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Advice for hyperactive dogs and over active dogs

Many owners are caught unawares by the excessive energy that their dogs display. Sadly, this can be such that many dogs find themselves in animal shelters simply because their owners are unable cope.

Living with an over active dog can be extremely challenging and many young dogs can be particularly testing during this phase. It is important to understand that there are many things you can do to reduce over activity, but before we discuss this further I would like to touch on the term ‘hyper-activity’.

Hyperactivity term is often used to describe all excessive activity by dogs, but it is important to understand that true hyperactivity relates to a fairly rare medical condition that may even require veterinary attention. The symptoms of true hyperactivity include frantic abnormal behaviour, moving endlessly whilst panting and appearing restless. Compulsive movements such as tail chasing are also symptoms. Although these habits can also be displayed in perfectly normal dogs, it is always worth taking veterinary advice if you are in any doubt.

In the vast majority of cases, over activity is just unruly behaviour for which there are many things you can do to help. For the purposes of this article we have divided them into five categories:

RESEARCH:

Some dogs are simply very active and indeed have been bred that way. Hunting and herding dogs have been bred to have boundless energy to carry out the work at hand. Unfortunately, many prospective dog owners fail to research this aspect of their breed preferences prior to bring a new puppy home.

REGULAR TRAINING

This is a must for dogs that simply don’t want to stop and don’t want to listen. Your dog must understand the rules of the house and when and where they need to be calm. Regular training sessions of 3-4 minutes will help develop your dog’s focus on you. Keep sessions low-keyed and calm, favouring verbal praise rather than physical praise.

Don’t spend to much time on one particular exercise before moving onto the next. Practice the ‘stay’ command regularly between other exercises. The ‘stay’ command is probably the most important command for your dog to master.

PLENTY OF EXERCISE

All dogs should get regular daily exercise, but for over active dogs it is more important than ever. Two long walks per day with plenty of games of fetch and find-it. Really focus on expending that energy.

At home, ensure your dog has plenty of chew toys , particularly when left alone at home. There is now a large range of dog activity toys that help develop puzzle-solving skills and further stimulate brain activity.

If your dog likes digging, build a digging pit in your garden. See our article Why is My Dog Digging The Garden.

TIME OUT

Dogs need plenty of rest time and there is no better way to encourage this than crate training your dog. Nearly all dogs grow to love their crates and see them as a place of security and calmness. They soon learn to settle in their crate giving both you and your dog a valuable cooling off period. Our article What about Crate Training ? to better understand the full benefits of crate training.

DIET

The debate around hyperactivity within children has raged for years and now medical evidence has proved that in many cases this is related to food additives within diets. Although little scientific research has been carried out, many believe that the same can be said for dogs. So avoid artificial preservatives, flavourings, food colouring, and overly high protein and of course sugar. That means no more sweets or pizza (!) and use only natural treats during training or to keep them occupied.

There are a number of excellent ‘natural’ dogs foods available these days. Just look closely at the ingredients. There are also some good herbal supplements available. These are added to your dog’s meal and usually contain Chamomile and Valerian herbs.