Give your dog a job.
Having a task to focus on can help tremendously. Hyperactivity in dogs can come from psychological needs as easily as it can from physical needs. By giving your dog a job to do, you are removing his hyperactive dog behavior and are redirecting his energy elsewhere. For instance, having your dog wear a backpack with extra weight will keep your dog focused on carrying instead of getting distracted by squirrels and other things.
If you want a well behaved dog, you need to exercise him. A long walk in the morning, 30-60 minutes, and then a shorter walk in the evening after work is ideal. You don’t need to regiment it quite as strictly like Millan does; you can let Fido stop and smell the roses. In addition to stretching his legs, all the fascinating smells will stretch his brain, too. Helps keep him from going stir crazy at home.
During the day, play a vigorous game of fetch or frisbee to really wear Fido out. If no one is home during the day to play with him, consider hiring a dog walker or even a doggy daycare so that Fido doesn’t lose his marbles while you’re gone.
Build a routine
Hyperactivity is often a result of insecurity on the dog’s part. This is especially true of adopted dogs who may have moved around a lot in their past and have had little if any structure in their lives. Dogs thrive on routine. Developing a daily routine gives your dog an idea of what to expect life to be like and can calm his nerves. A routine might go something like this:
Early morning: walk, breakfast, a game of fetch, then inside for a few hours while everyone is at work or school.
Afternoon: Someone, either owner or dog walker, comes to let Fido out and play a quick game with him.
Evening: Family eats dinner, dog eats dinner, then a walk.
Put your dog’s brain power to good use. Get a few toys that require your dog to think. Toys like Kongs and Buster Cubes allow you to load them up with your dog’s kibble or favorite treats, keeping him occupied for a while while he manipulates the toy to make it dispense his food. You can feed your dog his entire meal this way.
Obedience or trick training
Obedience training builds a common language between you and your dog. It’s another way to calm his nerves, as it teaches him how the world expects him to behave. Learning new skills is also a great way to exercise Fido’s brain.
Learn a new sport or game
Getting involved in a dog sport like agility, flyball, freestyle or disc dog is a great way to build the bond between you and Fido. It provides physical and mental exercise all at once. However, formal training for some sports can be expensive and time-consuming.
If you want the benefits without getting seriously involved in a sport, you can set up home built agility obstacle courses in the backyard, play Frisbee just for fun, or teach your dog to play games like hide and go seek (especially fun to play with kids).
Try out aromatherapy.
Don’t forget that dogs experience the world primarily by scent! Just as the smell of lavender is said to relax human beings, a soothing smell can also have a very calming effect on your pet. Talk to your veterinarian or consult a holistic professional to find out what smells may work for your dog and which dispersal methods are the safest for him.
Be Careful Not to Reinforce Unwanted Behavior
Many parents of highly active dogs unintentionally reward their pets for excessive behavior.
Some dogs – especially hyper what-about-me types – regard any attention, positive or negative, as better than no attention at all.
Attention-seeking behaviors can run the gamut from non-stop barking every time you take a phone call, to games of “keep away” involving your cell phone or watch. There have even been reported cases of dogs feigning lameness or illness in a bid for attention.
The way to put a stop to unwanted behavior in your dog is to ignore it. Depending on the behavior this can be a challenge, but if you remain consistent and determined, your dog will ultimately lose interest because his bid for attention is having the opposite effect.
The first few times you ignore him when he’s performing an attention-seeking activity, understand that your dog will most likely escalate the behavior temporarily.
But if you continue to ignore him, and only pay attention to him when he’s not engaged in unwanted behavior, eventually his attention-seeking antics will grind to a halt. His goal is to get your attention, which is the opposite of being ignored, so he’ll soon learn which behaviors are getting him the opposite of what he wants.
Meantime, be sure to lavish attention on him with petting, praise, food treats and shared activities when he’s behaving as you want him to. Remember – attention to good behavior begets good behavior, and ignoring unwanted behavior extinguishes it.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help
If you’re at the end of your rope with your energetic pooch and your efforts to properly socialize, train and exercise him don’t seem to be helping, it’s time to visit your veterinarian for a consultation and workup.
Certain drugs, especially bronchodilator medicines and thyroid hormone supplements, can contribute to symptoms of hyperactivity. Aging can also be a factor, as can diseases of the central nervous system.
And of course it’s possible your dog really is clinically hyperactive, in which case all your best efforts to modify his behavior may not have much effect without simultaneous drug therapy or treatment with natural remedies.
If your vet determines there’s no physiologic basis for your pup’s hyperactivity, the next step is to consult a dog trainer or other animal behaviorist.
What you don’t want to do is become overwhelmed or completely exhausted trying to modify your dog’s behavior on your own.
Commit to finding answers for your dog’s behavior, and seek the help you need from knowledgeable sources. This will strengthen the bond and long-term relationship between you and your best furry friend.