How to Cope with a Hyperactive Dog
Have you ever had one of those friends who would say a thousand things before you had the chance to say one? They ask you a question, answer it and then ask you another question based on your (their) response to the first one. That’s what having a hyperactive dog can be like. While you’re still trying to figure out how to play with it, ask it to sit, stand or lie down, it has zoomed off at 100 mph and you’re just lost and confused and need to lie down.
All dogs are great, even the ones trying to drive us crazy with their inability to focus and their boundless energy. These are the dogs people often relegate to the backyard, throw away, or ignore, only to see the symptoms get worse. So, what is the proper way to handle a hyperactive dog? To begin with, how are you certain your dog is hyperactive?
What Does Hyperactivity Mean?
When a dog is constantly running around the place like a race car without brakes, we normally say the dog is hyperactive. However, it could just be that your dog has high energy and wants to play. In fact, this is the case more often than not.
There is a handful of people who actually have hyperactive dogs, as in the clinical sense of the word. Another closely linked condition (some people argue it is the same) is hyperkinesis. Though they share similar traits, veterinarians treat them as different things. They are a dog’s equivalent of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
In the same way, many parents mistake their kids for having ADHD because they love playing and rarely seem to listen, so is the case with dogs. Most problem behaviors exhibited by dogs that owners claim to have hyperactivity are the result of one thing: lack of exercise.
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Is Your Dog Getting Enough Exercise?
Before you can begin to discuss hyperactivity, we must first establish if your dog is getting enough exercise. The average dog has a lot of energy and needs to release it through exercise. To leave this boundless energy bottled up is to leave your dog no other choice but to be unruly. Getting your dog to run around morning and evening is good for them and your peace of mind. If you don’t have that much time, you can invest in food stuffed toys, which can consume a good chunk of your dog’s time.
If after giving your dog playing time in the yard or in a park and you realize he is easier to train, it could be that it was not hyperactivity at all. As to the question of how long you should play, there is no set time. The aim of the exercise is to get your dog tired, so if he isn’t tired, that means he hasn’t played enough, so when you get back home, he is going to do everything he can to amuse herself.
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The Difference Between Hyperactivity and High Energy
Hyperactivity is a problem. It is a real, tangible problem. Getting the diagnosis right is important as this would determine how well you are able to manage the condition and train your dog. Some dogs have been bred for generations to be work dogs. They drive sheep all day. They circle the building all night. They need work to stay alert, so when they lack work, they improvise by ripping your house apart.
When you exercise a high energy dog, it might get tired within half an hour or an hour, but hyperactive dogs just keep going. Yeah, he is happier, but he still wants to play. This has an impact on their breathing. Hyperactive dogs always seem to be on edge, so their heart is constantly racing and they pant often, even when they haven’t exercised.
Hyperactive dogs don’t always like new things in their environment. The fact that they are hard to train means they have not unlearned many poor vices, thus they can get upset and become aggressive to things they dislike or people they don’t know.
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When To Train A Hyperactive Dog
The best time to train a hyperactive dog is when he is tired. Not the kind of tired that makes it impossible to learn, just the kind that gets her so happy he just wants to make you happy. Exercise and training is a wonderful combination of hyperactive dogs.
How to Train Your Hyperactive Dog
When it comes to the training part of it, you will have to train each one according to the severity of it. There is no one size fits all approach, neither are drugs needed for every single case. In some instances, good exercise and constant engagement may be enough to see remarkable improvements. Here is what you have to do:
1. Put On Your Running Shoes
You’re probably asking “Where am I going?”, but you should be asking “Where aren’t we going?” You need to take your hyper-dog out of the house to open space for it to run around. To get through to a hyperactive dog, you have to keep up with its level of excitement and energy. No one is asking you to drink a whole keg of red bull, but simple things like looking excited will get your dog’s attention in a jiff. Remember when you were in school and you had those oh so boring teachers. What made the ‘fun’ teachers more interesting? Their energy, their charisma, and their vast knowledge, right? Well, now the tables have been turned and your dog is the bored student.
Dogs don’t listen when we are too slow for them to comprehend what we are doing. Their attention span is short, so while you drone on about it not giving you time to rest, he’s whizzed off in his mind at least. So, get your mood dialed all the way up because you need your A-Game on this one.
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2. Give Your Dog What It Wants
Hyper and activity. Your dog wants activity, it needs it, it craves it, so give it to him! One of the best exercises for a hyper dog is fetching or playing with a frisbee. If you love jogging then you would be able to keep up with your dog or have it push you to your limits. You’ll probably end up in the marathon with a record time.
The benefit of indulging in copious amounts of exercise is that it makes your dog easier to train. In this mood of excitement, your dog would do anything to make sure it keeps having fun.
Get a ball in your hand and have your dog focus on you. Swing the ball around and keep moving it so your dog’s attention is firmly on you. Once that has been established, it is time to launch it as far as you can. When he brings it back, you can then begin to get some eye contact. He is eager for another taste of that ball, so he’ll be putty in your hands.
In this playful mood, you can begin to go through some of your basic training, but these would have to be done quickly and with many treats. As your dog obeys, lavish some treats and praise on him and then play some more.
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3. Keep Your Cool
For some odd reason, dogs don’t listen when we shout. They look startled, stare for a little while, then get ready to move again. Same as goofy kids – when they hear someone shouting, they think that’s part of the fun and games. When giving commands to hyper-dogs, you need to speak with a calm voice. A whisper is too quiet, a shout too loud. Talk with calm confidence and your dog will listen. Your hyperactive dog will learn that before it can get the reward, it has to listen to what you are saying.
4. Use Clicker Training
The sound of a clicker is the human equivalent of a big fat cheque being signed. Our eyes light up and we focus on the person writing it. A clicker will get your dog’s attention on you immediately. The clicking sound means you are pleased with them, so this should be followed with treats, at least in the initial stages. When you are able to get eye contact, you will be able to teach your hyperactive dog better.
If your dog hasn’t been conditioned to clickers yet, you can do this easily. Press the clicker and give your dog a treat immediately after. Do this a few times in a row, without asking your dog to do anything in return. As you do this, your dog will associate clicking with rewards. You can then move on to clicking whenever your dog gets a command right.
5. Get Medical Help for your hyperactive dog
Getting medical help for a hyperactive dog does not mean your dog has a huge problem, but neither should it be the first resort. It is advisable if your dog seems to never pay attention, is constantly moving, breathing heavily, and aggressive when it gets uncomfortable. You also should contact a certified trainer to show you a few tricks. Having a dog is challenging enough, but when it is hyperactive and nothing you seem to be doing is working, go get help. Your dog might be given tranquilizers that would make it easier to train him. Whatever the case may be, be proud of your dog, and let him or her know that every day.
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