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How to Manage a Hyperactive Dog

A Hyper Dog can be a Real Handful!

Some dog owners may say that their four legged family member has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder!

He never sits still, and is constantly on the move. As much as you love them, these dogs can be difficult to live with. Is there really such a thing as a hyperactive dog? There certainly is, but it's very uncommon. Hyperactivity in dogs is a genuine medical condition which is ultimately a diagnosis of exclusion: every other possible cause of your dog's symptoms needs to be eliminated before you can say your dog is hyperactive.

hyper dog

Many people confuse the term "hyperactive" with "overactive". It's quite normal for some dogs to be overactive. Herding breeds and other working dogs are very active and require heaps of exercise and mental stimulation. They will walk for hours and still want to play ball. Other dogs are overactive because they've never learned good behavior. They jump, bark and are generally difficult to control. Adolescent dogs are full of mischief and can appear to have excessive levels of activity, but this is to be expected for their age.

A hyper dog is almost frantic in his activity. He pants constantly, and his heart rate is always above normal. He often doesn't stop his abnormal behavior until he is completely worn out.

Other Causes of Overactive/Hyperactive Behavior

There are other reasons that your dog may appear to be hyperactive, both medical and behavioral.

The most common cause is that your dog just isn't getting enough exercise, and has pent up energy he needs to release. This often leads to behavioral problems such as digging which can be a nuisance. It also can make him restless, and he will find it hard to relax and settle down.

Another reason is lack of training. We're all guilty of giving our dog attention when he's being naughty; we tell him to stop barking, or jumping, or pulling at the corner of the carpet. It shouldn't be surprising then when he repeats what he was doing, because he likes it when we do pay attention to him. Our busy lifestyles can also make it hard for us to keep up with our dog's basic training, and he may have learned some bad manners.

Some dogs suffer from anxiety and are constantly stressed. They often pace the floor and pant heavily. Similarly, dogs may have a compulsive disorder and can repeat the same behavior over and over again, and can't be distracted from what they're doing. These dogs aren't hyperactive; they just need help to settle down.

Less frequently, dogs have periods of frantic behavior as part of a seizure disorder. When the appropriate treatment is started, lo and behold, you no longer have a hyperactive dog.


Treating Your Hyperactive Dog

To get to the bottom of your dog's behavior problems, you firstly need to visit your veterinarian. It's a great help if you can videotape your dog's behavior; a picture paints a thousand words, and she can see exactly what's happening rather than having to rely on a verbal description.

Based on your conversation and a full examination of your seemingly hyper dog, she can come to a conclusion about the reason for his excess activity levels. She may prescribe medication to treat any medical causes of his behavior.

You may need to exercise your dog more, and teach him to settle on a mat or a crate. There is no need for medication. It can take time to see any change in his activity level. Behavior problems in dogs don't get better without a dedicated owner who is willing to put the time and effort into their pet's treatment.

If your vet thinks your dog may really have a hyperactivity disorder, she will refer you to a board certified behaviorist for further evaluation and possibly a trial of stimulant medication such as Ritalin.

If you own a dog that is always active, it can really wear you down. Fortunately, there is help at hand, and with some time and effort, you can restore calm to your home.

This is a excellent overview and explanation of how to treat a hyper dog, by leading dog behaviorist, Dr. Ian Dunbar - treating your hyper dog



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Please consult the services of a Professional Dog Trainer, Behaviorist or Veterinarian before implementing any of the advice contained on this site.