5 Ways to Calm Down an Overly-Energetic Dog
Veterinarian Reviewed by Dr. Janice Huntingford, DVM on April 6, 2019
Posted in Behavior Management
Some dogs are calm almost all of the time, relaxing on the couch and not giving a care in the world, while other dogs are active and hyper, with a seemingly endless stream of energy. While a combination of the two is usually best, the latter can be downright exhausting for pet parents who can’t stimulate their dogs 24/7.
Energetic dogs can be a challenge to care for because they require a lot of time, energy and patience. Some dogs are naturally like this—certain breeds are known for their constant energy and desire to move. Others may not be getting enough stimulation throughout the day, leaving them with pent-up energy when you return home.
If your dog won’t stop running around or barking, especially during inappropriate times, and you want it to settle down, here are some tips.
1. More exercise
Often, dogs are acting overly energetic because they aren’t getting the exercise they need. One of the best ways to help your energetic dog relax is by giving it plenty of time and space to blow off steam. A thoroughly exercised pooch is more likely to relax, since it will need time to rest and recuperate from lots of fetch and running around.
Try taking your dog on a longer walk or run each day, playing a few more minutes of fetch or engaging it in a longer tug-of-war session a few hours before bed. However, be mindful of increasing exercise periods drastically; you should always add exercise slowly, so you avoid pushing your dog too hard.
Also, if you’re concerned about not having enough time each day to give your dog the exercise it needs, consider hiring a dog walker to take your pup out while you’re busy or drop your pooch off at doggy daycare.
2. Mental stimulation
Dogs don’t only need physical stimulation to help them calm down. They also need to stimulate their brains throughout the day. A dog can easily become bored if it is stuck inside all day, if it’s taken on the same run multiple times a day or gets stuck playing fetch for too long.
Try teaching your dog a new trick, playing puzzle games, taking it somewhere it’s never been able to explore or letting it engage with other dogs in a dog park to give its mind a little challenge.
3. Calming supplements
Many companies are creating calming chews or supplements that are designed to instill emotional balance and calm behavior in dogs that are hyperactive, anxious or nervous. These types of supplements often use a blend of natural ingredients to regulate nerve responses and calm anxiety without sedating the pet. If your pet acts hyper due to anxiety or stress, these may be a useful solution.
4. Create a calming atmosphere
Dogs tend to get really excited when there is a lot of commotion happening. This is why dogs will bark when people are yelling or acting excitedly. If your home is in a constant state of excitement, it’s more likely that your dog will be, too.
To get your dog to calm down, try making your home a calmer place to be, especially around downtimes like bedtime. Speak in soft, calming tones, avoid loud noises and try not to play with your dog in an excited way before periods of rest. Instead, encourage it to sit next to you and be brushed or pet softly while you wind down.
5. Implement more training
Sometimes, overactive dogs aren’t full of energy as much as they are poorly trained and don’t understand how to act in a calm way. These types of dogs might jump all over people as soon as they enter the home, get overly excited at inappropriate times and invade personal space when they want something because they know excitability will get attention from their owners.
Part of rectifying this behavior may include only interacting with your dog when it is calm. If you get upset or respond loudly to your dog’s behaviors, you will show your dog that it will receive attention, even if it’s negative. Train your dog to sit before getting what it wants, such as food, bathroom breaks or playtime, and incentivize calm behaviors at appropriate times.
Know what your pooch needs
Some pet parents mistakenly believe something is wrong with their dog when it just won’t seem to calm down, but more often than not, there is some need of theirs that is not being met. Pay attention to your pup and experiment with additional exercise, new games and calming behaviors to try and curb your pet’s overwhelming enthusiasm.
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Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan