Thursday, June 21, 2012

Stress or Hyperactivity?

Do you ever suspect that your dog is a bit too hyper?

Dogs can become hyperactive when they are over-stimulated by sounds, smells, and sights. If you have been exposing your dog to lots of new situations or experiences, he might be a bit overwhelmed by them.

If this is the case, you can help him by giving him a break. Find a place in your home where you can bring your dog to calm down. This should not be seen as a punishment. Instead, it is a quiet, stimulus-free area where your dog can relax and unwind. If your dog is crate-trained, even better! Crates are the perfect environment for this. Make the experience a pleasant and inviting one so he wants to go on his own. Reward him for going to the calm area, and give him attention when (and ONLY when) he behaves in a calm manner.

Some dogs are hyper by nature. They cannot help it, it is just part of who they are. If your dog is so full of energy that he is becoming destructive, give him a human-approved way to burn off all that extra enthusiasm. Take him for walks or on runs where he can release this energy in the form of exercise. Taking him to a dog park where he can run freely with other dogs. By the time you get back home he will be calmer and more relaxed.

Along the same lines, some dogs become hyperactive when they are not getting enough mental stimulation. A bored dog will look for things to do, and what they find might not be your first choice of entertainment.

How do you know when a dog is bored? They frequently fidget or seem restless. They might pace, pant, or drool. If you have a bored dog, try incorporating more games into their daily routine and adding interactive puzzle toys. This will give you a well-behaved dog and give him something to occupy his mind and body.

Your dog might also be extra-hyper because of anxiety. Sometimes stressed dogs can show behaviors that are borderline obsessive, such as repeating the same task over and over. You might also notice that your dog has chewed bald spots in their fur or has begun destroying household items. What seems like restlessness could be your dog's way of externalizing his or her anxiety.

To reduce your dog's stress levels, you first have to find the cause of the stress. Really think about what could be making your dog anxious. Have you had any recent changes in your life as a new family member, a new apartment or house, or even just moving furniture around? Seemingly small changes can upset your dog greatly.

Once you have identified the stressor, the next step is to help your dog adjust to it. Spend time with your dog, give them lots of love, and be patient - some changes take time.

Another thing that you can do to help your dog relax faster is using one of those dog pheromones (natural, calming compounds) that releases the scent into the air. These are the same types of compounds released by mother dogs around their puppies, and they really have a comforting effect on dogs. A great, easy way to soothe a hyper dog.

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