5 Tips for Calming a Hyperactive Dog
Hyperactivity is a problem with many possible causes and solutions. Here are some simple techniques you can try at home to work to calm your boisterous dog:
- Ignore the behavior! Dogs seek attention from you. By paying them that attention during hyperactive outbursts, you’re reinforcing the very behavior that you're trying to eliminate.
- The next time your dog is jumping or nipping at you in an overexcited way, give it a try
NO EYE CONTACT,
and see how you fare. You might be surprised how quickly the dog settles down.
- Give your dog a job!Having a task to focus on can help tremendously. Hyperactivity can come from psychological needs as easily as it can from physical needs. By giving your dog a job to do, you are removing him from his state of hyperactivity and redirecting his energy elsewhere. The task should have a clear beginning and end, and should never be considered a replacement for physical exercise. Which brings us to…
- Go for a walk!If your dog has a lot of built-up energy, a really vigorous walk is another excellent way to redirect it where YOU want it to go. Once you’ve burned that extra energy away, your dog should be pleasantly exhausted and too tuckered out to jump and nip. Without that frustration, he’ll find it much easier to relax.
- Check your own energy! Your dog is your mirror. Any energy you project, he will reflect back. Are you in a calm assertive state of mind? Are you projecting a confident energy? Are you stressing out over an argument, or burdened with the worries of the work week? Nervous or anxious moods can translate into nervous or anxious body language or tones of voice, and can affect the energy of your dog.
- 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 vet or consult a holistic professional to find out what smells may work for your dog and which dispersal methods are the safest for him.
Rules, Boundaries, and Limitations
A dog's mother begins training puppies from birth. She makes them wait for food; she controls when they play and how far they travel. Adult dogs need these same rules, boundaries, and limitations from you, their pack leader.A pack leader doesn't project emotional or nervous energy, so neither should you.
In the wild, the pack leader uses calm-assertive energy to influence how the dog interacts with his surroundings. She enforces these laws in a quiet way, as is the case when a mother picks up a puppy by the scruff of the neck if he strays outside the den.Ownership of territory is very important. Dogs in the wild claim space by first asserting themselves in a calm and confident way, and then communicating this ownership through clear body language signals and eye contact.
A dog who understands that you, as the pack leader, own the space in which he lives will respect your asserted authority.Waiting is another way that pack leaders assert their position. Puppies wait to eat, and adult dogs wait until the pack leader wants them to travel. Waiting is a form of psychological work for the dog.
Domestication means dogs don’t need to hunt for food, but they can still work for it.Establish your position as pack leader by asking your dog to work. Take him on a walk before you feed him. And just as you don't give affection unless your dog is in a calm-submissive state, don’t give food until your dog acts calm and submissive. Exercise will help the dog, especially a high-energy one, to achieve this state.In all of these ways, the pack leader in nature sets rules, boundaries, and limitations for her pack, and in doing so, nurtures her dog's healthy state of mind.
After holidays your kids head back to school after having a great time off! Without the routine of going to class everyday and doing homework, it takes some time to readjust to the demands of school. They have to get back into the everyday rules, boundaries, and limitations that school naturally gives them.
For us adults, we have our routine set by our jobs, kids, volunteer work, or our hobbies and other commitments. And when we return from holidays, it’s no different – we have to go back to basics.
As we celebrate that (some parents more than others!), let’s use it as a lesson in how we can apply this – reestablishing boundaries – to our dogs.
We know dogs need Rules, Boundaries, and Limitations. But what I often see happen is the human gets lazy. The dog is behaving to their satisfaction, so they let some things go. They start allowing the to dog walk out the door first or walk in front of them on the walk, or they give them food while sitting at the dinner table. Sometimes it’s as simple as not following the fulfillment formula – and giving affection and more affection before exercise and discipline.
So, you ask – what’s the problem with that?
You’re losing their respect as pack leader because you’re allowing them to get away with behavior that, psychologically, changes the rules, blurs boundaries, and neglects limitations.
Let’s say for example that you’ve let your dog run wild on the beach all summer and now he’s “all of a sudden” not respecting the boundary of your home’s front door, barking when guests arrive, or is running out of the garage to explore the neighborhood (both unsafe and not controlled behavior).
What do you do?
The leash will be your best friend here. Show your dog that YOU control the environment. Get them to understand proximities again. It’s not that they have forgotten. They just need a little refresher course. Just like kids learning their math tables in school. They haven’t “practiced” all summer, so when they return to class, they need to review it. It’s the same with your dog. Practice makes perfect, right?
Here are the basics to reestablishing boundaries:
• Recognize your frustration
• Don’t blame your dog for not understanding – you changed the rules on him, remember?
• Repetition and patience are the keys to your success. Don’t give up!
• Understand what it means to follow through and do that.
• If you want to maintain your dog’s calm-submissive state once he “gets” it, you need to practice repetition and not bend the rules again
• Consistency is discipline!
Dogs Learn at Different Rates
Just like people, dogs have different learning abilities. Some dogs learn quickly, some slowly, and some learn at different rates depending on many factors including what you are attempting to teach them.You should never compare your pup against another of the same age. Even if they are from the same litter, their learning ability can be very different.
The most important thing you can do is spend time with your pup and watch how he learns and is developing. Watch for a willingness to work with you; watch for independence and stubbornness. Look for sensitivities; identify what pleases and rewards him after a behavior. Get to know his personality.In your dog's development, you may reach steps where he seems to be learning very little or even going backwards. Don’t let this frustrate you. On occasion, we have to slow down. Make sure that you continue to be consistent and follow though, and do it fairly and with understanding. There will be times when your dog will be distracted, times when he will decide not to obey, and times when he will not understand what you feel is a familiar command because of the situation.
Believe that your dog really wants to be good and do as asked and help him through it. Even clever dogs can encounter difficulties which slow his learning down. These can be caused by distractions, the activity you are teaching, and the tools you are using. Unfamiliarity or the attraction of some other stimulus can create learning difficulties – barriers to the retention of what we are teaching. Even dogs that pick up certain commands quickly may have problems with others.
Remember we are always training 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and 52 weeks a year. It is a fact that if you do something that creates an unwanted behavior, then that behavior will stick for a long time. Good behaviors need repeating many times to become a habit. Be a trainer always. So when you take your dog out of the crate, teach him to wait and be invited out.
When going through a door, again he can wait until invited through. When guests come, ask him to sit and wait for the guests to say hello to him. When going for a walk, we don’t keep going with him pulling; we only walk and advance when he is not pulling.
Consistency throughout is the secret. There are few formal training lessons, but every activity is training and an opportunity to teach. If you do this as a matter of routine, one day someone will say, “What a well behaved dog.” and you will say “Yes, he was a natural!”
Dogs communicate via Energy
Dogs use constant energy to communicate. Energy is what I call beingness; it is who and what you are in every moment. Dogs don’t know each other by name, but by the energy they project and the activities they share. They know humans in the same way. As humans, we too are communicating with energy—whether we realize it or not. And, though we may attempt to persuade, explain, and rationalize all day long, these energy signals are the only messages getting across to our dogs. The first energy that a puppy experiences after birth is mom’s calm-assertive energy. Later, the puppy will follow a pack leader who projects the same calm assertive energy out of association. As pack followers, dogs return a calm submissive energy that completes the pack balance. It is important to understand that most dogs are born to be submissive, because there can only be so many pack leaders. When a naturally submissive dogs lives with a human that does not lead, he or she will attempt to right the pack balance by filling what they see as a vacant pack leader role. This is how behavior problems develop.To establish yourself as the pack leader, you must always project a calm-assertive energy. This natural balance (calm-assertive leadership with calm-submissive behavior) nurtures stability and creates a balanced, centered, and happy dog
Master the Walk
I always walk my pack at the same time, mostly off the lead if I'm in a safe area. People are amazed by this, but it's simple: the dogs see me as their pack leader. This is why they follow me wherever I go.
Position matters. Walking in front allows you to be seen as the pack leader. Conversely, if your dog controls you on the walk, he’s the pack leader. You should be the first one out the door and the first one in. Your dog should be beside or behind you during the walk.
Use a short lead.This allows you to have more control. Attaching the leash to the very top of the neck can help you more easily communicate, guide, and correct your dog. Always keep your dog's safety in mind when giving corrections.
Set aside time. Dogs, like humans, are diurnal, so taking walks in the morning is ideal. I recommend setting aside thirty minutes to a full hour. The specific needs of each dog differ. Consult your vet and keep an eye on your dog's behavior to see if his needs are being met.
Define exploration time.After your dog has maintained the proper state of mind, reward him by allowing him to relieve himself and sniff around. Then you need to decide when reward time is over. It should always be less than the time spent focused on the walk.
Don't punch out. When you get home, don't stop leading. Have your dog wait patiently while you put away his leash or take off your shoes.
Share food and water.By providing a meal after the walk, you have allowed your dog to "work" for food and water.
Pick up after your dog! Set an example: be a responsible dog guardian.
The reason a dog has so many friends is that he wags his tail instead of his tongue.-Anonymous
There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face..-Ben Williams
A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.-Josh Billings
The average dog is a nicer person than the average person.-Andy Rooney
Dogs love their friends & bite their enemies, quite unlike people, who are incapable of pure love & always have to mix love & hate.-Anonymous
Anybody who doesn't know what soap tastes like never washed a dog.-Franklin P. Jones
If your dog is fat, you aren't getting enough exercise-Unknown
My dog is worried about the economy because Alpo is up to £3.00 a can. That's almost £21.00 in dog money.-Joe Weinstein
Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.-Robert A. Heinlein
If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you; that is the principal difference between a dog and a man.-Mark Twain
Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.-Roger Caras
If you think dogs can't count, try putting three dog biscuits in your pocket and then give him only two of them.-Phil Pastoret