Dog Hyperactivity

Table of Contents

Causes | Symptoms | Treatment


"Dog Hyperactivity is not common in dogs and tends to be due to a lack of sufficient exercise. If your dog does not calm down when instructed or does not respond to obedience training, the hyperactivity could be caused by a medical condition or diet."


True hyperactivity is not common in dogs. Most of the time the condition is due to a lack of sufficient exercise which should be a minimum of 30 minutes each day. More active breeds such as Labs, Border Collies or Terriers need as much as 2 hours of vigorous exercise a day (jogging, swimming, fetch). Be sure to differentiate this condition from over activity. Dogs that are overactive can calm down in response to obedience training or direction. Hyperactive dogs do not.

There are other conditions in which a dog may appear to be hyperactive but what is really occurring is something else. Some possibilities include:

Normal Puppy Behavior - Puppies are by nature active. They have not yet learned obedience. They have short attention spans and should be trained in short (15 minutes) sessions.

Overactive Adult Dogs - Certain breeds, such as those bred for fieldwork, tend to be very active. They need extra exercise and challenges such as playing fetch, agility training, and learning new commands, in order to burn off extra energy.

Pseudo-Hyperactivity - Dogs who are kept confined most of the day while their owners are at work may appear hyper when their owners come home. It is as if they have to fit 24 hours worth of activity into just a few hours of time, which is close to the truth. Providing more toys and activity will resolve the apparent hyperactivity.

Highly Reactive Dogs - These dogs are very easily stimulated. They respond to every little sound with barking. Obedience training will be helpful.

Attention-Seeking Behavior - If you give your dog attention when he acts out, for instance when he barks, he will repeat the behavior. Instead, reward him for good behavior and try to ignore bad behavior.

Separation Anxiety and Thunder Storms - Many dogs have reactions to stress in their environment with separation anxiety the most common behavioral disorder. Behavioral modification (positive reinforcement of behavior such as a treat when the stimulus occurs) has been effective in treating this disorder.

Canine diet and hyperactivity - diet when combined with increased owner attention to your dog can have a positive impact on behavior. Feeding a premium-quality diet such as Eukanuba Adult Premium Performance Formula, improves canine well-being by reducing the effects of a stressful environment including improved sociability, security, and contentment.


Symptoms of true dog hyperactivity include pacing constantly, chasing his tail, and panting accompanied by continual movement. Dogs may bark incessantly. Hyperactive dogs may also behave aggressively at times.

Diagnosing Dog Hyperactivity

If your dog seems hyperactive, take him to the vet. You vet will perform a thorough physical exam, and also do blood tests for thyroid problems that might be causing the behavior. If no physical cause is found, then the problem is behavioral.

Treating Hyperactivity in Dogs

If your dog has thyroid problems or other physical causes for hyperactivity, your vet will prescribe treatment for these. Thyroid problems are generally treated with daily medication.

Medication can also be given to treat hyperactivity that is a behavioral problem. Medication prescribed for this purpose includes antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs. Hyperactive dogs can also be treated with ADHD medications that are used to treat the condition in humans, such as Ritalin and Dexedrine.

The best way to treat dog hyperactivity non-medically is to make sure he gets sufficient exercise. Walk him twice a day for 30 minutes. Provide other opportunities for exercise and play. Be sure your dog has plenty of chew toys, particularly when left home alone.

Train your dog to obey simple commands like “sit” and “lie down.” Teach him the command and reward him for obeying. If you need help training your dog, attend an obedience class.

If you are already feeding your dog a high quality or premium diet, holistic veterinarians often recommend a herbal supplement that contains herbs associated with calming behavior. PetAlive PetCalm Formula for anxious and stressed dogs is made specifically for this problem.


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