Why is my dog so hyper all of a sudden?

Why is my dog so hyper all of a sudden?

In Backpacking & Traveling by Caroline2 Comments

Why is my dog so hyper all of a sudden? That’s a very common question among dog owners. Depending on your dog’s breed, your pup might be prone to hyper behavior in general. That’s particularly true for active breeds. But it’s also very common that usually calm dogs become hyper all of a sudden.

This post in partially based on my post about the question: my dog is very hyper and restless, what can I do?

If your dog is hyper and restless all the time and doesn’t seem to have any interest in relaxing at all, there is usually a good reason for it and in most cases it’s not clinical!

But why is your pup usually a good boy and then all of a sudden he’s so hyper?

If the behavior occurs spontaneously, all of a sudden, there is usually a particular trigger causing it. The reasons or triggers can be the same as for dogs that are hyper and restless pretty much all the time. The difference is most likely that one kind has a calm character, while the other one has an excitable one. There are a number of possibilities: feeling uncomfortable/itchy, he’s overwhelmed/discontent, he’s over tired, boredom, your behavior, conditioning, breed characteristics, he’s a puppy.

In this post I’ll show you the possible reasons why your dog is so  hyper all of a sudden and what to do about it.

Note: I think I’m in a pretty good position to talk about this subject because Baloo is a very high energy dog. He used to be hyper all the time and drove me nuts! I’ve managed to calm he down very well for most of the time. But it still happens that he’s hyper seemingly all of a sudden.

So here are the possible reasons and what you can do about it:

What causes hyperactivity?

He’s feeling uncomfortable/itchy

Here I’ve got a really funny story to tell. Baloo doesn’t shed so I have to trim his hair about every 2 months. Since I’m not a pro, I sometimes don’t trim it evenly. So around his butt, is sometimes gets a bit longer until I realize that I have to shorten it again. The other day, it happened again, his hair grew a bit too long and the last bit of his poo got stuck in his hair… Yeah, dog stories.

So I obviously had to clean it and pretty much wiped his butt. Dogs anuses are very sensitive and Baloo’s is even more. He can’t stand it when I have to touch him there (it’s not exactly a pleasure for me either, but what can I do? 😉 ). He’s more or less standing still when I do it. But once I’m done he’s completely freaking out. He’s getting “the zoomies”, running around, jumping and becomes vocal. A real pain in the butt, quite literally!

The reason for his sudden appearing hyper behavior is very clearly the uncomfortable situation. More over, I force him to stand still while I do it and this is how the tension within his body builds up. When I finally let him go he feels like he has to get rid of this uncomfortable feeling by running, jumping, shaking and so on.

It’s similar when he’s itchy. By his hyper behavior he tries to get rid of the itchiness.

He’s overwhelmed/discontent

It doesn’t really matter what he’s overwhelmed with. Some dogs react with hyper behavior when they can’t deal with a situation.

Again a Baloo example: I recently tried to teach him a new trick: the cup game. However, he didn’t understand what he had to do and instead of looking at the cups he was just staring at me and getting really nervous. He literally couldn’t focus anymore, he was just totally overwhelmed with what I was asking him to do.

He can also be emotionally overwhelmed by circumstances such as other dogs, many people, loud noise etc.

Or he’s not happy with what you want him to do. Like when you’re telling him it’s time to go to bed and he starts being overly dramatic and then running around. Yep, he doesn’t know how to escape your command so he’s just being a fool. Maybe it even works…

He’s over tired

I’ve just posted an article about 10 signs and symptoms your dog is over tired or exhausted. If this is the case, one of the signs can be that your dog starts to become hyper all of a sudden.

Dogs are in many ways like children. And that’s particularly true for when they’re being exhausted. Overly tired children often become hyperactive. With dogs, it’s just the same. Have you ever noticed that you’re dog gets particularly excited after a long hike or agility training session? In that case it’s most likely that he’s overly tired.

Boredom

The other most common reason is the exact opposite: lack of mental or physical stimulation that leads to dog boredom.

I have already written a post about dog boredom which you can find here. This is another important factor that can cause a dog to be hyperactive. A bored dog will find himself something to do. And this something could be running around your house endlessly or jumping up and down on you with no break. And his hyper behavior can very well appear out of the blue. If your pooch has quite a calm character, he might accept the lack of exercise for a relatively long time. But at some time it will just burst out of him and he’ll start to get crazy.

Your behavior

Sorry to tell you but most of dogs’ behaviors can immediately be linked to your behavior. Dogs in the wild live in packs and every dog has a different role. Per pack there can only be one pack leader. In our society, you as the owner have to be the pack leader. The pack leader tells the pack what to do and how to react in different situations. So dogs are intuitively used to looking at their pack leader and imitate his or her behavior.

To be honest, Baloo and I are a very good example for this. Being a poodle, he is very smart but also very sensitive. So he’s always observing me closely. Whenever I am not really calm or relaxed, Baloo starts to become uneasy. As you can imagine, I happen to be stressed, angry, sad or excited every now and then. And that’s when Baloo gets really annoying. He gets overly excited, bouncy and starts whining…

This is a particularly good example of why your dog is so hyper all of a sudden. Seemingly, nothing has changed but he’s jumping around like a rabbit, right? It’s very likely that you’re hormone level has changed for some reason and Fido doesn’t know what to make of it.

Conditioning

Another reason for hyperactive behavior is that the dog hasn’t learned it any better. As a puppy, a dog naturally can’t control his energy and is always quite over the top when he’s awake. If your pup has always gotten attention (positive or negative) when he was being hyper, he learned that being jumpy and noisy means getting what he wants. So he basically got conditioned that he has to act a certain way in order to get attention. Hence, he keeps doing that. And since you’re probably annoyed by his hyperactivity, you correct him or even give him a toy or something to play with. This reassures the dog that he’s doing the right thing.

This is more of a reason for constant hyper behavior. It’s not very likely that this will appear all of a sudden. But from that “all of a sudden” it can become more regular, if you react with attention.

Breed characteristics

Dogs have different personalities and different energy levels. This is mainly due to breed characteristics. Poodles and terriers are more active and bouncy by nature than other breeds. If active breeds don’t get enough mental or physical stimulation, this can very easily lead to hyperactivity and restlessness. The 7 best small breed active dogs are the ones that also tend to become hyper the easiest.

However, breed characteristics lead more often to your dog being hyper all the time. So this is more of a side note to this post. It’s still possible, though, that a high energy breed dog was calm for a while, for whatever reason, and now he actual temperament breaks through. This then seems to appear “all of a sudden”.

He’s a puppy

Your pup’s still a puppy? Okay, then there’s no need to worry at all! Puppies can’t control their energy level. One moment he’s sleeping like a baby and the next he’s hyper all of a sudden. That’s completely normal. Just make sure he gets enough time to rest and he’ll be fine. If he can’t calm himself down, you need to “force” him. This is crucial, because dogs that didn’t learn to calm down as puppies will be much more prone to being a hyper dog as adults.

Solutions for sudden hyperactive behavior

If your dog is hyper all of a sudden, I suggest the following:

Stay calm and sit down with him

This is a suggestion of my dog trainer and it has worked very well for me and Baloo. She explained that dogs (or puppies even more so) can’t really feel where their body starts or ends when they’re being super excited. They can’t control their body anymore because they don’t feel it.

That’s why she suggested to sit down with him, being veeeery calm, and just hold him by the shoulders. It’s best to not even say anything, just sit and hold him. It doesn’t need to be a hard grip, just hold him softly and wait until he’s sitting or lying down. Baloo sometimes tries to trick me, so he sits down really quickly in order to get away. In this case, just repeat the process. When he seems a bit calmer, I mostly tell him to go to his bed, because this is a calm area. He manages to calm down relatively quickly when his hyper behavior started all of a sudden.

This works particularly well, if the reason of his sudden craziness is that he’s feeling uncomfortable/itchy or that he’s overwhelmed or discontent.

Observe yourself

If the first tip doesn’t work, you have to find out what causes your dog’s hyperactivity.

Start with yourself and observe your feelings and your dog’s behavior. How does he react when you’re stressed, tense, sad, angry or excited? Does he get hyper whenever you experience a particular feeling? In this case you need to work on your mental balance. Personally, I neglected this thought for a long time. It’s much easier to tell yourself it’s the dog’s fault than to admit that it might be your own.

Your dog is like a mirror: he’ll react to your body language or the tone of your voice. So if you’ve found out that your dog is mostly hyperactive whenever you’re stressed or angry, it’s also for your own benefit to stay calm. A dog can be like a therapist. I don’t want to tell you that you need one, I don’t even know you. But stress and anger are bad for our mental health. So having a sensitive dog is an opportunity to become more balanced yourself. Small personal recommendation on the side 😉

I can observe it over and over again. As soon as I get tense, Baloo starts to hyper. So I constantly remind myself to stay calm. This way we have made tremendous improvement. Baloo is now a much more even-tempered pup.

Mental and physical stimulation

Dogs have different activity levels. But chances are that your hyper dog needs more action than other pups. Long walks where he can roam off-leash are a perfect way to tire out your pooch. But most hyper dogs also need some mental stimulation. This can either be obedience training or anything where he has to watch you (e.g. walking at heel). Or you can play games where you hide some treats somewhere and your pupper needs to think how he can get them. 2 other good options are scent games and dog sport such as agility. If you do all of these things on a regular basis you’ll have a happy and relaxed dog, for sure!

This rule also applies if your dog has become hyper all of a sudden. As I’ve said before, it’s very well possible that he has accepted the lack of exercise but has had enough of the boredom now. It’ always worth trying a little more and to see what happens. If nothing changes, try to cut it down. In case your pup really doesn’t get much physical exercise, scent games are always a good idea. So just try it!

Give him a break!

If you’re a very active person and you’re constantly on the go, your pup gets tons of exercise and you’re constantly having friends over, he might be over tired. If you think this is the reason for his spontaneous hyperactive behavior, then give him a break. Install a “calm room” where he can always go to when it’s getting too much for him. The best thing is to also install a crate in there where you can put him if he can’t control himself.

Separate activity hours and sleeping hours

This has also worked great for us. Dogs love routine and will happily adjust to yours if they know how it works. When Baloo was still a puppy, I stopped playing with him when we were inside. Playing games such as tug of war would just excite him even more so it was absolutely counterproductive. However, I still wanted to play with him sometimes. Playing is important to strengthen the bond between you and your pooch and Baloo loves it. So my solution was to only play active games when we were outside. We would still play scent games inside on rainy days because this is a calm activity.

This is a great way to teach your dog that outside is the “active zone”, while inside is the place to rest and relax.

So I highly recommend that you only do any sort of physical exercise outside. So if you’re dog is having “the zoomies” and you would like to let him get rid of his excess energy, let him run outside.

If you think he’s hyper because he’s bored, try some mental exercise such as games or teach him a new trick.

Conclusion

Most dogs that are hyper and restless show this behavior because they think this is the right way to behave. If it occurs all of a sudden, it’s most likely that he doesn’t know how to deal with a situation. Something’s uncomfortable or he’s overwhelmed. Most important is it for you to stay calm and for your dog to get enough mental and physical exercise. Also important is to show your dog that inside your house or flat is a “no-activity-zone”. If you observe all of these measures, I am sure your dog will manage to calm down very quickly.

How do you get your hyper or restless dog to calm down? Any other suggestions?

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