Has your pet dog been jumping around too much lately? Or spinning in circles and incessantly barking? While these are tell-tale signs of ‘hyperactivity’, just tagging the fluff balls of energy as hyperactive doesn’t solve the problem. You will have to understand the cause behind it and find ways to channelize their energy.
Run doggo run
All dogs need a certain amount of exercise to stay healthy and calm. But the level of physical activity differs among breeds. While smaller toy breeds like Pugs or Bulldogs can manage with 40 mins to an hour of exercise a day, those with working backgrounds like Beagles or Labradors need a minimum of two hours of exhaustive workouts. For the larger breeds, you can pack in an hour’s walk once in the morning and once at night, along with 30 mins of running in the form of a fetching game. For smaller dogs, 30 mins of walking with a bit of running is generally good enough. Be careful to take it slow if your dog suffers from joint issues. If you still notice hyperactive traits in your pooch even after many physical activities, it could mean they are not entirely drained yet.
Drain the brain
Mental exercise is a fantastic way to engage four-legged babies and sometimes can be more draining than physical exercise. In fact, engaging your doggo with games and puzzles is a great way to keep them entertained. Especially when there are guests in the house or when the little ones trouble your house help during chores. Games such as obstacle courses, hide and seek, playing rollover, and finding treats through puzzle feeders or treasure hunts are great brain-teasers. You can also utilize their sense of smell (activate the nose) to find things hidden in the house.
When dogs crave attention, they tend to get hyperactive by jumping at guests or continuously barking. Instead of reprimanding them, ignore any such signs of overexcitement. Start acknowledging when your dog is calm to indicate which one is acceptable behaviour and which is not. You can introduce rewards by positively connecting with them every time they stay quiet. Once they realize such conduct is praised and should be repeated, they would choose to calm down.
Learn from training
You should devote a fair amount of time to instil your dog's manners. Training your dog to ‘sit’ and ‘wait’ can curb hyperactivity. For example, if your dog gets hyper during meal times or when you try to clip the leash, make them sit and wait for it. Manners training helps dogs control their impulsive actions and obey commands. You can also train your dogs to learn the concept of their own ‘space’ — a crate/pen or a mat/bed. Consistently luring them to this space and teaching them to stay put helps control hyperactivity. Introducing treats for being obedient are cool add-ons to the training; these can be gradually reduced once they are used to the right behavior. In the future too, random treats as reward for good behaviour will make them feel appreciated for doing the right things. As a dog parent, you also need to figure what motivates your baby the most — food or toy — and accordingly choose the most loved treats for better results.
Just like human beings need the right food to function correctly, dogs too need to have their fill of nutrition to stay active. Any imbalance in this could have a significant impact on their behaviour. However, misconceptions and lack of information often lead to a wrong diet. Mass-produced and overly processed dog food is high on sugar and ingredients like fillers, by-products, artificial colours, which are not suitable for your doggo’s health. In fact, a carbohydrate-rich diet instead of protein could cause excessive aggression and mood swings. Connect with your veterinarian or a dog nutritionist to understand what food could trigger hyperactive behaviour and what would keep dogs happy and healthy.
Regular training, exercise, and a proper routine, along with consistency and patience on your part, are the fundamental steps to channelize your dog’s energy. But despite following them all, your pooch could still end up being hyperactive. Underlying medical complications such as metabolic disease associated with liver dysfunction, hyperthyroidism, and some neurological conditions can sometimes lead to clinical hyperactivity. Reach out to your veterinarian to strike out these possibilities or get the babies treated if diagnosed with any ailments.
Paw Fact: Hyperactive dogs are not always happy dogs. They are just high on excess energy that needs an outlet.