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.