re still full of energy, make it 15 minutes per walk. Or you can add another 10-minute walk.
Caution: Do not push puppies too hard at a young age. If they get tired, stop the walk and let them rest.
In addition to walks, do short play sessions in the park or mental exercises at home. Then build on these walks and play sessions as your puppy grows.
#5: Give them a job
A German Shepherd puppy will love a job, no matter how small.
By having a job, hyperactive behavior is slowly eliminated. That’s because they need to focus on the task at hand. So their energy is redirected to more productive things.
An example is putting away their toys. After playing with them, tell them to ‘clean up.’
Of course, you need to train them first before they can do it on their own. It might take a few tries.
But with the right motivation, German Shepherds will learn it. Remember, they are smart and can learn tricks in a few tries.
Another example is playing scent games. German Shepherds are very good at this. So good that police use them to sniff and identify bombs and other dangerous items.
Let them prove their skill at home. Hide items such as anise and clove. If you have a yard, you can do it there. If not, right inside the house will do fine.
The scent games help to work your dog’s body and mind. Plus, it’s a satisfying job.
Another job you can give them is carrying things. German Shepherds love to please their owners. So carrying things for you will be a very important job for them.
They can learn carrying things through the Fetch Method. This is basically how it goes:
- Place the item in front of your dog and encourage them to ‘pick it up.’ When they follow, give them a treat.
- Repeat until they pick the item every time. Then reward them.
- Move a few feet away and have them bring the item to you. Reward with treats and lots of ‘good job’ or ‘good boy/girl.’
- Encourage them to pick up the item and take it to a certain spot. Then ask them to ‘give’ you the item. Reward them accordingly.
- Have them carry the item as you walk around the house or outside. Always reward with praises and tasty treats.
When they’ve learned the trick, have them carry grocery bags from the car. Or firewood from the shed to the house.
Just like what Dugan did:
This trick also comes handy when you’re hiking. Let your German Shepherd carry their own water and treats in a small backpack. The extra weight will help tire them out.
#6: Use calming scents
A German Shepherd’s nose is their primary sense organ. Use that to everyone’s benefit in this tip.
Now, different scents have different uses. Rose is good for reducing anxiety. Rosemary, on the other hand, works to reduce tension and fatigue.
Lavender and Roman chamomile will work wonders for your hyper German Shepherd. Lavender promotes relaxation and sleep while chamomile puts the mind at ease.
Caution: Scents are not applicable to dogs that have allergy to a particular scent. Consult with your yet. Ask your vet for recommendations for ones that can calm a hyper dog.
#7: Play calming music
A lot of studies support the findings that music has positive effects on babies.
Does music work the same way in dogs? Will they relax once they hear Beethoven or Mozart?
If you’re looking for the right kind of music to calm your puppy, try this:
As it turns out, some dogs become enamored with music. Particularly ones where they can sing along.
Just watch this German Shepherd lending their mad vocals to classical music:
I bet you couldn’t watch that without smiling.
What research has to say about dogs and music
There’s a science behind dogs relaxing to classical music.
This research observed 117 shelter dogs exposed to classical music, heavy metal and altered classical.
Here’s a compilation of the interesting results of the study:
- Dogs exposed to classical music spend more time sleeping and less time vocalizing.
- Dogs exposed to heavy metal display body shaking, suggesting nervousness.
Another study has the same findings. This one observed 2 groups of dogs. One group was observed with classical music. The other was observed in silence.
The study found out that when exposed to classical music, the dogs were calm. Their stress levels decreased significantly.
Not only that. Dogs were in a relaxed state (not standing up and not barking) while listening to music.
But why classical music? What’s wrong with hard rock or heavy metal?
The answer lies in the tempo.
Music with long, continuous tones (50-60 beats per minute) is relaxing. Think of classical, reggae and soft rock. This was proven to relax dogs.
On the other hand, music with short, choppy tones is excitatory. That includes hard rock and heavy metal. These have a faster tempo that caused an increase in anxiety and agitation among dogs.
In addition, heavy metal music has loud percussion that can frighten dogs. It’s the same effect that fireworks and thunder have on them.
#8: Give them a chew toy
What’s with dogs and chewing?
Some dogs love to chew on shoes all the time. Or they destroy blankets or the fabric of your sofa. This chewing obsession can drive anyone crazy.
Here’s an eye-opener for you: Chewing behavior is normal.
If your German Shepherd is a puppy, they could be teething. Chewing relieves any pain and discomfort associated with it.
On the other hand, older dogs chew to keep their jaws and teeth strong. This is what dogs in the wild do as well.
However, it becomes a destructive behavior if they direct it toward inappropriate items. In situations like this, dogs chew out of boredom or frustration.
Caution: Do not punish your dog when they chew inappropriate things. Never place them in their crate as punishment.
Teaching them what is okay to chew and what is not is one way to solve the problem. Another is to give them toys and chew bones.
In doing this, take note of the kind of toy they chew for long periods of time. If they love chew bones, then keep offering those.
However, here are a few reminders when your German Shepherd a bone:
- Give them raw meat bone.
- Let them chew on it for 10-15 minutes. Then store it in the refrigerator.
- Discard bones after 3 or 4 days.
- Always supervise your dog when chewing a bone.
- If your German Shepherd is an adult, give them a large bone.
Caution: Don’t give them cooked bones of any kind as these could injure your dog. They could chip their teeth while chewing. In addition, don’t let them chew bones into small pieces. These might cause blockages or damage the intestines.
#9: Play with your puppy
Play time is such an important part of a puppy’s life.
Your German Shepherd needs interaction to avoid boredom. This way, they redirect their energy to productive things.
Play can be in the form of physical or mental exercises. Play games such as Frisbee or fetch. Or teach them the shell game. It’s where you have 3 cups and you hide a treat under one of them.
You can also involve members of the family in the games. It’s more fun and your dog’s going to love the attention from everyone.
#10: Do not leave them in crate for a very long time
Your puppy can learn to love being in a crate. But they wouldn’t like being in it for a very long time.
Sometimes it’s necessary to leave your puppy in the crate for a longer time though. For instance, you need to go to work. By putting them in the crate, they won’t chew on inappropriate things.
Also, you can clean the house when they’re in the crate.
And this isn’t bad. Your German Shepherd has to know that the crate is their safe haven.
As such, they shouldn’t associate it with something unpleasant. Such as a punishment.
Caution: Leaving your puppy in their crate longer than 6 hours is not advisable.
It will only make them anxious. Staying in the crate too long will end up in pent up energy.
And once out of the crate, they are bent on releasing that energy.
When crate training your puppy, remember these:
- Ignore them when they cry while in the crate. Wait 20 minutes until they calm down.
- If they are just starting the training, it may be difficult at first. There are times when they cry in the middle of the night. But this gradually stops when they reach 3 or 4 months old.
Check out this guy’s tips when crate training puppies:
#11: Let them have their ‘me time’
A German Shepherd puppy can get attached to a human like velcro.
It is flattering to some extent. That level of attachment says a lot about the time you spend with them.
It only becomes a problem when they learn to crave for your attention. To prevent this, let them play on their own for a while.
This teaches them not to crave for your attention all the time. So when you have to leave for work, they don’t throw a fuss.
It’s better if they spend their ‘me time’ in the crate.
#12: Tire them out physically
What better way to drain that pent up energy than to exercise?
German Shepherds are basically tireless furballs. Lack of or insufficient exercise is one reason why they are hyper.
Take them walking early in the morning and late at night. Or take short walks throughout the day as long as the weather is good (check out tip #4 for more info).
The dog park can provide your dog a wide space to run to their heart’s content. They can also socialize and play with other dogs.
If you have a lawn, take your puppy out for some games. Play fetch or tug of war. Sky’s the limit when it comes to what games to play.
No yard? No problem. There are games you can do inside the house. You just have to be creative and make sure your dog doesn’t break things.
Swimming is also a fantastic exercise for your puppy. Let them swim in your pool or somewhere that allows dog swimming.
Aside from swimming, running will tire them out. However, there are important guidelines when doing this activity.
First, make sure your German Shepherd is 15 months old or older. By this time, their bones and muscles are fully developed.
Second, ensure that they are trained well. Basic commands such as sit, stay and stop go a long way for their safety.
Third, get them a clean bill of health by checking with the vet.
#13: Tire them out mentally
Just as physical activities are important, so is mental stimulation. Physical exercise and mental stimulation give you a tired, calm dog.
German Shepherds are highly intelligent dogs. Help them work their brains by giving them mentally stimulating activities.
Hide and seek is a fantastic example of this. It promotes physical exercise and reinforces the recall command.
To do this, distract your dog long enough for you to hide. You can throw a ball and have your dog run after it. Then find the best spot for hiding and call your pooch.
Just look at this adorable German Shepherd looking around the house for the owners:
As you can see from the video, the game is an opportunity for an exercise. The dog goes from room to room several times until they find the owner.
Not only that. It’s a mental exercise requiring the dog to use their nose.
You can imagine how challenging it is, because the owner’s scent is everywhere in the house. The dog has to work harder to find where the scent of the hiding owner is.
This game is also a nice way to teach your puppy their name. Don’t forget to give them a reward when they find you.
Speaking of reward, your puppy will enjoy the game ‘find the treats.’ Just hide tasty treats then put their noses to work.
This is mentally stimulating as your dog uses their nose to find each treat.
Note: Spend 30 minutes or more for mental exercises. You can also give them interactive toys to keep them busy.
#14: Check their food
What your puppy eats could be what’s making them hyper.
Food directly affects a dog’s behavior and health. You may unknowingly be feeding them with food that has unsafe ingredients.
Many dog foods are made with additives, preservatives and colorants. These have no nutritional value at all. If anything, these only make hyperactivity worse.
According to an article by canine nutrition expert Dr. Conor Brady, several things answer the question.
Let’s start with high chemical content. Many dog foods are made with chemicals to make them last longer. These are not safe.
Another reason is the high dose sugar and low dose protein. High dose sugar can spike blood sugar in humans. Imagine what it can do to a dog.
In addition, dog foods contain only the minimum amount of protein. Why is this so, when protein is the building block for serotonin and dopamine? Serotonin and dopamine are the happy and calming chemicals.
Lastly, dog foods contain low levels of vitamin B complex. This is responsible for energy levels and behavior. Also, B complex contains vitamin B6, which produces dopamine.
Note: Check with your vet regarding dog food that’s right for your puppy.
#15: Take them for a ride
This is a simple activity but goes a long way in tiring them out.
Of course, you need to teach your puppy first to love riding a car. There’s a very simple way to do this but requires repetition:
- Once the car is running, give your puppy treats and talk to them in a calm voice.
- Then switch off the engine.
Do this until your dog becomes comfortable riding a car.
This is also a huge opportunity to mentally stimulate them and tire them out.
During a ride, there are a lot of things for them to process. New smells, new faces. This could be a whole new experience altogether.
Note: Just make sure they’re having fun experiences.
You can drive to new places where you can run, walk or just explore.
And by the time you get back home, your German Shepherd is hopefully spent.
#16: Arrange playdates
There’s a lot your dog can get from socializing. It helps them learn who’s a threat and who’s not.
But, there’s one very important thing to consider. Because your dog is only a puppy, avoid exposing them to dog parks immediately.
It’s important that your dog completes all vaccines first.
Some dog diseases are highly contagious, such as parvovirus.
Also, dog parks are open to all dogs of breeds, sizes and temperaments. Some dogs could be rough or simply violent. There’s no guarantee everyone is friendly.
This could lead to a traumatizing experience for your puppy.
Caution: Ensure that socialization is a fun experience. But take them out of situations that frighten them.
What you can do, though, is to slowly introduce your dog to others. If you have many dogs, then it’s the perfect start for socialization.
If not, then perhaps a neighbor or a friend has a dog your puppy can meet. Arrange playdates if possible.
#17: Teach them some manners
No dog owner wants a hyper dog jumping all over them. Or barking right in their face.
One way to prevent this is to instill some manners in them. How? Teach them impulse control.
Impulse control teaches your dog how to engage with you. That is, without lunging, nipping or excessive barking.
Start by teaching them to say ‘please’ by sitting.
Make them sit before you open the door or clipping the leash. Before you give them dinner, wait for them to sit.
And when they do just that, reward them with what they want. They will associate sitting with getting what they want.
In a big way, this teaches them to calm down before they can have the good stuff.
Remember to be consistent on your part. Soon they’ll sit without waiting for you to ask them to.
#18: Give them a piece of your used clothing
Your German Shepherd puppy just loves your scent. It comforts them.
So when you have to leave, give them something such as a used shirt. When they are alone, having your smell will feel as though you are with them.
Don’t worry if it stinks. For your puppy, the stinkier, the better.
#19: Give them puzzle toys
Puzzle toys are lifesavers.
Some days going outside for walks or runs is not permissible. Puzzle toys will keep your German Shepherd busy and entertained.
The only downside is that they will tire of it after they have figured out how it works. So it’s important to keep a rotation of their toys.
#20: Teach them obedience training
Your German Shepherd puppy is an intelligent dog. That will get them through obedience training.
Obedience training should be taken early in a puppy’s life. That way, it can prevent behavioral problems later on.
This was exactly what this research found out. It studied 142 dogs divided into 4 groups: puppy class, puppy party, adult class and no class.
The puppy and adult classes underwent an hour of training each week for 6 weeks. The other 2 groups did not undergo formal training.
The findings showed that the groups that attended training responded well to commands. The puppy class group also showed positive responses to strangers.
The study concluded that this could prevent behavioral problems such as disobedience or fear of strangers.
In training, it’s important to consider the short attention spans of puppies. That being said, spend at least 30 minutes each day for their training.
Train them young starting with basic commands. These are useful commands that you can use at home or when outside.
Also, get them busy with leash and off-leash training. This is particularly useful for when you are taking walks or running.
Since obedience training uses focus, it’s a perfect way to tire them out mentally.
#21: Learn a new sport or game
Sports can help your German Shepherd puppy redirect their excess energy.
If you’ve got the time, enrol your puppy in dog sports. Think agility, flyball or disc dog. Getting involved together in sports can strengthen your bond.
In addition, these sports provide physical and mental exercise at the same time.
A word of caution, though. Formal training can be expensive and time-consuming. If you don’t mind enrolling your dog, then go right ahead.
But if you do, you can do the sports for fun.
#22: Check with the vet
Morning and evening walks, check. Daily running, check. Puzzles and toys, check.
Most of the time, exercises, training and activities solve the problem. But if your German Shepherd is still hyper, it could be a medical condition.
So check with your vet because the problem could be thyroid dysfunction, allergies and even ADHD.
Yes, you read that right.
ADHD is common in human children. Apparently, the same symptoms could be seen in hyper dogs.
One study in 2017 found out that social and physical factors were associated with ADHD-like behavior. ADHD-like behavior refers to inattention and increased motor activity.
The social factors mentioned were:
- Number of social contacts.
- Degree of affectionate behavior.
- The duration of the period of separation.
On the other hand, the physical factors were:
- Frequency and duration of walking.
- The amount of playtime as puppies.
For your peace of mind, have your vet run tests to rule out any problems.
#23: Build a routine or structure
Choose between building a routine or a structure. Either way, it will help toward calming your German Shepherd.
Some owners and dogs thrive on routine. It’s when you have a set schedule for activities. For instance, your German Shepherd eats their breakfast at 6am and 6pm.
On the other hand, structure is for people who dislike strict schedules. You can set a schedule for activities without being strict about the time.
For instance, your dog knows you will take them for a morning walk when you wake up. And not necessarily at 6am. This is great for days when you feel like sleeping in.
#24: Be their mirror
In some ways, the dog is a reflection of their owner.
Take some time to reflect on yourself. There could be problems at work or other stressors that keep you agitated.
Without you knowing, all these reflect on your body language and tone of voice. You reflect energy that your dog catches on.
#25: Patience and consistency are important
No dog owner is perfect.
One can easily give in to frustrations when training a puppy. But yelling and punishment will only make your puppy more hyper.
Also, be consistent. Stick to the rules you set for your hyper German Shepherd.
Anyway, your dog’s hyperactivity did not happen overnight. So fixing it will not happen overnight either.
But committing to do the right thing will get your dog to the result you want.