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.
hi ive read your site and im sure that would work but i have a few problems i have to work with you see i have a fawn red nose pitbull that is so sweet and just wants to be with you but i am only with my mom half the time amd my mom works a lot while we are gone so i want to be able to take her to my dads house but she is very hyper in new places and for a while right after we get home.we also have no fence at our moms and our condo is not big enough to play a good game of fetch in also she has to be on a leash outside othrwise she doesnt listen and runs away from u . and at our dads we have a cat and sophie has a huge obsession overcats and i dont know how to control it do you think you can hel me?
My Shiba was crazy hyper like that as well – except he was not very sweet 🙂 At the time I did not have a backyard and Shiba really did not have a good recall, so I had a similar situation. It is tough because as you say off-leash time helps a lot.
Some things that helped –
1. I walked him a lot – 3-5 times a day.
2. My neighbors had cats so I also practiced cat desensitization exercises with him every time we went out for a walk.
3. What really helped was some off-leash time especially with other social dogs. My nearby SPCA had a really nice fenced in area and I would take him there and play lots of games with him. Sometimes, he would get to play with the social SPCA dogs.
4. My neighbor had a really social dog, so I cleared out one of the rooms in my house and made that into his play room. I would go pick up my neighbor’s dog very often and let them play in the empty room.
5. I also explored doing dog daycare and dog walking. These are great if you have a social dog. My Shiba was very stubborn and did not like being away from his people so it did not work out very well for him. However my Siberian really enjoys going to daycare and getting to meet lots of new dogs and people.
Hope this helps – let me know how it goes.
Hi, i have a 3 month year old Siberian Huskey and he is bitin everythin that he can get his teeth in to. He likes to Chew ure hand if u have been petting him. I’m scared incase some child goes to pet him and he bites there hand. He is also very hyper runnin around the house n jumpin on the couches. You got any ideas how i can control this?
Puppies and young dogs especially energetic breeds like the Siberian will use their mouth a lot to explore the environment. What we do with our hands, dogs do with their mouths. It is a way of learning their environment.
It is up to us to teach our dogs what behaviors are desirable and which are undesirable so that as you say, we can keep them safe.
What helped most with my dogs is to be clear and consistent when communicating with them. I first establish a mark (e.g. Yes, Good) for when my Husky does something desirable and a no-mark (e.g. Ack-ack, No) for when my Husky does something undesirable. Every time she does something I do not want, I no-mark and get her to do something else.
A fun exercise that I used to do with my Shiba was I would play with him. When he started biting on my hand, I would Yelp and stop play. The Yelp usually startles him which makes him stop. Then I would just stand, fold my arms, and turn away from him. If he kept biting, I would either leave him alone in his enclosure (if he is in an enclosure), or I would put him on time-out.
I do something similar for when he gets on the couch. I no-mark him, and give him an alternate command, e.g. off. If he does not comply then I remove him from the couch by body blocking or with a drag lead. If he escalates his behavior and starts biting me, then put I him in time-out. Here are some puppy techniques that helped a lot with my Shiba puppy when I first got him –
Here is more on puppy biting techniques –
Also Sibes are extremely energetic dogs. My Sibe is now 2 years old and she is still a go,go,go girl. I take her out hiking for about 2 hrs every day, and she still has lots of energy to burn when she gets home.
Apart from walking and dog games, interactive food toys are a great way to keep your dog busy and exercise him mentally.
Hey there, so I have this problem with my 9 month old blue heeler/corder collie mix. He is a good dog but my only problem with him is when I take him outside on walks or to play or whatever and when he see’s another dog he will start whining and raise his hackles and pretty much ignore me completely. It almost looks like he is being aggressive but if I were to let him go he would just run over there tail wagging and and try to play with the dog ( I have yet to see him be aggressive towards any other dogs). He just wants to play so bad and see the other dog he goes crazy and will even start combining his whines with barks.
Now I have trained him and he will sit,lay down, stay and come on command that is of course as long as there isn’t another dog around. Also I don’t think this is an exercise issue because in the summer I would take him hiking with me and it would be 90+ degree’s and he is slowly trotting along from shade to shade barely going faster than a brisk walk and after a hour of that he seems tired, but if a dog was to show up he would instantly have all of his energy show up and take off after it.
Don’t know if this helps but when we got him from the animal shelter he was 4 month’s old and the people brought him out and a few other dogs to get some exercise and all he did was follow around this older dog and tried licking his mouth (being submissive the whole time) while the other dog just tried to play fetch and snap at our soon to be pup every minute or so because of how annoying he was being, yet our dog still kept on following him like he was the only thing in the world.
Also a side note we just got a puppy last week and they get along great and I can give him commands and he will listen without a problem. And usually after 20 minutes of playing with a new dog he will listen, it is just when I walk him and he wants to see every dog behind the fence and play with them and if he can’t get to them he goes crazy.
So anyways my question is how can I get my dog to not spaz out and completely ignore me every time he sees a new dog?
My Shiba Inu is very dog focused as well. It may be partly genetic, but I speculate that it was also partly because he did not have too much human attention when he was a really young puppy.
My Husky came from a really good breeder who spent a lot of time socializing her when she was young and she is very people focused.
In terms of meeting other dogs while walking you want to create as many neutral experiences as possible. It is also important to stay very calm throughout the whole thing.
With my Shiba I would always get a bit stressed when I saw another dog and that only made him go even more crazy. Once I controlled my own energy, things improved significantly with his behavior as well.
Then I would just move him along. In this way he learns that when he sees other dogs, it is boring and nothing happens. Holding the leash close to the collar will give you much better control to just move him along. The more meetings you have where nothing happens and he just moves along, the less excited he will get in the next meeting.
I also take note of houses with really reactive dogs and make sure I cross the road to create more space between them and my Shiba. I will also cross the road when we meet excited dogs on the street.
At the same time, you can do desensitization exercises with him with other dogs in a controlled situation. This will slowly teach him to focus on you even when there are other dogs around.
Here are some of the techniques I used on my Shiba for meeting dogs on the street –
I have a one and a half year old German Shepard dog. I have found that just walking and obediance is not enough, often I would get more tired than him. One thing I have tried that really tired him out and not me was to use a bicycle to tire him out. Basically I had to make sure I could easily get him on a heel and spent a little time acclimating him to the bike. After that I would go at a light pace, enough to get him to a light trot. So far he is so tired he has very little energy and I am not worn out. One thing to always keep in mind is start slow and always make sure to keep an eye on your dog to avoid injuring him/her. This is a good idea for those who do not have alot of time and energy to invest in walking.
That is a great suggestion jdavismp.
You should write an article about how you trained your dog to run with your bike. I think many people would find something like that to be very useful – including me! 🙂
i have a 91/2 week old male bichon frise
he has about a 3 hour hyper phase which usually starts at 5.30am!
in addition to chewing wires/cables, and getting friendly with my brothers leg!! and barking!
he isnt lead trained yet, so walks are out of the question as he doesnt move! he starts training classes nect sunday but this only hafl an hour evry sunday.
I would definitely stop the leg-humping. When my dog does that, I no-mark him (Ack-ack), and move him off. It may be easier to do using a drag lead with a flat collar.
Then, engage him in doing something else -obedience commands is usually a good exercise. If he goes back to humping, then put him in a brief time-out. With consistency and repetition, he quickly learned that humping will get him into a boring room with nothing to do.
For chewing, I get my dog some safe chew toys. When he chews on something he should not, I no-mark him (ack ack) and redirect him onto a sanctioned chew toy. If he starts playing with the chew toy, then I praise him and play with him. I sometimes put a bit of food on the chew toy to attract his interest.
In general, we want to give our dog some structure, and teach him what are acceptable behaviors and what are not acceptable behaviors.
Here are some things that helped me when my Shiba was a puppy –
I also make him work for all of his food. This will help him expend some physical and mental energy –
Hope this helps. Let me know how it goes.
troubled canine at play time says
I have a lab mix that is just full of energy. due to my husband recent allergies to hime, the dog has to stay outside. I have a very large yard but no fence, so Sam has to stay on a chain, because he likes to run away. When people come to my house, they avoid getting near him because, he jumps, scratches, and mouths a lot. And it’s dangerous, for small children, because he will nock them down, and get scratched by him tryinng to play with the kids. I try everyday ( though I have not had him long) to go outside and give him some attention, and try to pet and play with him, and come back with bleeding scratches, and ripped shirts from him tugging on the bottom of my shirt or pant leg. I also try to relieve him of some of his energy by walking him. But he pulls so hard it’s nearly impossible for a woman my size to walk him. I just don’t have the strenth. He is not aggressive, but people are scared of him. I have been told to put him in obedience classes, but I live in a house that is about 30 mins. away, from the city. What should I do?
I definitely second the obedience class suggestion. That will help to teach Sam what are good behaviors and what are undesirable behaviors. It will also give you the tools to control him inside and outside the house.
The chaining is also not ideal as he doesn’t get any exercise and has a very small space to explore. It would be great to fence up the backyard so that he can have free rein. That will allow him to run, and help him get rid of some of his energy.
It is boring to stay in a single place all day with nothing to do. I make my dog work for his food, and I get him some high quality interactive toys and good chew toys. Make sure the chew toys are safe and durable – i.e. he can’t hurt his teeth chewing them and he can’t swallow large pieces of them.
I also do training exercises with my dog every day. First I establish a consistent mark (e.g. Good) and a no-mark (No or Ack-ack). When he jumps, no-mark him (ack-ack) fold up my arms, and turn away from him. If he continues, I walk away from him (this assumes that he is on-leash and can’t follow me – I get a friend’s help if necessary). As soon as he is calm and not jumping, I say Good, and start walking towards him. As soon as he starts jumping, I no-mark again and and turn away. This teaches him that not-jumping gets him my attention, and jumping gets no-attention. With consistency and repetition, he will quickly learned not to jump.
Walking him every day will also helped. A head-halti can help keep large dogs from pulling with very little force.
I also teach my dog the “sit” command. Sit is useful because when he jumps, I can just give him an alternate command, i.e. Sit. Once he does it, I can praise him and treat him. This refocuses the undesirable behavior into something positive. I usually combine teaching obedience commands with treats and bite-inhibition exercises.
For a mouthy dog, bite inhibition really helps. To teach bite inhibition, I hand feed my dog his food. I hold the food in a fist and feed him little bits slowly, if he grabs too hard, I yelp ‘Ouch’ and stop feeding him temporarily. After waiting a bit, I try again. If he uses a soft mouth, I praise him and keep feeding him. We can also start by using a metal spoon to feed a dog if he bites too hard on our hand. It is uncomfortable to bite hard on a metal spoon so that can help to teach a dog to reduce the force of his bite. Once he starts to learn, we can switch to hand-feeding.
Sam sounds like a really sweet dog who just needs to learn what are our human rules, e.g. when meeting people, etc. There are many more things that they will teach in obedience class, and it will help with control and bonding. Plus it will be fun for both you and Sam.
Labs are work dogs so they are highly trainable. 😀
Well I Have a Male australian shepeard and he really has a biting problem and also he is overly hyper and we dont know what top do with him at nights
Australian Shepherds are wicked smart and they can do really well with obedience. They do have a tendency to nip though, being a herding dog.
Some of my experiences with nipping –
Being a work dog, he also needs a lot of exercise during the day. I make my dog work for all of his food, walk him at least once every day, and do multiple short obedience sessions with him. I also follow the NILIF program so that obedience becomes a way of life.
Thank you for this article! It’s very helpful!
I have a 7 month old extremely hyper border collie/golden retriever mix. I’ve had him for about 3 weeks now. He lives in the backyard because my mother is allergic to animals, but I’m out there working/playing with him several times for several minutes a day.
When I try to transfer him off the chain to the leash to walk him, he starts to take off running extremely fast. When he’s on the leash, he’ll start jumping up and nipping at my arms and hands. He does this at the beginning of every walk, and it makes it hard for me to walk him. If he sees another dog or person during the walk, he’ll get excited and start jumping on them or on me again.
He weighs about 45 pounds now and is too big and too strong to be nipping and jumping. It seems like his previous owners didn’t train him at all.
He learns very quickly, and after ten minutes he already understands “sit”, but when he’s hyper and jumping up, it’s like he doesn’t hear the command and completely ignores it. I’m planning on taking him to a friend’s house soon to let him run around freely and play with their dog (they have a huge yard that’s not fenced in), but I’m afraid he’s going to run off so fast that I’ll never find him.
I’m getting him fixed next month in hopes it will calm him down some and not make him run too far away from me. Do you have any suggestions for letting him loose at my friends’ house? Anything else to make him calm down?
My Shiba used to do leash biting as well. This usually happens when he gets overly excited, and then redirects his excitement or frustration onto the leash.
More exercise, both mental and physical, helped a lot. I started doing short but frequent obedience sessions with my Shiba every day. Make sure to do an obedience session right before the walk so that you get him used to listening and focusing on you, then take him out.
The article above has more on the things I tried with my Shiba for leash-biting.
As for playing with your friend’s dog, that sounds like a good idea. Introduce them slowly and make sure to always keep things safe. Some dogs may get protective over their home territory, so that is something to look out for.
Also, you may want to keep your dog on a really long lead at first to make sure he doesn’t run off. They have 30 foot or even longer leads that people use to train their dogs on recall and such. Make sure to only use a flat collar and *NOT* an aversive collar.
I have a staffy who is nearly one years old now he is very hyper when people visit the home and alsovery hyper outside on walks i cannot let him off the lead and he pulls almost all the time. ive tryed almost everything i can think of to stop this behaviour as i have owned dogs before but he is the most differecult one i have owned so far he also crys alot in the home and seeks constant attention he is the same when outside with people always jumping up and generally doesnt listen to anything i say. Please help!!!
Some things that help with my dog –
1. Train him to give polite greetings.
When he jumps on people, I instruct them to turn away from him (don’t move away- just turn) and totally ignore him (no talk, no touch, no eye-contact). I also no-mark him (No, ack-ack), and move him away from the people as soon as he jumps. When he calms down and gives me a Sit – I move him back to the person and let him try meeting again. By repeating this exercise, he learns that jumping means don’t get to greet people, but paws on the ground means affection and attention.
2. In terms of pulling check out –
Draining some of his energy before the walk will also help.
I have raised quite a few dogs in my life, including a wolf-hybrid (wolf-dog, depending what your view is), but I have never had as much trouble that I do now with my one year old male lab mix.
From the time he was seven weeks old, he ran and pulled, jumped from high heights, and ran and ran. I would give him two walks per day, two hours long each as often as I could.
During the winter months as he grew older this was quite dangerous as there was much ice and he would pull and pull. Nothing I did worked. Not the heel command. Not wearing him out by playing with him prior to the walk.
I would let my wolf hybrid play with him, and eventually she would even get exhausted from him. I would spend time playing with him, and I would provide him with activities, such as the Kong ball, fetch, jump for it. I’ve trained him to sit, lay down, stay, and come. But it takes me three times of repeating the command to get him to listen. Yes, I’ve used treats and rewards for praising. This was how I trained my wolf hybrid, and all of my other dogs. So, I know how to train a dog. In fact, my previous retriever mix was so well trained even the city police were impressed with him. But the one I have now is more than a handful.
I had him neutered at three months based on the Vet’s recommendation. We believed it would calm him down, but even after a year old, he is still as hyper. I had to get a head halter to walk him on an easier method, but he still manages to pull and jerk. I’ve tried tips and advice from people just like you. I’ve tried the alpha command recommended to me (That was how I actually trained my wolf hybrid, but she was much different of course). I’ve tried the sit and stay, which works a little bit, but not for long.
It got to the point where the vet prescribed him medicine to calm him down. It worked for a while, but it soon became apparent one pill wasn’t enough, not even combined with long walks, wrestling, training, playing, etc. But I cannot keep giving my dog medicine. He is on a high protein diet, as he eats the same food as my wolf-hybrid, and he has been on this diet since he was given to me as a gift after my retriever mixed passed away last year.
This really baffles me as to his behavior. The vet asked me what his breed was. He is part black Lab, part Poodle, and part Golden Retriever. I was then told these breeds were the worst to breed together at the same time, because it caused deep behavioral problems.
Now my question is this. What advice can you give to me that will tire my dog out and keep him behaving on his walks and in the home? Because I’ve tried every advice I’ve been given.
Although tonight I did try something new. I filled his Kong with some dog food, and stuck peanut butter on the top with some more dog food stuck to the kibble.
He was busy for about ten minutes with it, then busily bouncing and chewing the Kong around the large room, and now he’s just rolling it around while he licks at it. But there must be more I can do. I may have to try out that fishing lure game with him and see if that works.
You seem to have done a lot of research in this area already. Some other things that may help –
1. Finding him a good daycare and putting him there once or twice a week. This will give you a break and if you find a good daycare, they will tire him out by providing him with many play sessions with other dogs.
2. Picking up the pace during walks. You could try jogging with him, doing roller-blading, or cycling with him. Only do this under the direction of a professional trainer so that you keep things safe for you and your dog.
3. Let him carry his own water during walks. Give him a dog backpack during walks and let him work by carrying his own water, and your water. Only do this if he is totally healthy and does not have any joint issues. Make sure not to overload him.
4. Make him work for *all* of his food. Use more challenging interactive food toys. The Buster Cube is good as well as the Omega Ball.
5. Maybe enroll him in an agility class. An agility course is great because it gives both mental and physical stimulation.
Hope this helps. Let us know how it goes.