Hyper Overactive Dogs

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Hyper Overactive dogs

Hyperactive dogs are dogs that seem to be in a perpetual state of excitement. They have poor attention span, can be aggressive towards other dogs and have high levels of motor activity usually associated with excessive “panting”. They are virtually in constant motion, bark a lot jumping around and over-reacting to the slightest distraction

Their owners struggle to control their behaviour and often miss-interpret the condition as pent-up energy that needs to be released. They then start a strenuous exercise routine as a solution to calm the dog down. All they do is to create super fit dogs with breathtaking energy levels. The only time they are quiet is when asleep.


All dogs get excited from time to time and will play rough with each other but these bouts of excitement do not last long. Calm returns and they settle down on their own. Puppies generally have much energy and owners may struggle for a while to control them and get their attention. After puppy class they are usually “clapped” and fall asleep on arrival at home

Certain breeds such as Border Collies and Jack Russells display high levels of activity for which they were originally developed. The normal activity levels that apply to the average dog are not enough for them. This makes them well-suited for games such as fly ball or agility training. Many so-called “hyper” dogs are just under-exercised.

Often it is more than just lack of exercise; it’s also lack of appropriate reinforcement for calm behaviour – i.e., training. By
being patient and insistent you send a message to your dog, “You can get what you want but first sit calmly.” Self-control is what must be achieved. Unfortunately, in spite of good intentions, owners soon give up on these dogs with the result  that they not only lose a happy home and are confined to a back yard but they may even lose their lives escaping and darting across a road.

Real hyperactivity results in the dog not being able to control itself and therefore not being able to learn – much like a hyperactive child. Detective work on a trail and error basis is required to find a solution to this very difficult problem.

What can be done to do help these dogs?

A remedial programme is called for which includes physical exercise, management and obedience training.

A fairly long, daily controlled Walk in which, for the first ten minutes the dog is kept on a short leash alongside the handler. The dog is not allowed to sniff the ground or pee during this time. After “dominating” the dog during this period it is given an opportunity to be more free, smell around etc. but only at the discretion of the handler before continuing with the controlled walk. This kind of walk combines the physical exercise, management and obedience especially if a number
of “sits” are included on the way.

Stay calm – if you get angry or excited the dog will pick it up on your energy and become more hyper. I find that  prolonged hand caressing and manipulation and stroking, helps to calm these dogs down.

Distract or re-direct attention away from a fixation such as another dog in the distance by producing a favourite toy to regain his attention. By tossing a handful of treats in the grass as you order, “Find it” instantly re-directs attention. Repeat
a few times before continuing with the previous activity.

Ignore hyper behaviour. By reacting to the hyper outbursts, verbally or physically, you are reinforcing the behaviour you are trying to eliminate. When the dog is jumping and nipping at you, remain calm with a no touch, no talk, no eye contact response. Wait for the dog to calm down before attending to his desires. Most owners find it difficult to ignore the dog when he misbehaves and only pay attention when he is being good.

A distraction free training environment such as a quiet space at home is essential. Bad habits must first be attended to before venturing to a training ground with people and other dogs.

If the hyper behaviour is a new behaviour, consider the possibility that the food you served may be a cause. The late John Fisher, before his death was doing research which indicated that food may have an important role in creating hyper behaviour in dogs. Unfortunately he was not able to complete his study.

In an effort to restore calm and control in a dog a homeopathic remedy such as Rescue Remedy should be considered. It is known to effectively reduce stress, distress, and tension and restores calm in dogs. Naturally, any form of medication must be used in conjunction with management and training. Management includes routine and structure: Time to eat, train, play, sleep and being calm.

Anxious dogs respond very well to Canine Calming tablets as well as the Canine Calming Collar. Clomicalm is also often prescribed by vets in order to calm over anxious dogs.

Hyperactivity or ADHD overexcitement is not normal or healthy for dogs. It is rare and currently considered to be a genetic condition. As such, it can only be diagnosed by a veterinarian or a behaviourist.

These dogs drive their owners “up the (proverbial) wall.” They spend all their energy fighting to control their dogs and are unsuccessful in getting the dog to develop self-control.

The true test of ADHD is for a veterinarian to give the dog a stimulant such as Ritalin or Dexedrine under controlled clinical conditions and observe changes in heart rate, respiratory rate and behaviour. In a case of ADHD, all these parameters will be reduced.
The Best Games for Hyperactive Dogs
Find it. Most dogs love to use their noses. Take advantage of this natural talent by teaching yours the “Find It!” game:
1. Start with a handful of pea-sized tasty treats. Toss one to your left and say “Find it!” Then toss one to your other side and say “Find it!” Do this back and forth a half-dozen times.
2. Then have your dog sit and wait or stay, or have someone hold his leash. Walk 10 to 15 feet away and let him see you place a treat on the floor. Walk back to his side, pause, and say “Find it!” encouraging him to go get the treat. Repeat a half-dozen times.
3. Next, have your dog sit and wait or stay, or have someone hold his leash and let him see you “hide” the treat in an easy hiding place: behind a chair leg, under the coffee table, next to the plant stand. Walk back to his side, pause, and say “Find it!” encouraging him to go get the treat. Repeat a half-dozen times.
4. Again, have your dog sit and wait. This time hide several treats in easy places while he’s watching. Return to his side, pause, and say “Find it!” Be sure not to help him out if he doesn’t find them right away.
You can repeat the “find it” cue, and indicate the general area, but don’t show him where it is; you want him to have to work to find it.
The “find it!” game can be played indoors or outside. Nose work is surprisingly tiring for dogs.
5. Hide the treats in harder and harder places so he really has to look for them: surfaces off the ground; underneath things; and in containers he can easily open.
6. Finally, put him in another room while you hide treats. Bring him back into the room and tell him to “Find it!” and enjoy watching him work his powerful nose to find the goodies. Once you’ve taught him this step of the game you can use it to exercise him by hiding treats in safe places all over the house, and then telling him to “Find it!” Nose work is surprisingly tiring.


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