Hyperactive Behavior in Dogs

Learn about causes and corrective actions for hyperactive dogs.

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Hyperactive Behavior in Dogs

Signs of Hyperactivity

  • Restlessness such as consistent panting, pacing and/or running around the house
  • Destructive chewing or tearing things up
  • Consistently blocking your path as you walk
  • Rarely settling to rest despite exercise
  • Never-ending pushing to play
  • Barking and spinning at everyday noises
  • Excited nipping and/or barking at people during play
  • Obsessive tail chasing

Causes and Corrective Actions for Hyperactive Dogs

Attention Seeking

Hyperactive canine behavior can annoy the most patient owner and often prompts a resigned "We'll go outside" or, alternatively, negative attention in the form of verbal reprimands, both of which satisfy the attention seeker.

ATTENTION SEEKING Corrective Actions: Don't reward attention seeking hyperactive behavior, instead ignore your dog or leave the room and then offer attention when he's calm and well-behaved. Provide ample physical and mental exercise daily through training, interactive games, walks and free running or swimming in safe areas. Train positive yet firm obedience that includes a "settle" command that tells dog to go lie down, chew on a toy or otherwise suitably occupy himself.


Breeds produced for hard daily activity like herding or hunting often possess very high energy levels that, if not given an outlet, can produce hyperactive behaviors.

Improper Excecise

Breeds produced for hard daily activity like herding or hunting often possess very high energy levels that, if not given an outlet, can produce hyperactive behaviors.

GENETICS/IMPROPER EXERCISE Corrective Actions: Talk to breeders and trainers about your breed's normal exercise requirements and provide appropriate amount of physical and mental exertion daily through training, interactive games and free running or swimming in a safe area. Though not sufficient exercise alone, suitably long walks per your breed help most dogs relax. Pursue a high-energy-burning canine sport such as agility, flyball, disc dog or dock diving. Don't let dog push you to do more once you provide sufficient exercise, always control when activity begins and ends to provide definite boundaries. Never praise, laugh at or encourage hyperactive behaviors. Train a "Settle" command that tells dog to go lie down, chew on a toy or otherwise occupy himself appropriately.

Environmental Stress

Sensitive or nervous type dogs sometimes display hyperactive behaviors in response to an environment that proves too hectic, noisy and chaotic for their comfort level.

ENVIRONMENTAL STRESS Corrective Actions: Maintain a consistent schedule of feeding, walks, play, potty trips and other activities to provide much needed security and stability. If romping children or teenage video game noises amp your dog up, allow him to stay with you or in a quieter area of the house until things calm down. Note your own stress level — dogs key in on their owner's state of mind, meaning if you act stressed and somewhat hectic, so shall your dog. Play soft music as this seems to have a calming effect on some dogs.

Food Sensitivity

Just as in children, sensitivity to certain ingredients in food can make a dog hyperactive.

FOOD SENSITIVITY Corrective Actions: Feed a premium diet with natural preservatives to avoid chemical ingredients as much as possible or, in case grains might be the culprit, try a grain-free food, quality premade frozen raw diet or prescription diet. Feed only natural treats, as well. Work with a veterinarian to determine the best way to use diet to isolate which ingredients may be causing hyperactivity.


Poor overall health, nutritional deficiencies, known or unknown medical conditions, reactions to medications or household chemicals and other physiological problems can account for canine hyperactive behaviors.

MEDICAL Corrective Actions: If you suspect a medical condition, write down any specifics you notice, such as your dog acting more hyper after receiving medication or displaying unexplained behavior changes, then schedule a thorough examination and discuss your concerns with the veterinarian.

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Galadriel   Lothlorien, ME

11/25/2011 11:54:29 PM

Good to keep in mind.

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