Is the word ‘rest’ absent from your dog’s vocabulary?
Because they never run out of energy.
And they can’t stay still even for a few seconds.
Why are they like this?
Keep reading to discover:
- What causes dog hyperactivity.
- If it’s the same with ADHD in humans.
- 11 helpful tips on how to calm them down.
- How can you tell if a dog is hyperactive or not.
- And so much more…
Table of contents
- 5 things that can cause hyperactivity in dogs
- 17 hyperactive dog symptoms
- #1: Tachycardia
- #2: Hyperpnea
- #3: Excessive salivation
- #4: Fast energy metabolism
- #5: Short attention span
- #6: Hypervigilance
- #7: Sensitivity to sudden changes
- #8: Panting at rest
- #9: Neophilia
- #10: Difficulty in training
- #11: Overarousal
- #12: Easily bored
- #13: Destructive behavior
- #14: Impulsiveness
- #15: Aggression
- #16: Extreme friendliness
- #17: Constant attention-seeking behavior
- What can you give a hyper dog to calm it down? 11 tips
5 things that can cause hyperactivity in dogs
‘Hyperkinesis’ in canines (or the medical term for hyperactivity) is said to be similar to ADHD.
It’s also often confused with high energy. But they’re 2 different things.
The first one is a rare behavioral problem. And the latter is simply being in high spirits due to so much energy.
Dogs who are naturally energetic are said to be prone to this condition, like:
- German Shepherds (22%).
- Spanish Water Dogs (19%).
- Staffordshire Bull Terriers (18%).
- Border Collies & Smooth Collies (17%).
This is based on a study among 13,700 pet dogs in Finland.
For pure breeds, German Shepherds are the most hyperactive. But mixed breeds take the top spot with 23% among all dogs.
“But what’s the reason for this behavior?”
Researchers found that it might be due to altered dopamine receptors in their brains. As well as tyrosine hydroxylase.
They’re both connected to ADHD. And German Shepherds and Siberian Huskies also have these.
These 2 breeds are known for being impulsive and energetic.
#2: Lack of stimulation
A highly active pooch will need more exercise than other dogs. This means both physical and mental stimulation.
But what if their daily needs aren’t met?
Well, it may also result in hyperactivity.
Working breeds, in particular, love doing something. They were bred to hunt, retrieve, or herd.
Although they’re now pet dogs, they still have that instinct. So if this isn’t met, they’ll use their energy to do other things.
And as this continues, their behavior might get out of control.
#3: Social isolation
Being isolated is also one cause of hyperactivity.
“How is this connected?”
Research reveals that well-socialized dogs are calmer. While those who are always left alone or confined display more hyper behavior.
Canines are social animals. Most of them enjoy the company of humans. As well as other furry pals.
So if they only have limited exposure to them…
Isolated pups might become wary of strangers. Resulting in fear aggression and reactivity.
Or if they’re social, they’ll be so excited when they meet one. Hence, the hyperactivity.
You may also like: Why is my dog so hyper all of a sudden?
#4: Poor diet
“You are what you eat.”
This is also true for doggos.
The food they intake can dictate their energy, mood, and quality of sleep. And they’re all factors in hyperkinesis.
According to vets, these are the things that might cause hyperactivity:
- Fiber: Influences food-seeking behavior.
- Fats: Affect emotions and impulse control.
- Carbohydrates: Produce more energy. Cause fluctuating blood levels (related to stress).
Other unhealthy things in their food may also be the reason, such as:
You might also ask…
“Does high protein cause hyperactivity in dogs?”
According to PetMD and other vets, this is only a myth.
Because protein is needed to produce hormones like ‘serotonin’. Which is responsible for reducing stress in dogs.
So you don’t have to worry about feeding your pooch meat.
This can be true if they’re fed with high amounts of low-quality protein. Say from commercial dog food.
Don’t forget to check out: 11 Reasons Why Your Dog Is Hyper In The Morning + 3 Tips
#5: Unstructured early environment
Lastly, how a dog was raised will also affect their behavior later on.
This is why puppyhood is a crucial stage for them.
Based on AKC, training is needed within 7 to 9 weeks of age. And they’ll also start to develop fears from 8 to 11 weeks old.
So aside from socialization, pups also need to be guided in their early years. This is to avoid anxiety and hyperactivity.
They need to be aware of the rules and boundaries. Or else, they may act unruly and be uncontrollable in the future.
17 hyperactive dog symptoms
This is the term for increased heart rate even at rest.
Based on a study, this is one of the most crucial signs of hyperkinesis. So you can’t confirm if a dog is hyperactive just because they’re unable to sit still.
“What’s the normal heart rate in dogs?”
It’ll vary based on their size. The smaller they are, the greater it is.
This is measured by beats per minute (bpm). And PetMD states that it shouldn’t be higher than:
- 220 bpm – in puppies.
- 140 bpm – in giant dogs.
- 180 bpm – in toy breeds.
- 160 bpm – in standard-sized.
“How can you take a dog’s heart rate?”
According to Vetstreet, you need to:
- Put your hand on their left chest – behind the forelimb. Or, on the inside of their hind leg for the pulse. (Either way will work).
- Next, count the beats in 15 seconds. You can use your watch or smartphone’s timer for this.
- Then, multiply the number you got by 4 to know the bpm.
A rapid heartbeat also comes with deeper breaths – even while resting.
Vets say that dogs have a normal rate of 10 to 35 breaths per minute. So higher than this can be a sign of hyperkinesis.
“How will I measure this?”
Just count their chest movements in 15 seconds. Then multiply it by 4.
#3: Excessive salivation
Because of excitement, hyperactive dogs might also drool…a LOT.
Dr. Larry Baker explains that it’s connected to the nervous system.
Did you notice how we salivate when thinking of a steak? Or pizza?
Well, the concept is similar to that. But instead of food, they could be thinking of fun playtime.
You may also wonder: Why does my dog drool in the car?
#4: Fast energy metabolism
No wonder why hyperactive dogs are always in high spirits.
Because apparently, they convert food to energy quicker than the others. So they may get hungry faster.
And not gain weight although they eat from time to time.
#5: Short attention span
A hyperactive dog will find it hard to focus on one thing.
“But isn’t it the same for energetic Fidos?”
Those who are born active will also struggle to do it at first. But once they’re shown how to control their energy, they’ll be able to focus right away.
However, it’s a different case for hyperactive dogs.
Even if they wanted to, they still couldn’t concentrate. And it’s because they’re often aroused.
So some say they have the attention span of a goldfish.
Fun fact: Did you know that humans now have the shortest attention span? A study by Microsoft reveals that we beat the 9-second-span of a goldfish. From 12 seconds in 2000, it dropped to 8 seconds in 2013. And it was said to be due to the use of technology.
Dogs who have this condition will always be on high alert. And this is why they’re easily distracted.
They just couldn’t help but react to every stimulus around them.
No matter how trivial it is. Say a fallen leaf or even the sounds of dripping water.
#7: Sensitivity to sudden changes
Hyperactive dogs will also be anxious. So they’re always on the lookout.
They can’t easily adjust to the changes around them. Like sudden noises or the presence of unknown people.
As a result, they’ll be stressed for hours. Even if the trigger is already gone.
#8: Panting at rest
A dog panting even though it isn’t hot? Or even if they’re just lying down and haven’t done any exercise?
Experts point out that this is a sign of anxiety.
A hyperactive Fido may look like they have so much energy. But in reality, they’re stressed and can’t seem to calm down.
Read further: Why does my dog suddenly pant (heavily)?
You might have read that dogs are ‘neophiliac’ or fond of new things.
Well, it’s true. One study shows that 17 dogs all went and sniffed the new toys first. And didn’t pay much attention to the familiar items.
But for hyperactive dogs, this is more serious.
They can’t stand repetition. And they always look for something new.
This is why they’ll also experience…
#10: Difficulty in training
The behaviors mentioned earlier will make training hard for these dogs.
One, they can’t focus. Two, their mind is always on something else. Three, they don’t like repetitive tasks.
So even the basic “sit” command will take them so long to understand.
It’s definitely a thing with hyperactive dogs. (And it isn’t because of too much coffee!)
They’ll not often sit or settle down. And they may sleep less or lightly due to their constant arousal.
#12: Easily bored
Next, a hyperactive pooch will always have to do something.
They get bored pretty fast – especially if they’re left alone. So they’re often in the quest for an interesting activity.
And if they can’t find anything, they might be too creative and display…
#13: Destructive behavior
Boredom and pent-up energy?
Oh, no… For dogs, these 2 things could be equal to chaos.
One possible result of these is unwanted behavior. Say chewing things and soiling the house.
So what more to a hyperactive pooch. Who’s easily bored and with so much life.
Check this out next: Why is my dog suddenly being destructive?
Hyper dogs also tend to act without thinking much.
They’ll quickly rush to the door when they hear something. Or always jump on people whoever it may be.
Part of this could be due to a lack of self-control since it’s hard to train them. But, it’s mainly because of the low amount of hormones – serotonin and dopamine.
These two balance their mood. So having a few of these can result in being jittery.
Dogs who are like this may also snap instantly.
Since they’re highly energetic, they might not like being confined. Or even restrained by a leash.
But other canines can also try to bite at random times. So this is a thing one should be careful of.
“Why do they do that?”
But if you don’t notice or pet them, they’ll be more anxious. As a result, they can grab your feet or nip at them.
#16: Extreme friendliness
At one glance, you may not see anything wrong with a dog being so excited. And jumping on anyone they see at the park.
But, this can also be a sign of hyperactivity.
Lack of socialization is one of the causes explained earlier, right?
So when outside, a hyperactive pooch will be so ecstatic. And it’s like they’re trying to make up for the lack of interactions.
That’s why this, along with tons of energy, will result in an extra sociable behavior.
#17: Constant attention-seeking behavior
Lastly, hyperactive dogs will also do things to make people notice them.
Attention-seeking is normal for most canines. But for these dogs, it’ll be more than that.
What can you give a hyper dog to calm it down? 11 tips
#1: Exactly what to feed a hyperactive dog
Food affects the behavior of our furry friends.
But what can you give that’ll not add up to their hyperactivity?
Balanced meals with high-quality protein.
Protein is an important part of a dog’s diet. It has 10 amino acids that canines can’t produce by themselves.
One of them is called ‘tryptophan.’ And they need this to produce ‘serotonin.’
This improves mood, lessens stress, and induces sleep. Which hyper dogs have trouble with.
The National Research Council says that dogs need this much protein a day:
- Adult: 0.88 oz (25 g).
- Puppies: 1.97 oz (56 g).
And they need to get these from excellent sources of protein like:
- Cooked eggs.
- Meat by-products.
Notice how all of these came from animals?
This is because plant protein sources like grains have more carbs than amino acids. Which will only fuel hyper dogs with more energy.
So animal-based ones offer more high-quality protein. And your Fido will get the essential nutrients by only eating a few amounts.
Note: Before changing their diet, talk about this with your vet. This is to avoid food allergies and an upset stomach.
#2: Calming products
I’ll discuss one natural way first.
According to PetMD, there’s a herb that has a calming effect. It helps with having a good sleep and also reduces anxiety.
It’s called ‘valerian root.’
Although it’s a popular sedative for humans, it can also be used for dogs. Especially those with noise phobias and aggression issues.
It doesn’t mean that this doesn’t have any hazards.
Because they also point out that a canine may experience side effects if they’re taking other meds. Like lethargy and drowsiness.
Note: See an expert if you’re interested in this. And who knows, this might help calm down your pooch.
Commercial soothing treats
There are also other products that are readily available in the market, such as:
Note: Dog-safe diffusers can be helpful during training sessions. But use it with caution as some canines may be allergic to it. Also, keep the bottle out of your dog’s reach.
“What’s an effective hyperactive dog treatment?”
Research found 2 medications that work best for hyperkinesis in dogs:
Based on the study, this should be given first at a low dose – 0.000007 oz/lb (0.2 mg/kg) per body weight.
Then every day, increase it with 0.000007 oz/lb (0.2 mg/kg). Do this until you notice effectiveness.
For this, the recommended dose is 0.00007 to 0.00014 oz/lb (2.0 to 4.0 mg/kg).
These are called stimulants. If given to normal canines, these will induce activity.
But for hyperactive dogs, such drugs will do the opposite. Instead of exciting them more, they’ll become calm.
It’s because they’re stimulating themselves.
So when they receive stimulants, they won’t have the urge to do it anymore. And it’ll slowly bring back their ability to focus.
Also, PetMD lists down other ‘calming’ medications such as:
Note: Have your dog checked by a vet to know which one of these is the suitable treatment for them.
#4: Ample amount of physical exercise
Aside from meds, give your dog enough exercise.
“But should I just give them more if they’re hyper?”
Nope. Hyperactive dogs would be impossible to tire out by only doing physical activities.
Plus, it might also do more harm than good.
Because exercise produces stress too – but a positive one!
It’s called ‘eustress’. And high levels of this can make canines aroused for days.
So it won’t be a good idea to give more than what they need.
“But how much is sufficient for a dog?”
This will depend on their age, breed, size, and health.
PDSA shares how much each kind needs. But consult with your vet to see if it suits your dog’s current condition.
|Dog’s age||Total minutes of exercise needed per day|
|Puppies||5 minutes x dog’s age in months = total minutes(e.g., 5 minutes x 5 months = 25 minutes/day)|
|Adult||At least 30 minutes – toy breeds at least 1 hour – small to medium-sized, giant breeds, flat-faced dogs at least 2 hours – working dogs (e.g., Huskies, Retrievers, Boxers)|
|Senior||At least 30 minutes.Light stretching exercises.Short walks with lots of rests in between.|
Also, given that these dogs get bored easily, mix up their exercise every now and then.
Here are some activities you may try aside from walking:
- Tug of war.
- Hiking (for medium-sized and working Fidos).
#5: Various mental stimulation
If physical activities only do much for hyperactive dogs…
Why not wear their minds out as well?
These canines have a problem with impulse control. So working out their brains can help them settle down.
What to do?
Start off by giving them indestructible and non-toxic dog toys like:
- Kong (fill this with treats).
- Chew King Supreme Fetch Ball.
- Nina Ottosson Interactive Puzzle Game.
- ChuckIt! Rebounce Natural Rubber Dog Ball.
Tip: These dogs are energetic and can tear things by a few bites. So pick chew toys with safe durable materials like natural rubber.
Also, avoid squeaky and plush toys. Because your dog could rip them apart and ingest the things inside.
Next, know what your dog likes. Then give them jobs according to their breed.
I can’t mention every kind here, but just to give you an idea:
- Agility course – for herding pups like Border Collies.
- Playing fetch and getting things for you – for Retrievers.
- Scent work – for German Shepherds and Bloodhounds (with the best nose in the doggy land!).
Not every dog will love the same activities. But most canines like to fetch and play games using their snouts.
So let them find a hidden toy with a catnip scent in a room. Or conceal some treats under or inside an object.
Say boxes or plastic cups. Or this interesting toy called a snuffle mat.
#6: Obedience training (and lots of patience)
I said that a hyperactive pooch won’t do well with repetitive tasks.
But, with medications, exercise, and a proper diet, this is possible.
Just do this one baby step at a time. And begin with the basic commands like “sit” or “down.”
For this, you need a clicker to make training faster.
This is because they’ll associate its clicking sound with rewards. So less confusion for dogs who are easily distracted.
Things you can use:
- Ballpoint pen.
- Clicker with wrist strap.
For deaf Fidos:
- Special hand signal.
- LED keychain light (with a ping pong ball glued to cover the light).
What to do?
Start by teaching them “down.”
- First, show your dog a treat (one they can’t resist!).
- Hold and put it near their nose.
- Once they focus on it, click and give the treat right away.
- Repeat this a few times.
- Then, try moving the treat an inch lower. And do the click and reward again.
- If they’re following it, go lower until it’s close to the ground. If they lose focus, go back to the previous height.
- Do this until they’re down with their feet forward.
Note: This might take as many as 100 clicks, but don’t give up. Also, give them breaks in between and don’t train them longer than 15 minutes.
#7: Behavioral modification
Medicines alone will not be able to calm a hyper dog. They’ll also need to have new rules and learn how to control their impulse.
“But what is the most effective way to do this?”
Through positive reinforcement.
Just ignore all the bad behaviors. Like jumping, excessive barking, and nipping.
Then reward every good behavior. Such as staying calm for a few seconds or sitting down.
Punishments will only cause anxiety and stress to dogs. Resulting in more difficult behavior.
Confinement won’t help hyperactive dogs.
They need interaction with others. And learn how to do it appropriately.
So, let them meet other doggos. Arrange a play day and invite adult ones who are calm and well-trained.
Guess what, canines can have role models too.
Experts reveal that dogs could learn behaviors by observing other Fidos. So at times where humans can’t train them, a well-behaved pooch may save the day.
Note: Do this once they’ve improved from medications and training. Also, supervise their play. And watch out for stress signals (e.g., excessive panting, lip licking).
Dog parents also need to do several interventions.
If your pooch grew up walking off-leash, it might be time for them to get used to it.
This way, you can control them while you’re walking or training.
Because hyperactive dogs will overreact to everything. May it be a stranger or another canine.
But if they’re already used to it, that’s great. Now, train them how to calm down while on a leash.
How? Watch a complete lesson here:
Note: If your dog’s too aggressive, seek help from a certified dog behaviorist or trainer. This is to prevent your pooch from causing harm to you or other people.
#10: Touch therapy
A relaxing massage?
Well, there’s one for dogs and other animals too.
It’s called ‘acupressure.’ And specialists say that it dates way back 618 to 907 A.D.
The concept is similar to acupuncture. But thankfully, there are no needles involved.
According to them, there are certain points in a dog’s body that can reduce anxiety when pressed.
Plus, this may also help in:
- Digestion issues.
“Can I do this at home?”
Warning: Learning this will take a while. And hyper dogs could be aggressive when touched. So look for an acupressure specialist around your area.
Lastly, this won’t be possible without your consistent effort.
Calming hyperactive dogs could be one of the hardest things to do.
But, it’s possible with consistency and the right tools. 🙂