If you have ever been around dogs, surely you have seen at least one that could be called hyperactive. These dogs are seen as overly bouncy, in-your-face furry balls of never-ending energy. There are many things that can cause a dog can act like this, such as a high-grain diet, under-socialization, a lack of obedience training, or not enough exercise.
People are often shocked to hear that the kibble they are feeding their dog is what causes him to excitedly knock the children over on a daily basis. Just like a kid with a lollipop, your dog could be eating a large amount of sugar and carbs, causing his body to create more energy than he has the ability to burn. Kibbles that use corn, soy, or wheat are the main perpetrators in this case, as a dog’s body was not meant to process these kinds of ingredients. The body quickly turns these carbohydrates into sugars that need to be burned by the dog, otherwise they will become fat cells sitting on your pooch’s hips.
Lack of Socialization Skills
A dog that hasn’t been properly socialized may be an overwhelmed dog that has no idea how to handle an exciting situation. His anxiety can bring on symptoms like jumping up on strangers, pacing back-and-fourth on his leash, or spinning in circles in the home. While socialization does the most good during the puppy-hood years, even an adult shelter dog can be desensitized and learn how to accept these triggers and behave in a socially-acceptable manner instead of with this uncontrolled hyperactivity.
Aside from under-socialization, a dog may also be under-trained. Basic obedience training gives a dog a strong foundation in learning what is acceptable, and what is not, in our human world. When your neighbor’s dog continuously leaps from the ground to lick your face, he may not be overly-hyper, but instead, does not know how else to greet you. This type of hyperactivity could be diminished by giving the dog some basic lessons on how to greet people of all ages and would prevent the dog from over-reacting to such a stimulus.
Lack of Exercise
The most common source of hyperactivity is a lack of exercise. In today’s modern society, it can be tough to find the time to take the family pet for a walk or a romp in the park. Unfortunately, it is the dog who suffers the most from this convenience issue. The dog may become overly energetic in mild play indoors, or may become destructive, dig holes in the yard, or bark excessively. All of these are outlets for pent-up energy and stress. These unwanted behaviors are self-reinforcing to the dog because, to him, they feel good when he does them. It’s a form of physical or mental stimulation that he is lacking from not getting enough exercise.
As previously stated, basic obedience is a wonderful first step in curing your dog’s hyperactivity no matter what the cause may be. Providing him with behavioral criteria that he can achieve with positive consequences is greatly beneficial to eliminate any unwanted behavior. Secondly, provide an outlet for your dog’s seemingly never-ending energy. If your dog has leash manners, a walk becomes pleasurable for both your furry friend and yourself.
An Added Benefit: Bonding Through Exercise
To mentally and physically challenge your dog, consider training for a canine sport such as Agility or Flyball. One does not need to compete to reap the benefits of these activities! A very special bond will form between you and your pooch based on trust that may not have been there before. Your dog can become an exceptional athlete no matter his age or breed, and his hyperactivity may seem to disappear like magic.
The behaviors associated with hyperactivity may be caused by a number of sources. Your local veterinary professional and dog trainer can be a valuable source of information to help you and your dog become happier house mates. You should be able to enjoy your dog’s company and share your lives together, not just deal with it!