How to Calm a Hyperactive Dog
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Many owners claim that their dogs are hyperactive. We usually hear phrases like "my dog just does not stop", "my dog never gets tired" or "my dog cannot relax". If the same thing happens to you, you should know that it is not normal behavior and that it must be dealt with by a professional.
Although hyperexcitability is common in puppies, hyperactivity (whether physiological or pathological) is not normal behavior in adult dogs or puppies. This may be a warning sign for homeowners that something is not going well. In this AnimalWised article we will talk about how to calm a hyperactive dog, and discuss this common (but rarely treated) disease.
Types of hyperactive dogs
Before talking about the symptoms or treatment, it is fundamental to understand that there are two types of hyperactivity in dogs:
- Physiological hyperactivity
- Pathological hyperactivity ( hyperkinesis )
It is very important to be clear that physiological hyperactivity can be produced by learning (reinforcement of one behavior / s) or due to separation-related disorders, for example.
However, hyperkinesis (due to pathological causes) is caused by an alteration of the dopamine pathways in the dog's brain. And this requires veterinary treatment. For that reason, hyperkinesis will not be solved with patterns of behavior that can be offered by a canine educator. We should always go to the specialist.
Hyperactive dog symptoms
Because there are two types of hyperactivity, we will explain the symptoms separately. Note all signs to know if your dog may be suffering from any of them.However, remember that physiological is the most common.
Here we will show you the most common symptomatology in dogs, remember that they do not have to experience all of the following:
- Destructive behavior in the presence and / or absence of the owner.
- When playing games they get overexcited and have no control, they can even do damage without wanting it.
- Hyperactive dog biting and other similar behavior.
- Demanding constant attention to the owner. These include crying, whining and howling or destructive behavior.
- Generalized frustration (they fail to meet many of their goals, usually because the owner tries to avoid it).
- They respond in an excitable manner to any unusual stimulus.
- They tend to be alert, but they never concentrate. When given an order like "sit down" they look at the one who emits it but fail to incorporate the movement - generally doing the opposite of what is ordered.
- Light sleep and brief with startles at the slightest noise.
- Reacts exaggeratedly to the slightest change.
- They do not learn what they are taught because of their high level of stress, which is further aggravated by lack of sleep.
- They might not have proper control over their sphincters and urinate anywhere - without a reason or reason in accordance with their canine habits. This symptom is not always present.
Pathological hyperactivity - Hyperkinesis
Now that you know the symptoms of physiological hyperactivity, it is time to compare them with the symptoms of pathological hyperactivity:
- Very high activity level.
- Inability to relax, being able to affect normal sleep of the dog.
- Exaggerated response to different stimuli.
- Difficulty of learning, again related to lack of sleep.
- Possible aggressive or reactive attitude to different stimuli.
- Emergence of barking or related behaviors.
- Possible appearance of stereotypes (repetitive movements without an apparent end).
- High heart rate and respiratory rate.
- Excessive salivation.
- High energy metabolism.
- High body temperature.
- Reduction of urination.
Why is my dog so hyper?
The causes of hyperactivity are unique in each case, here is why it can occur:
The beginning of this behavior usually occurs by learning . Owners positively reinforce attitudes of effusiveness in the dog. For example, running around the house, getting excited when someone rings the bell or playing uncontrollably. The owners are not aware that they are reinforcing a negative attitude until it is too late. Then, when the dog seeks the attention of his family and they reject them, this reinforces their attention equally.
There are also several causes that can cause this behavior problem. Such as, separation-related disorders. If we observe that our dog destroys or acts in this way when we leave home, we may have found the cause of the problem.
Even so, there may be infinite reasons that cause hyperactivity in dogs, but do not forget that "hyperactivity" in puppies is normal and is not a behavior problem. However we can always work with on their relaxation or reward the quiet behaviors that please us.
Pathological hyperactivity - Hyperkinesis
Now that you know what causes hyperactivity, it is vital to understand what causes a pathological rather than physiological origin.
Hyperkinesis is a rare disorder and occurs from early stages, when the dog is still a puppy. It is mainly due to an alteration of the dopaminergic nerve pathways of the limbic system (between the midbrain and the frontal cortex). It can also affect serotonin and noradrenaline. Finally add that it can occur in dogs that have ingested lead, although it is rare.
Is my dog hyperactive?
Before commencing treatment it is important to ensure your dog is suffering from hyperactivity. It is highly advisable to first rule out hyperkinesis by a test with methylphenidate, a type of amphetamine. When this substance is applied, the dog can react in an excitable way (in which case hyperkinesis is ruled out) or in a much calmer way (thus confirming that it is a pathological problem).
If the test with methylphenidate is negative, we are probably faced with a physiological problem. This generally affects dogs that have these characteristics (although there may be exceptions):
- Young male dogs
- Dogs of active breeds (Dalmatians, terriers ...)
- Lack of animal welfare
- Lack of environmental enrichment and mental stimulation
- Premature weaning, which implies a lack of learning
- Lack of social contact
How to calm a hyperactive dog
Dogs suffering from hyperkinesis will need to receive hyperactive dog medication that allows their body to function normally. In a few days you will see a noticeable improvement of their behavior.
If your dog suffers from physiological hyperactivity, you must follow some of the following guidelines. Of course, we do not recommend applying them yourself, but go to a professional who can evaluate your specific case.
Remember that to solve this behavioral problem the whole family must collaborate. If not, you will not achieve good results, but a return to the hyperactive behavior of the dog.
- Totally eliminate positive punishment. Never reprimand them, attack them or shout at them. A dog suffering from constant stress can not recover, take this point very seriously if you want your dog to improve its behavior.
- Avoid reinforcing excitement by ignoring excitable behaviors. Remember that it is not a question of "pushing the dog away" if they demand attention, we should ignore them completely.
- On the other hand, we will reinforce the quiet and relaxed behaviors that we observe in the dog, such as being in their quiet bed.
- Establish a fixed routine for walks, for example, to the 9:00, to the 15:00 and to the 21:00. Dogs need stability and the routine of walks is imperative so that they can improve. We will also elaborate a routine of meals, which will always be at the same time. This factor prevents anticipatory excitement (knowing something happens).
- Practice basic obedience to stimulate your dog and achieve a better response, both on the street and indoors.
- Offer them quality walks, allowing them to interact with other dogs (whenever possible) or to walk freely, without pulling on the leash.
- Offer them toys that promote calmness and tranquility. Such as the kong, for example.
These are the basic guidelines that you can apply in your home. However and as we have explained, not all cases will go ahead with these tips. So, it is highly recommended to go to a professional, whether an ethologist, a canine educator or a trainer.
If you want to read more articles like How to Calm a Hyperactive Dog, we recommend that you visit our Other Health problems section.
This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.
If you want to read similar articles to How to Calm a Hyperactive Dog, we recommend you visit our Other health problems category.