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JoAnne
JoAnne, Veterinary Assistant
Category: Dog
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Experience:  I was a volunteer at the Cincinnati Zoo, Also I do Dog Rescue for handicapped animals
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hyperactive dog

Customer Question

what to give our dog that is very hyperactive
he is very hyper and very defiant will not listen to any commands
Submitted: 11 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  JoAnne replied 11 years ago.
I found this information for you hope this helps!


Does this sound like any pooch you know? Do you own a canine with these qualities? Do you wish you could give a pet some type of hyperactive drug, like Ritalin, to calm the pet down, for even awhile? Whether you refer to it as hyperactive, hyperkinetic, overactive, or has the puppy crazies, there are dogs that seem to be filled with too much excess energy & in need of a tranquilizer. Well, most of the time a level of activity believed too high from the owner's point of view, is actually some level of normal behavior such as play, contact seeking or exercise. Canines live in packs in the wild, with many ages a part of the group. Puppies play with one another, their parents, older siblings & other members of the pack. Rarely is the pup left alone because there are so many pack members to share responsibility of caring for the pack, which include the pups. Many instances of hyper behavior involves social behaviors & can be traced back to when dogs lived in the wild. Play is characteristic of young animals, & dogs can play by themselves with short bursts of running & barking, tossing, shaking, or pouncing on objects.   They explore & as they do, it is a form of play & exercise. Also, they play with members of the pack: humans & other dogs & other animals. A dog can be very insistent in wanting someone to play with it. Social play involves stalking, chasing, tug-of-war, & rough & tumble play fighting. It can include growling & play biting. To see a dog in play, they have a position called a Play Bow in which the dog is in a position where its rump is in the air & its head & shoulders are lowered. The tail is wagging; the bites are inhibited.   They paw with their front paws & have a open, panting face, often referred to as a dog's Happy Face." Heads can be cocked to one side.    

There are types of hyper behaviors, what they mean & how to understand & condition the pet to begin reining in some of that overactive behavior.

1.      PLAY.      A young, healthy dog that is in a single pet home & especially if the pet is left for hours,
          is HIGHLY MOTIVATED to engage its owners in play. Consequently, many owners tend to think
          their furbaby is hyper. The problem is compounded by confinement in an attempt to control
        the dog or to prevent the dog destroying property. When the dog is given freedom upon the
          owner's return to the home, the dog is even more active because of the isolation & restriction.
        Instead of stifling the play, owners need to permit the dog to engage in highly active play.
        Do NOT try to suppress the play because it is difficult to do & can impair the bonding
          between the humans & dog. The playtime should be directed towards appropriate objects &
          have the dog stop playing when the owners want it to do so. Exercise can be a form of play.
          Use long walks. Go to a park & allow the pooch to run, if possible. If you have land & it is
           fenced in, let the dog out to play. Frequent play with another dog is one of the best forms
           of play/exercise for a dog. Play tug-of-war with the dog. The growls a dog may use in
           playing is NOT an aggressive growl, but a "PLAY GROWL." If you cannot bring your dog
          under control after playtime, take the pooch to an obedience class. Classes like these can
            be another form of play for the dog.
                   There are other play tactics people must be aware of & take action for it an owner
             knows about it. Disruptive or Damaging play - such as running into the owner, rough
             leaps at the owner or grabbing arms or pants legs - This can often be stopped by using
             something to startle & interrupt the action. A LOUD NOISE such as a horn or a soda can
             with coins in it. Keep such object handy, & use it. The noise needs to be used
             EVERYTIME the dog behaves in this type of behavior.
2.        ATTENTION SEEKING BEHAVIORS.    The prolonged greeting at the door....   The constant
            attention seeking behaviors when the owner is home can sometimes be a major sign of
             separation anxiety.   These behaviors may last for several hours & are often thought of
             as Hyperactivity by many owners. A dog with type of problem behavior, usually, has other
            signs of anxiety, too. It may bark, whine, chew, dig, urinate or defecate in the house, All
             while the alone in the home. (Refer to Fearfulness in this section for assistance in dealing
              with Separation Anxiety.)    Another cause of Attention Seeking Behaviors is preventing the
             dog from have sufficient contact with you, the owner. In this case, this is another sign of
           Separation Anxiety. When such dogs are finally united with their owners, they are so starved
            for attention they will engage in repeated & prolonged greetings, play & other behaviors.
            They may bark or nudge until they are petted or get other forms of attention. If placed
              into a crate, while the dog may become quiet, the dog may simply be depressed & thus
             engage in even more attention seeking behaviors. The appropriate approach is to give
            the dog MORE ACCESS to social interactions in the form of play, exercise, walks or just
            being allowed in the owner's bedroom overnight. If it continues, or if the dog is constantly
            left alone for 10-12 hours a day, it may help to get a canine companion for your dog.
3.        REINFORCEMENT.   Sometimes, owners reinforce the dog's hyperactivity. As an example:
           chase the dog when it grabs a sock or spend minutes chasing the dog in an attempt to
            attach a leash. The dog may think this is a Great Game & needs to be done all the time.
             Another example of reinforcing the hyperactive behavior is when the owner pets a dog
             that nudges or barks. The dog is being, in essence, REWARDED for the hyperkinetic
             energy. Simply Stop the behavior you, as the owner, are performing in order to assist the
             dog in stopping the overactive behavior.
4.        BREED PREDISPOSITION.   Some breeds have been selected for their high levels of activity
             because they have had a job to perform, either in the past or they perform a job now.
             Some dogs are sled dogs. Some are herding dogs. Others are hounds & of course,
              terriers. If not permitted sufficient exercise, the activity level in the home may be
              overwhelming. This activity is Not related to either excessive play or reinforcement from
              the owner but represents a need, a strong motivation to run, to hunt, to explore, to
            work. The only treatment in this situation is to provide the animal with enough exercise
              & to train the dog to inhibit their activity upon command. If such dogs cannot be
             exercised enough, it can be helpful to keep the dog in a large, outdoor run or fenced yard
              for several hours each day. Prolong separation from the pack (you, the owner & family)
              can result in attention seeking behaviors.
5.        PHYSIOLOGICAL   INFLUENCES.    Hormones. Raging hormones of bitches in estrus & the
             dogs that want them. (By the way, in the dog world: bitches are females, while
              dogs are male) Hyperthyroidism can result in restlessness or nervousness. Dogs with
              Hyperkinesis, a disorder, have been described as being overactive & unable to learn to
              inhibit activity, difficult to teach obedience to & resist being restrained & are unresponsive
               to administered tranquilizers. These dogs, Like some children, respond to central
               nervous system stimulants such as amphetamine & they become calmer. The diagnosis
              of this particular disorder must be made carefully & the treatment must be monitored
              closely by a veterinarian. It is important to EMPHASIZE that HYPERKINESIS is RARE
               in DOGS.

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