All dogs are created equal, but certain dogs are created more hyper than others. I have three very energetic dogs, two Siberian Huskies and a Shiba Inu, so I have had my fair share of hyper dog challenges.
Here are some important lessons I learned, on how to calm a hyper dog or a hyper puppy.
1. Try to Remain Calm
One of the most important things to remember, if we have a hyper dog, is the best medicine for a hyper dog is calm energy.
If I lose my temper, get frustrated, or become angry, my dog will pick up on that energy and become even more hyper. When my dog is over-excited, I do my best to remain calm, and project calm energy to him.
2. Make Our Dog Work for His Food
I follow the Nothing in Life is Free program with all of my dogs. This means that they have to do something for me first, before I give them something in return. NILIF is a great way to –
- Motivate my dogs to follow house-rules,
- Help them learn that people are the source of good stuff, and also
- Redirect their hyper energy into positive pursuits.
I use part of my dog’s daily food for good behaviors throughout the day, for being calm, for following commands, for walks, grooming, and more.
Whatever food is left over, I put in interactive food toys, so he has to work for that as well. Interactive food toys are a great way to exercise my dog mentally, and to keep him engaged in a positive activity. Some food toys that I use include the Buster Cube, Premier Busy Buddy Collection, and of course Kongs.
Frozen Kongs are great to keep my dog occupied when he is in his crate, or to help calm him down before bed-time. I put some wet food into a classic Kong and freeze it. My dog has fun licking and chewing at it, and has less time to get into trouble. 😀
Variety is the spice of life, therefore, I try to figure out new fun ways, to deploy my dog’s food. For example, I may put his food on some paper, bunch the paper up into a ball, and then push the paper ball into a Holl-ee Roller toy. Sephy has a fun time figuring out this food puzzle!
Another thing that works pretty well with my dog is the Egg Babies toy. These toys have openings to give us access to the squeaker balls within. I open up the compartment, take out the squeaker balls, and put some food into the toy. Sometimes I stuff a regular ball into it, to make the toy more challenging. The Egg Baby is a soft-toy though, so some dogs may try to chew or shred it.
It is important that we are around to supervise our dog when he is working on a toy. We want to make sure that he does not swallow pieces of paper, soft-toy fabric, or rubber.
If our dog likes swallowing paper or soft toy fabric, then *do not* give him such toys. With rubber toys, make sure he cannot tear chunks off, because they may become a choking hazard.
3. Play Fun Games with our Dog
A game that my dog absolutely loves to play is the flirt pole.
A flirt pole is a simple pole or handle that is connected to a rope, with a toy at the end. We may create our own flirt pole or simply buy one.
I made my own flirt pole by getting a drain-plunger and detaching its wooden handle. Then, I drilled some holes in the handle and tied some rope through it. Finally, I attached the other end of the rope to a Premier Tennis Tail Toy. This Premier toy works well with my homemade flirt pole, because my dog loves chasing the fox-like tail on the toy.
However, it is only appropriate if we use regular rope, and not bungee or elastic cord. If we use an elastic cord, there is a high probability that the toy will bounce around a lot, and it may hit us, our dog, or others. As such, we should only use a very soft and light toy.
With this game, we may exercise our dog while not having to overly exert ourselves. Other fun dog play games include soccer, catch, fetch, and tug-of-war.
I always set up a consistent set of rules while playing with my dog. This helps to keep everyone safe, as well as helps my dog learn positive play behaviors and self-control.
4. Do Obedience Training Every Day
Enroll in a dog obedience training class or get a good positive reinforcement dog training book. Then, have short (10-15 minutes) training sessions with our dog, several times per day.
This will help establish us as pack leader, improve the bond with our dog, exercise our dog’s mind, and provide us with effective tools to control him in the house.
5. Daily Walks or Hiking Trips
Neighborhood walks are a great way to exercise our dog, and socialize him to people. Walking can also help with obedience and bonding.
We may walk our dog on a loose leash or in a heel position. Personally, I keep my dog on a loose leash most of the time. I only put him in a heel position when I need greater control, for example-
- When I see another dog, cat, or squirrel,
- When young children are around, or
- When my dog starts to get reactive.
Dogs enjoy roaming around and smelling social markers (dog urine) left by other dogs. They can easily do this on a loose leash. Being in a heel position all of the time, is probably more boring than death for a dog. Therefore, to provide a fun walking experience for everyone, relax, give our dog some freedom, and stop to smell the roses.
In addition to neighborhood walks, it can also be fun to go hiking on nature trails.
Note that different parks, or different trails within a park, may have different leash rules (on-leash or off-leash). We may have to try out a variety of parks and park-trails, before finding one that suits us and our dog.
Hiking can also be a relaxing way to socialize our dog to both people and other dogs. Unlike enclosed dog parks, hiking parks are larger and have a lower density of people and dogs. In hiking parks, owners are usually more engaged with their dogs, and are better able to control them. Hiking trails also offer an interesting environment for a dog to explore.
If we are too busy, consider hiring a dog walker to exercise our dog. Many dog walkers offer group-walks, where they will take a small group of dogs to a nearby off-leash park. This is a fun activity, and a good way to tire-out our furry friend while we are away at work.
6. Organize Play Sessions with Another Dog
One of the best ways to drain energy from a hyper dog, is to organize play sessions with other dogs. I invite social dogs over to my house, to have one-on-one play sessions.
Other possibilities include dog daycare centers or enclosed dogs parks. I prefer daycare centers because they usually screen a dog before admission, therefore, they usually have more social dogs. In addition, a good daycare will have dog playgroups that are well-supervised, as well as structured by size and energy, which makes things a lot safer.
Enclosed dog parks are open to all, so there may be aggressive and anti-social dogs. In addition, owners may not supervise their dogs well, because they are busy socializing with the other people at the park.
In my experience, it is difficult to find a good enclosed dog park. In addition, there is always an element of danger, because all it takes is one irresponsible dog owner, for a dog fight to occur. More on my enclosed dog park experiences.
While Dog Parks can be fun, they also bring plenty of NEGATIVE interactions by forcing your pet to come up against dogs that might be overly stimulated, short-tempered, outwardly aggressive or otherwise badly managed. Smart Socializing means keeping your friend dog-tolerant, and that involves AVOIDING dicey situations where conflict can spark.
What do you suggest for a super hyper dog (when it comes to inside the house or the backyard), totally anti-social dog (when it comes to just about anywhere that’s not inside the house or the backyard), and completly agressive dog (when it comes to strangers in the house or the backyard). Thanks.
My Shiba is also somewhat dog reactive so I understand some of the difficulties that you are going through. Some things that helped me with my Shiba include –
1. Desensitization exercises
I slowly desensitize my dog to people first and then to other dogs. In general I try to help my dog to re-associate people and other dogs with positive experiences. This article has more on desensitizing a dog to other dogs.
The process is similar wrt. a human. I make sure to keep things safe. I always have my dog on a lead and and not within bite range of the human. With desensitization to people, we can also have the person toss our dog some good food from a distance. This will help him associate new people with yummy food.
2. Obedience exercises
I do several short sessions of obedience exercises with my dog every day. This helps to drain some of his energy and help me with control inside and outside the house.
3. Make him work for all of his food.
4. Shorter but more frequent walks
I take him out for shorter but more frequent walks around the house. This allows me to bring him home quickly and do a time-out if he acts out (e.g. leash bites etc) during the walk. However, he can still get his much needed exercise.
The more I can drain his energy, the more receptive he will be to the desensitization and obedience exercises.
I also highly recommend getting some help from a positive reinforcement professional trainer. A trainer will be able to observe your dog’s behavior in real time, and come up with a training plan that is safe and suited to your dog’s needs.
my friend has a very hyper rottwieler she takes it for walks every day but its hard o socialize because everybody things the dog is mean because its a rottwieler its annoying when you walk ur dog and if a kid comes up to pet her the parents rush over and say dont touch that dog its mean
I know what you mean. I have a Siberian Husky, and some people think she is a wolf hybrid and are afraid of her. It is best to just move on with a smile 🙂 Some people are also just afraid of dogs in general because they may have had bad experiences before.
The good way to socialize my dog is to first introduce him to all my friends, and acquaintances. People I know will more likely to listen to my instructions on the right way to meet a dog. Sometimes strangers will do crazy, unexpected things. One time I met a lady who tried to pick up my dog without asking and without any warning.
Doing obedience commands when people are around can also be very helpful. When people see my Husky sitting and being calm, they are more likely to approach.
Hope this helps.
Thank you for all your wonderful advice. I will have to try some of these ideas with Russell.
Thanks catwoman. Drop by and let us know which techniques work best for you and Russell.
Once again a well laid out article on dogs.
Thanks healthgoji 🙂
I have a 9 week old Springer spaniel and she is always hyper for about 3 hours non stop, is there anyway to calm her down? also, do you have any tips on how to get her to respect the older dog in the house? im also getting an 8 week old springer tomorrow, do you think she will react? Thank you 😀
I have a black lab, and i take her on walks, but I’m getting a tad bit bored of daily walks, and “play with the stick” or my dog getting very muddy in our stream/cattails. I wish i had a simple way to exercise my dog, that doesnt bore me or my dog.
How about a dog sport? You can also compete in most of them.
There are a great variety so I am sure you will be able to find something that you and your dog will enjoy.
Hope things are going well with your two puppies.
My Shiba was really hyper too when I first got him. Some things that really helped –
1. Making him work of all of this food.
2. Plenty of exercise – off-leash play-time with other puppies really tired him out. Walks are also important after they get fully immunized.
3. Puppy class – training was fun for me and really good mental exercise for my dog.
As for the older dog, make sure you give him as much alone time as he wants. He should have a safe area, e.g. kitchen or crate where he gets to rest away from the young’uns 🙂
Share some pictures of your puppies with us. Would love to see them.
Sunny Robinson says
We have a spastic and energetic red merle Australian Shepherd who is always happy to see everyone. I’m pretty sure the tongue she whips everyone with (even in a passing hello lick) is linked to her hyperactive compulsion. If you snap your finger to tell her to stop doing something, she licks herself on the side or leg once or twice for comfort before darting off. She can’t stop wiggling or licking or running. It never ends! Lol.
I think all of these tips you give will be very useful for her! Thank you for the hub.
I love the look of Australian Shepherds. And red merle is such a unique coat. I have seen blue merle Shepherds, but never a red merle one.
And yeah Autralian Shepherds are very high energy – although someone told me that the Border Collie is even higher than that. I just can’t imagine – lol.
Do you have any pictures of your girl in your hubs? Would love to see her.
Let me know how it goes 🙂
Sunny Robinson says
That’s a great idea. I hadn’t thought of that. I’ll put together a hub all about my Aussie girls. Thank you! 🙂
I have a golden retriever and he never stops being hyper, i tried kong but he still is hyper and he gives up after. It is almost impossible to take him for a walk, what should i do?
Hyper is most often due to too much energy and not enough activity to release that energy. How old is your dog? What activity does he do every day?
Does he pull on the walk? When does he pull – all the time or just when he sees something interesting? Does he bite the leash?
For pulling – a possible short-term solution is the Gentle Leader head-halti. It allows us to control large dogs with very little force. This allows us to take our dog on longer walks for energy release. However, I still keep up with some regular leash training with a flat collar.
Some of the things I do with my dogs every day –
2. Obedience training.
3. They work for all of their food.
4. Play games (For a retriever – Fetch would be a great game to play with your dog)
Thanks for such a useful hub. I’m trying to train our puppy how to play fetch.
Oh she will so love to play Fetch 🙂 What is her name btw?
I wish my dogs liked playing Fetch more. Usually they will Fetch once – and then they just look at me as if to say – “I got it the first time, you get it the second time” – lol