The common belief about exercise for a hyperactive dog is that they need lots and lots of it. Not true. The more you exercise a dog the fitter it becomes, therefore the better able it will be to continue with it’s hyperactive behaviour at home! Yes it might be tired initially after the walk (although I’ve helped many owners who complain that this isn’t the case), but it will be able to keep going for longer and longer, the fitter he/she gets!
Let’s break this down to answer the question properly…
Why your dog is hyperactive.
The most simple way to explain this is to imagine that you are hosting a party. You have lots of guests at your house. You feel responsible for making sure that everyone is having a good time. You are worried about wanting to be a good host, so you rush around making sure everyone has a drink, some food, someone to talk to etc. And when that’s taken care of you’re doing a little bit of tidying up, putting coasters under rouge classes, and generally not stopping as you take care of your house and your guests… You would do this regardless of how much exercise you have had.
Now imagine that you go round to someone else’s house for a party. Would you behave the same way there? Of course not. It’s not your house, not your party, not your problem! You might make a cursory offer to help with something, but on the whole you relax and enjoy yourself, regardless of how much exercise you have had.
Why is this relevant? A hyperactive dog is hyperactive because he/she feels responsible. There is a house and some family members that need looking after, and your dog doesn’t realise that this is being taken care of by you. Remove the feeling of responsibility, then they can relax, like a guest – regardless of how much exercise they have had. No need for rushing around, unable to relax.
Does exercise help?
There is so much talk of how much exercise a dog needs that surely it must be beneficial still. Well that really depends on how your dog feels about the type of exercise you provide. E.g. if your main form of exercise is the walk, it’s important to be aware that for a lot of dogs it is actually very stressful. They see it as the pack leaving the safe house, going out into the unknown territory, where there are potential dangers around every corner. Feeling like this is actually more likely to keep your dog hyperactive, as they will have more adrenaline in their systems than a dog that hasn’t gone for a walk. There’s more information about walking dogs here.
Of course exercise is an important component in staying healthy. And exercise came be obtained in more than one way. You could spend some time playing with your dog to get them moving (however if they are being hyperactive, I doubt they need help with that at the moment!). This needn’t be all day every day. Think about how often they recommend humans exercise…
What else can make a dog hyperactive?
The main cause of dog hyperactivity is the feeling of responsibility and the inevitable stress that comes alongside it. There are other factors that can affect it too. For instance food is a consideration (but never the stand alone problem). If your dog is having a lot of high sugar food, or food full of artificial additives, and E numbers, then that won’t be helping the situation. So in addition to addressing the feeling of responsibility, it’s important to ensure that you aren’t also doing the equivalent of giving kids sweeties and caffeine! Switch your food up to something more natural.
A busy and noisy environment can also contribute to a dog finding it difficult to relax.
How can I stop my dog being hyperactive?
I have a whole blog article on hyperactive dog behaviour you can read. In a nutshell, you need to take on the leadership role yourself. Create a calm environment which allows a dog to feel calm. If there is going to be lots of noisy play with children, the dog might be better off in another room for a while, so they don’t feel responsible for what’s going on.
To find out how to take the leadership role you can give me a ring on 07908 192656 or read “The Dog Listener” by Jan Fennell.