Finding Inner Peace: Ways to Calm Your Hyper Dog

Pure youth crazy. English cocker spaniel young dog is posing. Cute playful white-braun doggy or pet is playing and looking happy isolated on white background. Concept of motion, action, movement.

Key Points

  • Veterinary science defines hyperactivity as a condition in which dogs exhibit excessively high activity levels and short attention spans even when they have sufficient exercise and training and live in a suitable environment.

  • Clinical cases of dog hyperactivity are rare, and a lack of exercise and training are the main cause of behavioral problems.

  • Genetic predisposition plays a main role in dog hyperactivity, and male dogs have a bigger risk of developing hyperactive behavior than female dogs.

  • Behavioral therapy is more effective when hyperactive dogs receive medication stabilizing their neural pathways, allowing them to respond better to training and commands.

  • Patience, consistency, and dedication are essential to help a hyperactive dog achieve stability and calmness.

Hyperactivity is a behavioral problem that affects both a dog's and their owners' well-being. While high-energy dogs are playful and fun, hyperactive dogs often become destructive, difficult to train, and even ignore your commands. The question is, what makes a dog hyperactive? Is it genetic, or is it a result of other underlying problems? More importantly, how do you calm down a hyper dog?

This comprehensive guide provides an in-depth explanation of dog hyperactivity, including its symptoms and causes, as well as tips on how to calm down a hyper dog and manage their energy level. Whether you have a hyper puppy or an adult dog, these methods and tools may help you manage hyperactivity in your furry friend.

dog doing yoga pose

What Is Dog Hyperactivity?

In canine behavior, hyperactivity, clinically known as Hyperkinesis Syndrome (HS), is when a dog exhibits excessive energy levels and restless behavior. However, it's crucial to distinguish between high-energy dogs and hyperactive ones. People often use these two terms interchangeably, but there is a distinct difference between the two.

High-Energy Dog vs. Hyperactive Dog

High-energy dogs are breeds with a genetic predisposition to have an active lifestyle, such as hunting, herding, and guarding. They are naturally active and thrive in outdoor activities, but they also know how to settle down and enjoy peaceful moments in both indoor and outdoor settings.

In comparison, hyperactive dogs engage in restless behavior regardless of their breed or activity level. Like humans suffering from hyperactivity, these dogs have uncontrolled energy levels and do not know how to calm down to a relaxed state. Consequently, they become destructive, anxious, and hard to manage. They may also find it challenging to focus, follow instructions, or settle down even after long periods of exercise.

According to research studies, dog hyperactivity is rare and occurs in 12-15 percent of the population. In almost all cases, full-blown symptoms manifest by three years of age when the dogs are past their prime puppy stage.

At What Age Does a Dog Start to Calm Down?

The aging process in dogs plays a significant role in their behavior and energy level changes. As dogs age, they become less active and energetic. Around seven, most dogs usually show their first signs of aging. They start sleeping more and eating less, and they begin to tire more quickly and take longer to recover from exercise. All these changes lead to a calmer personality change.

However, the aging process differs for each dog. Factors such as breed, size, and overall health, may affect the timing and the severity of these changes. For example, smaller dog breeds usually age slower than larger dogs. Their first sign of aging usually occurs when they reach nine to 10.

Always consult your veterinarian if you have concerns about your dog's age-related behavior.

Hyperactive Dog Symptoms

Dog hyperactivity may manifest in several ways. These symptoms are usually a good indicator that your pup is suffering from hyperactivity.

Be on the lookout for:

  • Constant barking and whining

  • Frequent jumping and hopping

  • Continuous pacing

  • Excessive destructive behavior

  • Short attention spans

  • Extremely impulsive

  • Lots of fidgeting movements

  • Emotionally unstable

  • Short-tempered and aggressive

    wild puppy

Why Are Some Dogs Hyperactive?

Like human hyperactivity, dog hyperactivity is always a product of biological and environmental factors.

Check out the following most common causes of dog hyperactivity.

Genetic Predisposition

A dog's genetic makeup plays a crucial role in determining their behavior and is responsible for guarding, herding, and hunting behaviors. Throughout the domestication of dogs, particular breeds have a higher tendency to exhibit specific traits with hyperactivity tendencies. In addition, male dogs tend to have a higher risk of developing hyperactivity than female dogs.

Hyperactive Dog Breeds

Research studies find that dogs in the herding and hunting groups are more likely to suffer from hyperactivity than companion breeds. History proves that some hyperactive traits are desirable characteristics that make a breed perfect for their jobs. Breeds least likely to exhibit hyperactive behaviors are Pembroke Welsh corgi, Chihuahua, miniature poodle, rough collie, miniature Schnauzer, and Chinese Crested.

Check out the breakdown below of the breeds most prone to hyperactivity traits.

Cairn Terrier

You may picture the Cairn terriers like that cute Toto in the Wizard of Oz, but they never spend that much time sitting patiently in a basket. They are busybodies that are full of stubbornness and extremely bossy.

Bred for hunting small animals, they are full of big dog energy in a small dog body. Many owners complain they are just as energetic indoors, and you constantly have to make sure they're not in some mischief. Another big problem with this breed is their tendency towards non-stop digging, as well as barking at any strange sound or object.

Jack Russell Terrier

Like the Cairn terrier, Jack Russells are small athletic dogs that specialize in hunting small prey. They are extremely noisy and constantly bark at anything and everything. They're incredibly active and need lots of exercises and mental stimulation or they'll create a ruckus in your house.

German Shepherd

German shepherds are iconic for their size, intelligence, and loyalty. They're incredibly energetic and want to be constantly on the move. But because of inbreeding to perfect the slender physical look and the innate hunting and herding traits, a lot of the hyperactivity traits also came along with the gene pool. As a result, some German shepherds are neurotic, anxious, and suffer from hyperactivity.

Staffordshire Bull Terrier

Before the introduction of using these dogs for dog fighting, the Staffordshire bull terrier had the title "nanny dog" for being the perfect playmate and nanny for young children. However, like the German shepherds, the terriers suffered from breeding problems as many dog fighter enthusiasts concentrated on making these dogs a fighter. As a result, many of these terriers suffer from behavioral and mental issues tied to hyperactivity.

Smooth Collie

The smooth collie is a type of herding breed responsible for caring for sheep and cattle. Unlike the German shepherds and Staffordshire bull terriers, the collies escaped the breeding problem. This makes them less prone to mental issues, but they still suffer from hyperactivity due to their natural obsession with herding and exercising.

Border Collie

Border collies are the most intelligent herding breed. When you combine intelligence with extremely high energy, you get a dog that adores work and becomes bored quickly without enough mental stimulation. These qualities are like double-edged swords, making them the best farm dogs and the most hyperactive dogs.

Underlying Mental Health Problems

In many ways, dog hyperactivity parallels the human form of hyperactivity. According to Dr. Sulkama, a behavioral ecologist at the University of Helsinki, the "association between hyperactivity/impulsivity and aggressiveness, fearfulness and compulsive behavior may refer to shared underlying neurobiological pathways and brain structures involved in these traits." For that same reason, the following mental health problems are common causes of hyperactive behavior in dogs.


Among the many causes of anxiety in dogs, separation anxiety is the most common trigger for hyperactivity. When dogs are not with their owners for extended periods of time, they become anxious and start to bark excessively and pace around aimlessly. Over time, the symptoms become worse and lead to hyperactivity. Other types of anxiety, such as noise phobia and general anxiety, are also top reasons dogs become hyperactive.

Extreme Boredom

Dogs need stimulation to stay healthy and happy. Without it, they exhibit hyperactive, destructive behaviors. When these dogs don't get enough exercise, the bad behavior compounds and worsens.


Some dogs may become overstimulated when they receive too many environmental stimuli. Loud noises, new people, and foreign environments are all possible causes. When these scenarios constantly occur and cause them to be in a state of shock, they act out in hyperactive behavior.

puppy lying down

Underlying Physical Health Problems

To understand why some dogs are hyperactive, it's essential to recognize the role that underlying physical health problems play. Listed below are some of those problems.

Thyroid Imbalances

The thyroid gland regulates the body's metabolism. When imbalances occur in the thyroid gland, it may lead to hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism. Hyperthyroidism causes an increased metabolism, resulting in hyperactivity. On the other hand, hypothyroidism causes a decrease in metabolism, hence low energy levels and lethargy. A simple blood test may determine your dog's thyroid levels and whether it is the root problem for their hyperactivity.

Brain Disorders

Brain disorders often play a role in hyperactivity. These range from neurological disorders to brain tumors, seizures, or head trauma. If your dog is experiencing episodes of hyperactivity without warning or has no related environmental factors, it's worth getting a professional opinion from your vet.

Nervous System Disorders

The nervous system and the brain work as a whole system, and disorders or physical defects may dictate your dog's behavioral problem. Impulsive behavior, anxiety, and aggressiveness have a lot to do with defects in the frontostriatal neural circuit and abnormal neuron activations in the prefrontal cortex, the anterior cingulate cortex, and the striatum.

Malnutrition and Food Allergies

A well-balanced diet provides the nutrients necessary for your dog's physical and mental health. Poor nutrition or food allergies that prevent your dog from properly absorbing crucial nutrients may result in poor neural and brain functioning and other physical and behavioral issues.


Unfortunately, dogs suffer from diabetes as well. When their blood sugar levels peak, they may become hyperactive and super impulsive, like a child going through an extreme sugar high. If you think your dog is exhibiting signs of diabetes, such as increased thirst and urination, extreme hunger, sudden weight loss, or fatigue, contact your vet immediately for a comprehensive examination.

Other Health Issues That Accompanies Hyperactivity

These dogs often also suffer from various health issues, such as high respiratory and heart rates, high levels of agitation, hyper-reactivity to stimulations, excessive salivation, a fast metabolic rate, lower urination production, and poor body coordination.

Owner's Experience With Dogs

Interestingly enough, the latest 2021 research studies on dog hyperactivity found that the owner's experience with dog training has a big role in dogs suffering from hyperactivity and impulsivity. For some strange reason, dogs from owners with previous canine pets tend to have a higher risk of developing hyperactivity. Researchers don't know what reason may contribute to this link, but they suggest that individuals tend to err on the safe side and pick a more docile breed as their first pets.

Seek Medical Advice

If you have a lot of problems handling your dog's behavioral issues, seek medical assistance from professionals in the field. Consulting with your veterinarian is an excellent first step in identifying and addressing underlying health problems. From there, your vet and professional dog trainers have all the knowledge and skills to assist you with combining medical treatment and behavior training to help your pup.

puppy lying down calmly

Should Medication Be a First-Choice or Last Option?

When dealing with hyperactive dogs, you may find yourself at a crossroads. Do you go with intensive behavior modification training as your first choice? Or medication right off the bat? The answer depends on the root of the problem. Is your dog suffering from a lack of training, boredom, or learned anxiety? Or is the issue physical and genetic-based?

If the issue stems from learned behavior, lack of training, and boredom, then intensive training, patience, consistency, lots of exercise, and interactive plays are the way to go. However, if your answer falls in the second category, training is a waste of time until your dog's brain chemistry calms down, allowing them to focus better.

Difference Between Daily and Situational Medication

Much like humans suffering from mental disorders that require a daily medication regimen, some hyperactive dogs may also require the same to help them stay functional and stable throughout the day. However, each dog is different, and their symptoms vary at alternate levels.

Situational medication may be better when symptoms only arise in particular situations.

Medication for Hyperactive Dogs

In veterinary terms, hyperactivity is a condition highlighted by abnormally high activity levels and short attention spans, even when the dogs receive adequate exercise and training and live in a proper environment. In severe cases, these dogs may constantly twitch and flail their legs during sleep.

Research studies find that human medications for treating hyperactivity also work well on dogs with the same behavioral problem. Here are the most common medication options your veterinarian may prescribe for your dog.

Methylphenidate (Ritalin)

As a common prescription for humans who have attention deficit disorder, Ritalin also calms and de-stresses hyperactive dogs. As a central nervous system stimulant, it helps your dog gain better focus so that they can concentrate on commands and training. While it's generally safe, you must carefully follow your vet's dosage directions, or it may produce undesirable side effects.

Dextroamphetamine (Dexedrine)

Dextroamphetamine, also known as D-amphetamine, triggers the central nervous system in a similar way as methylphenidate. It helps minimize obsessive behaviors and calms the pup. In general, this medication works slower than Ritalin. However, it is a great alternative when dogs don't respond well to Ritalin.

Clomipramine (Clomicalm)

Clomipramine is a popular tricyclic antidepressant medication option that vets use to treat dogs with aggression, obsessive-compulsive behaviors, and separation anxiety. This may be a great option if your dog engages in non-stop barking, excessive grooming, and other destructive behavior.

Best Medication to Help With Hyperactivity

Some other common options for treating specific anxiety-induced hyperactive symptoms include alprazolam (Xanax), Amitriptyline, Buspirone, fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft), and Iorazepam (Ativan). There is no one-size-fits-all solution to help calm a hyperactive dog.

What may be the best medicine to calm a hyper dog may not work for your dog's unique needs. Talk to your vet about the best option for your pup.

Natural Methods to Calm a Hyperactive Dog

Whether your dog truly suffers from hyperactivity or has naturally high-energy traits prone to developing hyperactivity, there are natural methods to calm a hyperactive dog. All these methods require patience, consistency, and dedication.

Regular Exercise Regime

One of the most effective ways to calm a hyperactive dog is to provide plenty of regular exercises suitable for their breed and size requirements.

Dogs that exercise first thing in the morning tend to be calmer and listen better to commands. If your lifestyle doesn't allow you to run your dog every morning, consider hiring a dog walker or getting a treadmill for your dog.

Lots of Mental Stimulation

A hyperactive dog gets bored easily and quickly. Instead of waiting for them to destroy your home, stimulate your dog's environment to keep them mentally and physically engaged. A great way to do this is to keep several sets of toys and rotate them out every few days. Don't just keep them in a basket or a bin. Hide their toys in different places so they have fun finding them as they explore your home. Food puzzles and self-activated ball launchers are also excellent ways to occupy them.

Proper Nutrition

A pet's diet plays a significant role in their behavior. Having all the proteins, vitamins, and minerals makes a big difference in your dog's nervous system functioning. Foods such as fatty fish, pumpkin seeds, and eggs have plenty of nutrients that promote brain functioning and reduce anxiety symptoms.

Consistent feeding time is another big change in a dog's behavior. If you ever experience "hangry" moments, you'll know that hunger elevates cortisol levels, making you feel agitated, anxious, and hostile. The same goes for animals. Scheduled feeding times keep their cortisol levels and blood sugar levels steady and allow your dog to live with fewer uncertainties in their lives.

Desensitization Training

One of the biggest problems hyperactive dogs suffer from is overreacting to stimuli. Desensitization training teaches them the proper reactions. This training works by exposing your dog to different stimuli in a controlled environment and rewarding them for remaining calm.

For example, if your dog likes to bark at doorbells, start by ringing the doorbell at a low volume and rewarding your dog for staying calm. Gradually increase the volume as your pup gets comfortable with the stimulation. Over time, they no longer see the need to bark at the doorbell.

Another important aspect of desensitization training is counterconditioning, which teaches your pup to associate stimuli with rewards rather than fear or excitement. Every time they stay calm to triggers that usually make them act out, give them treats and praise for remaining calm. Repetition helps your dog replace negative behaviors with positive ones.

pypppy lying on back

How to Teach a Dog to Calm Down and Relax on Cue

Counterconditioning comes in handy when you want to teach your dog to stay calm and relax on cue. First, you must teach your pooch to associate calm behavior with the cues "relax" or "calm." Begin by saying the cue words in a soothing tone while your dog is in a neutral and relaxed state. Give them a treat, praise, or their favorite toy every time they respond positively to the cue word.

Repeat this exercise several times a day until they respond positively every single time. Once your pup perfects the first step, it's time to bring in minor distractions, such as noises or smells.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation Technique

Another way to show your pup how to stay calm requires you to use soothing touch and massage along with verbal commands to teach your dog to progressively relax each muscle group in their body. Start by having your dog lie down in a quiet space. Gently massage their ears, neck, shoulders, legs, and paws, one muscle group at a time, while saying the cue word "relax" or "calm."

Gradually decrease the pressure and intensity of the massage as you move to the other muscle groups. Encourage your dog to take deep and slow breaths. You may find it a rewarding experience to lie next to your dog and breathe in unison. Always remember to reward your pooch with treats or a favorite toy at the end of the exercise.

How to Teach a Dog to Settle

The "settle" command is extremely helpful when you want your dog to stay put and relax without having to be in the same room as you. That sounds like a dream for many hyperactive dog owners. Although it may take weeks or even months for your dog to master this command, it is worth the time and effort.

To begin the training, choose a quiet space without any distractions. Have your pup sit or lie down next to you. Reward them a treat for staying in position and keeping their attention on you. Once they understand the command, reward them with treats and praise. Then it's time to make them stay in one spot for a little longer. For a hyperactive dog, go with 10 seconds, then gradually work up to a minute and longer. Over time, this exercise helps build up their concentration spans and allows them to stay calm when they feel anxious or hyper.

Teach Your Dog Self-Soothing Techniques

Introduce a chew toy if your pooch has difficulty staying in one spot. Let them know that directing their focus and energy on an appropriate chew toy or treat is okay. Be sure the toy is durable enough to withstand aggressive chewing. It's always smart to grab a couple of the same toys while you're at a pet store so that you always have their favorite chew toy on hand.

Managing Hyperactivity at Different Times

All dogs become slightly restless and energetic at different times throughout the day. Early mornings, late afternoons, and after meals are usually the time when you witness them doing zoomies around the house or acting out in certain ways. It is easy to understand why dogs are hyper in the mornings. But why late afternoons and after meals?

The late afternoon restless behavior has to do with their internal clocks and their bodies telling them it's time to hunt for their last meal of the day. As for the extra energy after meals, this change in energy has to do with the influx of blood sugar levels. Once you stick to a schedule of walking your dog and feeding them at the same time each day, their hyper behavior may subside.

How to Calm a Hyperactive Dog at Night

For some hyperactive dogs, the nights are the worst time for them. When the environment becomes quiet, they become extremely sensitive to every stimulus. Every sudden noise or light is enough to trigger their hyperactivity. Establishing a routine is the best way to calm a hyper dog at night. Start by taking your pet for a walk or run in the evening before they settle down for the night. Releasing a good dose of excess energy helps tire them out prior to bedtime.

Dedicating a sleeping area also helps them to ease their anxiety level. Ensuring the place is dark and playing white noise in the background to block out other noises makes your dog feel secure. Giving them a special toy or treat to gnaw on also further helps them relax. You may also want to consider giving your dog a massage and herbal remedies like chamomile or lavender to ease their anxiety.

Consult With Your Vet About Calming Aides

If nothing seems to help, you always have the option to use CBD oil or catnip to help your dog relax. However, before you give anything to your furry friend, consult your veterinarian to ensure these remedies do not interact with your dog's current medication. Get advice on the right dosage and supplements for your pet, as not all brands come from the same quality sources.

Dealing With Hyperactive Puppies

Puppies are always full of love and playfulness, but their energy levels may sometimes be difficult to handle. Luckily, they run out of energy more easily, and you have plenty of ways to direct their energy towards learning new skills and adapting to the new home environment. Regular playtime, running in the yard, and teaching them how to fetch are all excellent ways to burn off their excess energy.

In addition to physical activities, puppies need mental stimulation as well. Obedience classes, play dates, and introducing them to different social settings and people are all important for their development. When your pup's energy is out of control, help them learn calming and self-soothing techniques that ease them into a peaceful state.

Remember, puppies mimic you. If you stay calm, they learn to do the same. Even though rough play may seem cute, they often trigger biting behaviors in puppies. As a result, it's a good idea to avoid playing rough games, such as tug of war or chasing, as they encourage aggressive behaviors that are hard to unlearn later in life.

How to Calm a Hyper-Biting Puppy

Once a puppy discovers the joy of nibbling your hand, they're likely to do it whenever you come near. To stop this behavior, start by understanding why your pooch is biting in the first place. Puppies are naturally curious and like to explore their environment using their mouths. If you don't teach them bite inhibition, they may always use sharp bites as a reaction when they feel anxious or excited.

To curb biting, start by managing the environment so that your puppy is never in a situation where they have to resort to fending for themselves. The instant those little teeth come into contact with your skin, yelp out a sharp, high-pitched "ouch" and then ignore your pup for a few seconds. This reaction teaches them that biting results in an immediate end to the fun.

If you sense they're getting overstimulated, redirect their attention to a treat or chew toy. Always use positive reinforcement to encourage proper behavior. Never use physical punishment or direct angry yelling. Over time, they understand what is acceptable behavior and respond accordingly.

dog licking girl's cheek

Keep Calm and Pawsitive

Dealing with a hyperactive dog is a real challenge, but many effective solutions are available to improve your furry friend's well-being.

Although some dogs have the predisposition to develop hyperactivity due to genetics, mental health problems, and physical issues, every dog is unique and deserves individual attention. Identifying the factors contributing to your dog's behavioral problem is the first step to creating a tailored approach to manage their behavior.

Aside from medication, regular exercise, mental stimulation, and proper nutrition are just a few things that make a huge difference in your dog's behavior. The key to helping your hyperactive dog gain stability and calmness is your patience, consistency, and dedication to show them the ropes to better reactions towards stimuli. If you have any difficulty with your dog, you're not alone. Reach out to your veterinarian and professional trainers for assistance. Every dog deserves a chance to reach their full potential. Good luck on your journey toward finding inner peace for your pup.

For further information on other dog-related topics, check out our other articles on Barkspot.

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