Help! My dog is hyperactive!

Hyperactive dogs can be ..well..tiring! They can be running around room to room, they may be nipping you, biting you or enjoying a bit of erm “Light decorating” around your house!

In the past the advice for a dog driving their owners to despair would be exercise! Walk your dog for hours and hours, go cycling, running ANYTHING. A tired dog is a happy dog..

While yes a dog physically exhausted cannot get up to no good, as they are running on empty, you don’t resolve the reason for the behaviour. And in fact, you end up creating a canine super athlete usually! The dog becomes more and more resilient to exercise, building greater stamina, requiring you to give them even more exercise.

This isn’t practical, and isn’t helping you and your dog in the long run.

Exercise absolutely needs to be met (where exercise doesn’t cause more stress than it relieves) however it is NOT the answer alone.

Often a dog who appears to be hyperactive is actually a dog who struggles with key concepts such as relaxing, along with having a need that needs to be met.

Dogs need a mix of physical exercise, and mental exercise. Along with meeting breed needs.

Physical exercise can come in many forms, depending on the age of the dog and physical capability. You can go for an onlead walk, a nice offlead walk, go for a run, let them have a swim. Do some balance exercises, some flirt pole games. They can chase a ball, retrieve a dummy. There are lots of ways to exercise a dog, and varying it will really enrich their life more. Imagine doing the same things day in day out? In fact, some of us are getting an insight to this right now! It would get boring pretty fast. Try and vary your dogs exercise and see how much more fun they can have.

Note Young dogs who have not finished growing should not participate in jogging, cycling and similar activities as they are hard on their joints.

A dog needs outlets to use their brain too. Puzzles are great and an ideal way to teach your dog to be alone, but don’t forget about training. Training simple games and exercises can tire a dog out a lot because of the brainpower require! Along with that, it builds a strong bond with you which will help them make better choices in day to day life.

Its no coincidence that gundogs are mouthy pups, or young collies try and herd the heels of kids in the home. These breed traits need an outlet as much as anything. Try and think what games you can play to replicate that! A sighthound will love to chase, try a flirt pole. A gundog will want to carry and retrieve, try and channel that when they are stealing things! Try and give your dog outlets for natural instincts, as it will help reduce the chances of them going self employed with that desire in future!

Calm is a key concept which many dogs have not been taught. It is important dogs have some time where they can chill, so ensure your dog has the opportunity to sleep when they need it. Some dogs are not built with the ability to naturally switch off (My jrt Womble proved that one!) and need a hand. With dogs like that, calm passive activities such as chewing on chews, kongs can really help, as they learn to find these calm more still activities more relaxing.

Along with this rewarding calm with a sneaky peace of dry food between their paws when chilling can be really helpful too. No praise or touch required, just dropping a treat between their paws and carrying on your day.

It can take a while for dogs who are naturally more alert, to learn to relax. Meeting their physical, mental and breed needs are a big part of helping your dog be a little less hyperactive!