Learning to calm your dog: “Why is my dog so active all the time?” This is a question that owners ask me all the time about their dog. I’m sure many of you have asked this question before. Sometimes the activity of some dogs can drive you “crazy”, if you are not prepared for it. I even hear the term hyperactivity!
But in fact, what is an overactive dog? It’s a dog that has a lot of trouble settling down and seems to be always active. He jumps on you and destroys the house. It is the dog that you are afraid to bring with you to grandma Huguette’s house for fear that he will ravage the house.
Table of contents
Hyperactive dog – hypersensitiveGenetic potentialBoredomToo tiredHyper stimulation from puppy ageHealth issueSafetyMy dog is too active: 5 tips to help
Let me start by saying that your dog is probably not suffering from any clinical disorder, such as hyperactivity or HS-HA syndrome.
If he is exhibiting one or more of the symptoms below, he is probably very, very active. However, in the vast majority of cases, your dog’s behavior can be traced back to a cause. The Hs-Ha dog is constantly overexcited and has been this way since he was a child. It is a dog that can be described as “unruly”, “uncontrollable”, “tireless”, but above all it is a real disorder.
Permanent agitation, does not know how to settle down, sleeps less than 8 hours in 24 hours even when he is a puppy. This dog has important sleep disorders.Hyper sensitive because it reacts to the slightest stimulus: like a fly passing by, a car noise or people talking in the distance.Learning disorderObsessive disorder on food or play, can start barking non-stopDoesn’t control his bite, he has a deficit of self-controls. He may also have stereotyped behaviors such as spinning or swallowing imaginary flies
Currently, the HS-HA syndrome is still being debated in the veterinary community. Indeed, this syndrome is supposed to be rare, yet this label will be stuck to many dogs that do not suffer from this pathology. It is a sort of shortcut, as some do with the word dominant. A dog can have similar symptoms due to many different factors, without being sick. Only a behaviorist veterinarian will be able to diagnose HS-HA in a dog. You can find a list of recognized behaviorists right here on ZOOPSY.
If my dog is not sick, then why is he overactive?
Now let’s look at what can cause a dog to be too energetic. The reality is that your dog’s nature is to be active. All dogs have been bred for specific reasons. Their genetics have been worked out so that the dog will perform tasks required by humans.
I am not suggesting that the dog should work and not be a family dog. But, when choosing a dog, one should pay attention to its genetic potential. How many malinois or australian shepherds are abandoned each year, because they are “too active”? The associations are so saturated that some of them don’t want to take care of these breeds anymore, because they are too difficult to replace.
Hundreds of years of selection by humans have produced breeds of hunting dogs, speed sports dogs, herding dogs and traction dogs. A strong selection has been made on several genes related to cardiovascular, muscular and neuronal functions.
Modern dogs are distinguished among domesticated species by the wide range of phenotypic variations caused by man. The breeds reflect the development of the dog’s place in the human environment with well-defined physical and behavioral attributes.
In short, some dogs have been selected and created for their abilities in specific tasks. It is therefore normal to find canine individuals who are unable to adapt to a “simple” family life. By simple, we mean an environment that does not allow them to express themselves fully in these behaviors.
Me and Semper Dutch Shepherd
This is the number one reason for “hyperactive” dog behavior! Dogs are generally quite relaxed individuals. They sleep or relax for up to 16 hours a day, or more in some dogs. But for the remaining hours, they need to be busy.
Free-roaming dogs living on the streets spend their time looking for food, tracking, playing or fighting with other dogs. The worst thing for the dog is to have a lack of physical and/or mental stimulation. However, this is the case for many dogs.
If the only thing you did all day was wait for your spouse to come back at 8:00 a.m., when you already slept 8:00 a.m. at night, wouldn’t that be boring? If the only interesting thing you did in your day was 30 minutes of walking, wouldn’t that end up annoying you? Some dogs need more stimulation than others.
Unfortunately, not all dogs get the amount of stimulation they need. And this can lead to the dog staying active and developing annoying behaviors (barking, aggression, constant excitement, destruction, etc.).
If you are looking for stimulating activities to do with your dog, you can find ideas in our free online training: 10 activities to stimulate your dog.
In fact, the opposite of boredom can also make your dog too active. While it’s good to provide your dog with activities, you can also overdo it.
Too much activity can cause a dog to become irritated by his environment. He will then react quickly, with the illusion that he is always active. In reality, he would like to settle down in a quiet place and probably sleep. Fatigue can be physical, mental or even physiological. Here are some signs that your dog may be tired:
yawningdifficulty concentrating even on things he knowshe will seek out the floorhe will sniff the groundhe will be excessive in these behaviorshe may even hidemale/not eat/temperature drop
There may be a variety of other signs that your dog is overtired. Stay aware of your dog. If your dog is a puppy, keep in mind that he should be getting at least 18 hours of rest a day.
Hyper Stimulation from puppy
A big mistake for many owners. Some people, in order to stimulate their puppy from birth so that he doesn’t get bored and learn a lot, will over-stimulate him.
This is a problem, because a puppy should be able to rest at least 18 hours. If you over-stimulate your puppy, you create an adult dog that will be resistant and will need twice as much stimulation to calm down. For example, if you walk your puppy for 1 hour every day, at 12 months old he will need twice as much to be satisfied.
The first things a puppy learns are often: sitting, recall, walking on a leash. These are behaviors that teach the puppy activity. I’m not saying it’s bad. But, it should not be the only priority.
One of the first things a puppy should learn is calm. Knowing how to land safely anywhere. Understand that calm pays off. It’s all about balance.
A question of age
Of course, a dog is often active in his youth. This is quite normal, just like humans, they are eager to discover new things. Dogs often become less active as they get older. It is simply the cycle of life.
A question of health
The health factor is just as important to control. Indeed, a need to urinate or a simple stomach ache can lead the dog to be active. Remember to have regular veterinary check-ups to make sure your dog is doing well.
Sometimes, the dog feels insecure. Whether it is at home or elsewhere, the dog will then remain in hypervigilance for fear that something will happen to him. This can be observed in dogs coming out of shelters, dogs that have just moved or dogs that have been mistreated.
You need to be able to get the dog out of the situation. You can do this in many ways such as teaching the dog to be in a “happy zone” that will follow him around. In the case of abuse, there will be no choice but to change the dog’s family and give it time to regain its confidence.
A dog should always feel safe in his home and with his owner. Punishment is one of the things that makes a dog feel insecure. A dog that doesn’t feel safe at home may develop other behaviors that are much more embarrassing, such as aggression, mess, destruction and howling.
My dog is too active: 5 tips that might help
Now that you know where your dog’s over-energy can come from, here are some tips that may help.
1. Physical exercise
This is such an important factor! Not all dogs need the same amount. You need to take your dog out every day, even if you have a yard. In addition, you can find an activity to do together (obedience, agility, tracking, treibball, running, cani-vtt, frisbee, hoopers, canine athletics, etc). There is something for everyone, every breed and every age!
However, you should also provide stimulation that is personally appropriate for your dog. Some dogs do 2 hours of walking a day and don’t get tired, because it’s not the activity that suits them best. It all depends on your dog. Also, even if some dogs are selected for a “function”, it doesn’t mean that this dog will have to and can do it. Some huskies don’t like to pull the bike and prefer to fetch the ball for example.
2. Mental exercise
Stimulating your dog mentally is just essential. It is rarely satisfying to live on physical exercise alone. Mental exercise can easily be provided with games involving the dog’s sense of smell or thinking.
Allowing the dog to use his thinking skills will develop your relationship, will also allow the dog to exercise his intelligence. It also allows the dog to develop its independence. This is a very good thing for dogs suffering from hyper-attachment.
3. Learn to be calm
Once you’re sure your dog is getting enough mental and physical exercise, you can start teaching him to be calm. Because as I mentioned before, some dogs tend to get excited more easily than others. So it’s good to know how to get them to settle down.
I can only advise you our online training on this subject, created by Nicolas Bonet our center manager in Perpignan and trainer: CALM DOG TRAINING.
4. Your behavior
Dogs are sensitive beings. They often copy our own behavior. As soon as you are stressed, angry, sad, excited, anything but relaxed, some dogs will be in the emotion and will not settle down anymore!
Your dog’s behavior reveals a lot about you. You can see this in this article: What your dog’s behaviors reveal about you.
If you want your dog to stay calm, learn to interact with him in a calm manner. From petting to giving a treat to looking at your dog, everything should be relaxed. You need to be patient and above all kind to get results.
5. Know your dog
This makes sense, but not for everyone. You need to get to know your dog, so you can make the right choices.
Whether it’s his breed, age, personality or history, you need to understand him to give him what he needs.
If you observe all these things, I am sure you can help your dog relax. You will then have the best chance to have a dog that can keep a balance between his personality and his energy.