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Why is my dog so hyperactive all the time?
I’m sure many of you have asked yourself this question before. And I’m probably the queen of asking that question. Because when I first got my Miniature Poodle Baloo, he was literally hyper ALL THE TIME!
And it was driving me nuts!!!
Not only that, but I was sure that it’s not healthy for a puppy to be zooming around 24/7 (well, that’s what it felt like).
So, I’ve done a whole lot of research on dog hyperactivity. This article covers about everything you need to know when dealing with a dog that is too hyper.
Hyperactive dog symptoms
Let me start by telling you that your dog most likely doesn’t suffer from any clinical disorder, such as ADHD!
If he shows one or several of the symptoms below, he’s probably hyper. However, in the very vast majority of cases, your dog’s behavior can be led back to a cause. This also means that there are numerous ways to calm a hyperactive dog down.
So, even if your dog shows hyperactive dog symptoms, don’t despair! Just keep reading, I’ll tell you exactly what the most common causes for hyperactive dog behavior are and how to get rid of it.
But first, let’s have a look at the hyperactive dog symptoms.
This is probably the most obvious. Is your dog constantly pacing around? Does he never settle down, no matter how quiet and comfy his sleeping place is?
Well, then he might be hyperactive.
But be aware, there can also be other reasons, such as an illness, pain or itchiness.
Only if it’s a happy and playful restlessness, then it’s probably hyper behavior. If you’re not sure, consult your vet.
Another symptom for hyperactivity in dogs is if they’re being vocal. This can mean just “aimless” barking or crying, howling etc.
Some dogs bark more than others. But it’s usually towards something, such as other dogs, the mailman, an unfamiliar object and so on. If your pup is just barking for no obvious reason, then it might well be that he’s hyperactive.
This doesn’t apply to all dogs. But some dogs can get really clingy when they have a hyperactive phase. They’re constantly waiting for their human to do something fun, so that they can finally get rid of some of their excess energy.
Getting himself into trouble
Then there are the more independent kinds of dogs: they’ll just find themselves something do to. And this usually isn’t something you’ll appreciate, like digging in your garbage, destroying your shoes or digging on the couch.
The difference to just ordinary nasty behavior is that it will happen constantly, when your dog is too hyper. Hyperactive dogs are usually bored. So, they’re constantly on the look for something fun to do!
And last but not least – the good old zoomies.
This often happens for sudden hyper behavior. Zoomies are a way to get rid of excess energy. They’re usually short and very wild. In some cases, they can last for up to an hour or even longer, though. If they last for that long, then your dog is definitely hyperactive!
Why is my dog so hyper all the time?
Now, let’s look at what can cause hyperactive behavior in dogs.
As I’ve mentioned before, your dog most likely doesn’t suffer from a clinical condition. To make the list complete, I’ll quickly touch on it anyway, though.
This is the number 1 reason for hyperactive dog behavior!
Dogs are usually quite relaxed beings. They sleep or relax for up to 20 hours per day. But for the remaining waking hours, they want something to do!
In the wild, this would be looking for food, mating, playing or fighting with other dogs. Domestic dogs often feel like they have to do a job, too. Only, they don’t really know what that could be. But that wouldn’t be so much of a problem. The worst thing for dogs is to have a lack of physical and/or mental stimulation.
If the only interesting thing going on are 30 minutes of walking per day, that would be pretty boring for us, too, right? Sure, dogs sleep much more than we do. But they still need some action in their life!
Unfortunately, not every dog gets the amount of action that he needs. And this can lead to dog boredom which then leads to dog hyperactivity.
Btw, if you’re looking for indoor things to do with your dog, make sure to check out these 21 fun things to do with your dog at home.
This is a very important factor for sensitive dogs. Some dogs struggle with all the stimuli of our modern world. Especially when they’re not used to it, this can easily cause hyperactivity.
Actually, the opposite of boredom can also make your dog be too hyper.
While this is more of a reason for suddenly appearing hyperactivity, it can sort of become more permanent if your dog is over tired every day.
While it’s great to provide lots of activities for your pup, you can actually also overdo it. If the hyperactivity only ever appears after a full day of action, then the reason is most likely that your pupper is over tired.
There can be a variety of other signs showing that your dog is over tired. Here are 10 signs and symptoms. For puppies, it’s a little different, which is why I’ve also made a post about the 10 overtired puppy symptoms and what to do about it.
Hyperactive dog breeds
Breed characteristics can also play a major role in hyperactive dogs.
Some breeds are just way more energetic than others. This is probably one of the main reasons why Baloo used to be too hyper all the time when he was younger. With the right amount of exercise, I got to calm him down a lot. However, his hyperactivity still shows when he gets excited. And I guess that won’t ever change.
Small dogs are generally more prone to being too hyper than big dogs. Here’s a list of the 7 most active small dog breeds. Do you have one of these? Well, then hyperactivity is in his genes!
This probably sounds like a funny reason. But it can have a huge impact on your dog’s behavior. Most dogs have thick fur to keep them warm in colder temperatures.
This means that they usually tend to get very hot in summer which makes them lazy. They’re hot already just from lying around. Getting excited only means that they’d get even hotter. So, they’re not really interested in getting all hyped up.
As soon as the temperatures drop, all your pup’s energy is back all of a sudden! To make it worse, you probably didn’t exercise a lot with your dog in summer, because it was just too hot. So now, your pup is left with all that energy and he doesn’t know what to do with it! This can easily lead to hyper behavior.
Last but not least, I’ll quickly touch on ADHD in dogs, also referred to as hyperkinesis.
As I’ve mentioned before, it’s highly unlikely that your pup has it. However, there are a few cases where dogs actually suffer from this disorder.
So, if you’ve tried all the “remedies” listed below and nothing helped, you should talk to your vet.
I’ve covered ADHD and hyperkinensis more in detail in this article.
Why is my dog so hyper all of a sudden?
Has your pup’s hyper behavior only just recently started? Then there might be slightly different causes. When your dog gets too hyper seemingly out of nowhere, then this has usually something to do with overstimulation.
I’ve wrote a whole article on this topic.
Here’s just a quick overview of the most common reasons for sudden hyperactivity:
- Feeling uncomfortable/itchy
- Feeling overwhelmed/discontent
- Being over tired
- Your behavior
- He’s a puppy
Why do puppies have so much energy?
This leads me to the next question: Why do puppies have so much energy?
Well, this can actually be quite deceiving. Puppies tend to have a whole lot of energy for a very short time and them they need to rest again – for a long time.
Puppies are a lot like babies, they just can’t control their energy very well. And the whole world is soooo interesting, so many stimuli. How can you not get excited!
But it’s very important to note that puppies need a lot of sleep. In fact, a lack of rest can lead to dangerous physical and mental effects later on.
That’s why it’s very important to know, how you can teach a puppy to calm down. But it’s also important to know how much exercise a puppy actually needs (we’ll get to that).
How to teach a puppy to calm down?
The earlier you teach your dog how to calm down, the better. So, why not just start when he’s still a puppy?
The most effective way usually is to ignore the hyper behavior and reward good behavior with attention. If he can’t calm down at all, then it’s best to put him in his crate. This helps him to calm down by himself. As soon as he’s quiet, you can let him out again.
Another great way is to reward calm behavior with treats, such as McCann dog training shows here:
How much exercise does a puppy need?
Actually, very little! As least in the beginning.
As a rule of thumb, a puppy is allowed to walk 5 minutes per month of his age at a time until he’s about 1 year old (for small breed dogs). This is okay for 2 or 3 walks per day. Until that age your dog’s bones and joints are still relatively soft and longer walks can harm his health.
The same rule applies for play time or things like scent games or playing with other dogs. Keep it short and make sure he can rest afterwards!
My dog is too hyper: 8 things that might help
Now that you know what the symptoms and causes for dog hyperactivity can be, let’s actually look at the solutions.
In the very vast majority of cases, one or more of the solutions listed below will help your pup to calm down a lot. Keep in mind that dog breeds, who tend to be hyperactive very easily, will always have a higher energy level than quieter dogs.
1. Physical exercise
This is such an important factor!
Once your dog is out of puppy age, meaning 1 year for small dogs and 1.5 for larger breeds, he needs exercise! Not every dog needs the same amount. But chances are that if your dog is too hyper all the time, he needs more exercise!
However, you always have to look at the situation closely. Mental or emotional stimulation can also be very exhausting for dogs. So, if your dog is constantly exposed to a very busy environment, the contrary might actually be the case. As I’ve mentioned before, dogs can also become hyper when they are over tired. In that case, your pup doesn’t need more exercise, he needs a quiet place and rest.
So, its very important that you always first analyze the situation and then think about the solution!
2. Mental exercise
Next up is mental exercise. Just as for us, it’s rarely satisfying to only live off of physical exercise. Most people get depressed when they don’t have anything to think about.
While a dog that isn’t mentally stimulated can get depressed too, it’s more likely that he’ll get hyperactive. Mental exercise can easily be provided with scent or thinking games or also by teaching him a new trick. What’s also mentally very demanding are sports where he has to watch you closely, such as dog agility or dog dance.
Here’s a good overview:
And here’s an easy way to provide some mental stimulation indoors:
For more information on how to stimulate your dog mentally click here.
3. Conditioning (teach calm behavior)
Once you’re sure that your dog gets enough mental and physical exercise, you can start teaching him calm behavior.
This is a great way to help your pup calm down if he gets over the threshold once again. Because as I’ve mentioned before, some dogs tend to be more easily aroused than others. So, it’s good to know how to get him under the threshold again.
This video shows it very well:
4. What to feed a hyperactive dog
Food can play a role if your dog is too hyper.
Carbs, especially sugar, let the blood sugar level rise very quickly. So, after it’s consumption, dogs might become a little too hyper.
It’s generally a good idea to feed dog food with lots of proteins in it. But for hyperactive dogs, it’s even more important. To find out more about what to feed a hyperactive dog, click here.
But be aware that this is rarely the (only) issue. If you got the other things right, food plays a minor role.
5. Your behavior
Dogs are quite sensitive beings. And some are more sensitive than others. Baloo is one of the very sensitive examples. As soon as I get stressed, angry, sad, excited, just anything apart from relaxed, he freaks out!
This can get really exhausting at times, trust me! But well, at least it taught you to relax properly, which is certainly healthier.
If you also got a super sensitive exemplary, then you need to work on yourself, too.
I first had to teach myself to be more relaxed. I used to get stressed quite easily. Baloo forced me to stop that and remain relaxed as often as possible. This will significantly help your pup to calm down.
6. Give your dog a job
This is particularly good for herding or hunting dogs. These dogs where literally bred to do a job! In our modern society, they’re not used for such a purpose anymore, though. So, they’re confused and try to find their job, themselves. Since this usually leads to things you’re not particularly fond of, it’s best to just give your dog a job.
These can be simple things, such as letting him carry things, your mail or groceries, letting him solve puzzles to get treats or even scent tracking. The Starmark Treat Dispensing Ball is a real helper here!
7. Separate activity time and quiet time
This also helped me a lot with Baloo!
At some point I decided that we stop doing active games inside. From then on I only did scent games inside or give him a chewy.
Everything more exciting, like tug or war, fetch etc., would only happen outside. This way I taught him than inside is a quiet zone. Once we’re outside and he’s off leash, he can let his energy out.
This is a point I only want to touch on quickly. I’m not a huge fan of giving your dog medicine to calm him down. This mostly means that you’re neglecting the real cause (e.g. lack of physical exercise) and just drug your dog, while it could very well be solved by just attending to your dog’s needs.
In very severe cases, you might need medicine to at least get your dog in a state of mind where he can listen to you.
If you’ve tried all the things listed above and nothing has worked, go talk to your vet if there’s any medicine that might help.
If your dog can’t sit still, he’s having a hyperactive phase. This can last for different amounts of time. However, it only rarely means that he’s suffering from a clinical condition, such as hyperkinesis (ADHD in dogs).
Actually, the most common reasons are a lack of physical or mental stimulation, leading to boredom, overstimulation, being over tired, a temperature drop or all of it combined. When your dog is a very active breed, it gets even worse.
So, it’s very important to make sure that your pup gets the right amount mental and physical exercise, to teach him calm behavior and to calm down yourself. Along with that you can give your dog a job and you can try dog food with less carbs. Plus, separating active and quiet zones can help greatly as well.
If you observe all of these things, I’m sure you can help your pup to relax without any medicine!
Btw, if you’re having a senior dog that has suddenly become hyperactive, you can find all the possible reasons and solutions here. If you’re dog always gets hyped up when it’s time for bed, then check out my article about the question “why is my dog so hyper at night?“