2019-02-08 / Front Page / Pets

My dog is hyper and he’s driving me crazy

By Phyllis Beasley, CPDT-KA Owner/Lead Trainer, Praise Dog! Training


If you don’t provide enough exercise or mental enrichment, your active dog will find ways to entertain himself. Jennifer Staton’s Jack Russell terriers found their own entertainment with the aquarium. If you don’t provide enough exercise or mental enrichment, your active dog will find ways to entertain himself. Jennifer Staton’s Jack Russell terriers found their own entertainment with the aquarium. My dog is driving me crazy…he jumps on me all the time. He gets into trouble. He mouths me. He runs through the house. My dog never calms down. He’s got ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)!

Probably not. True canine ADHD, called hyperkinesis in dogs, is extremely rare and can be diagnosed by your veterinarian. According to Debra F. Horwitz DVM, DACVB, in her manual Canine and Feline Behavior, a true case of canine hyperkinesis is exhibited by a rapid heartbeat that does not slow down in rest, abnormally rapid breathing, excessive salivation, reduced amounts of urine, underweight, and a failure to calm down with external stimulation. Other possible health reasons for frantic or hyper behavior can be anxiety, hyperthyroidism, metabolic disease or food allergies.


Increase your energetic dog’s exercise. Fetch is a good way to do that. This is Kat Little’s Vizsla, Raine. Increase your energetic dog’s exercise. Fetch is a good way to do that. This is Kat Little’s Vizsla, Raine. It is much more likely that your dog is “hyper” because of youthful age, breed, lack of training, lack of adequate mental and physical exercise, social isolation (kept in the yard), or your inadvertent rewarding of inappropriate behavior. For example, you ignore your dog when he is quietly resting, but when he speeds around the house or jumps on you, he gets your attention. He doesn’t care if it is yelling or pushing; he still got your attention and has been rewarded for the behavior.

The dynamics of your family may also affect your dog’s behavior. If you have a loud, active family, your dog may respond in kind. Dogs can get overly excited when interacting with small children and have erratic motions. It is important to manage your dog’s interactions with small children and separate them when necessary, not only to discourage frantic behavior by your dog but also to prevent accidents with the children.


Working line breeds such as Labradors, Retrievers, and herding dogs are often very active and need constructive outlets for their energy and instincts. This is Jenny Meredith’s herding breed Australian Shepherd. Working line breeds such as Labradors, Retrievers, and herding dogs are often very active and need constructive outlets for their energy and instincts. This is Jenny Meredith’s herding breed Australian Shepherd. Working line breeds such as Labradors, retrievers, the herding breeds, or even mixes such as Labradoodles or Goldendoodles tend to be more active than others. These dogs were bred to perform a job and if they don’t have a specific job, they will find something else to do, generally something that annoys you.

If a dog is kept outside because he is active and subjected to social isolation, he cannot learn to be calm in the home. The situation becomes a cycle in which the dog is prevented from learning to be calm in the home. If you have one of these dogs, bite the bullet and bring him inside. Manage the frantic, active behavior with the use of barriers, tethering, or crating to maintain your sanity. However, management is no substitute for training, exercise, and appropriate interactions.


Do you have a wild and crazy dog? Chances are it is not hyperactivity, just part of his breeding or personality. This is Hannah Bauchat’s Tovin. Sarah Hickman photography Do you have a wild and crazy dog? Chances are it is not hyperactivity, just part of his breeding or personality. This is Hannah Bauchat’s Tovin. Sarah Hickman photography When a dog acts crazy, active, and frantic, what can you do to change it? First, take a deep breath and collect all your patience.

Consider changing his food to a good quality one that does not have food coloring or poor-quality fillers. Check the percentage of protein in the food. Unless your dog is a working dog, such as one that hunts regularly with you, a lower protein diet is all they need and can process. Try to keep the protein level at about 26 percent or less.


Enroll your active dog in a fun dog sport such as agility, disc dog, flyball or lure coursing. Or involve your dog in an activity that he was bred to do, such as hunting or herding. This is Emily-Rose Allred and Yeti. Enroll your active dog in a fun dog sport such as agility, disc dog, flyball or lure coursing. Or involve your dog in an activity that he was bred to do, such as hunting or herding. This is Emily-Rose Allred and Yeti. Increase his physical exercise and mental enrichment. Mental exercise is just as important as physical exercise. Remember how tired you would feel after taking an exam? Provide mental exercise and enrichment by feeding your dog his meals out of a food dispensing toy such as a Kong™ Wobbler, a snuffle mat or any other toy that makes him work to get his food. Play Find It games with food and treats. Invest in some dog puzzles.

Train him! Training not only helps you manage your dog, but force free training is fun for you and your dog and provides valuable mental exercise. Keep your dog in thinking mode and instill good manners by having him sit for everything he wants. Have him sit to put on his leash, sit to go out the door, sit to throw his ball, sit to get his meals or food dispensing toy, sit to be petted or sit for anything else he wants. It’s his way of politely saying please. Focus on impulse control cues such as attention, stays, downs, and leave it. Have a force free trainer help you teach your dog to relax on a mat, in which your dog not only learns to go to a mat on cue but chooses to go to the mat and learns to calm himself. If your dog gets too excited or aroused around other dogs, consider private obedience training.


Play with dogs of similar size and activity levels is great exercise. Traci Callahan’s dogs expend their energy with vigorous play. Play with dogs of similar size and activity levels is great exercise. Traci Callahan’s dogs expend their energy with vigorous play. Increase his exercise. Appropriate play with similarly active dogs is great exercise. Throw a ball. Take him running with you. Participate in one of many fun active dog sports such as flyball, disc dog, agility or lure coursing.


Diana Krause’s Shetland Sheepdog Zoey, a herding breed, finds ways to entertain herself if she is not working. Diana Krause’s Shetland Sheepdog Zoey, a herding breed, finds ways to entertain herself if she is not working. Don’t forget to pay attention to him when he is being calm. If you catch him lying down or sitting politely, praise him in a calm voice and stroke him calmly.

Return to top