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Dealing with a hyperactive dog

- Posted by in Dog Health & Wellbeing News
Dealing with a hyperactive dog

Dogs are excitable. Everyone knows that. However, there are times when you pet might enter a period of hyperactivity that is incredibly difficult to deal with. It might be sweet when your small Jack Russell Terrier starts to jump up in excitement when you walk through the door, but if your Great Dane decides to follow suit you will find yourself knocked to the ground.

Equally, even a small dog can cause plenty of damage to your house and its contents by sprinting and leaping around. Of course, let's not forget about the damage a dog can do to itself if it is too hyper. You don't want your pet to end up tripping and falling down the stairs, or knocking something onto them.

So how do you stop these energetic outbursts from your pet? Some dogs are just full of energy, which is often down to their breed. However, this is still behaviour that is fixable. It can take work, but you should be able to make your dog calmer over time, reducing any hyper outbursts.

Ignore them

Your first instinct might be to chase them around the house to try and catch them and tell them off, however this is not usually the best approach. You may have heard it said about some children that they only misbehave because they are craving attention. Well, dogs are not all that much different.

Dogs love your attention. They also take a lot of emotional cues from you. As such, if they start becoming hyper and their behaviour makes you frantic and agitated, your dog will read this emotion and become even more energetic to match you. Dogs also have difficulty telling the difference between positive and negative attention.

In order to calm your dog, you have to project a calm image. Your pet might be driving you crazy, but you need to be assertive without getting agitated. Try ignoring your dog as much as possible to get them to calm down rather than giving them the attention they crave.

Sort out their diet

Does your dog often get hyperactive shortly after feeding? This is surprisingly common. A lot of commercial, low-quality dog food contains a lot of carbohydrates, often from grains. Unfortunately, dogs are not very good at digesting this, as their diets are not supposed to contain high levels of grain-based carbs.

The effect of this is that your pet will experience energy spikes, where they gain extremely high levels of energy for a period of time before 'crashing' and becoming sluggish until their next meal. During the high-energy phases, they will typically be very hyper indeed.

To fix this, you need to make serious changes to their diet. You want to provide them with food that will give them a steady supply of energy, not a sudden burst. The BARF diet is good for this. It will provide your pet with high-protein food that will keep them going at a good pace for a long time, hopefully cutting down on their hyperactivity.

Make them work

Of course, some dogs have so much natural energy that a change of diet will not make a world of difference. For these dogs, you will have to adopt a different tactic. One option is to use up their energy before they have a chance to become too hyper and wear them out, so that you can enjoy a bit of peace.

You might find that you can wear your dog out with a vigorous walk, but some owners might simply end up being dragged along by their super-energetic pet. There is potential problem that can arise if your dog learns that if they act in a hyper manner, they will get rewarded with a walk. This will simply encourage them to act out even more in the future.

Instead, you could try getting your dog to carry a weight, albeit not one that is so heavy they struggle with it. This might seem bizarre, but to your dog it will seem like they are working. This is very fulfilling for them, emotionally, and it will use up some of their energy. You should make them 'work' in this manner before a meal.

Alternatively, and this is one of the more unusual options, you could get them to have a run on a treadmill. This is actually a very effective way of using up your dog's energy. However, you need to supervise them carefully, as they have no real way of telling you if they are going too fast for comfort.

Give them a puzzle toy

One of the reasons for hyperactivity in dogs is that they are bored. This is easily fixed by playing with them, however this requires you to give them a lot of time and attention. You might not be able to dedicate large chunks of your evening to wearing your pet out.

Instead, you could invest in a puzzle toy. These are typically 'seeded' with treats that are locked away in compartments, or in some other way require a lot of effort from your dog in order to get them out.

You can safely leave your dog with a puzzle toy for long periods of time without having to constantly supervise them. This makes the devices good for busy owners who can't dedicate the time to wearing their hyperactive dogs out.

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