Why Your Dog is Hyperactive

If your dog is bouncing off the walls, this could be why. There’s a big and important difference between canine behavior that is abnormal and behavior that is actually normal given the dog’s circumstances, but undesirable. Imagine your canine companion is tightly wound, wired, and has no desire (ever) to settle down, relax, regroup, you’ll probably refer to him as being hyperactive or suffering from ADHD. But even though the term is widely used in our society today, the actual clinical syndrome of hyperactivity is very rare in canines.

If you know someone with ADHD, you may find it interesting to read that hyperactivity in dogs symptoms include:

  • High energy
  • Distractible
  • Hyperactive (lots of fidgeting and movement)
  • Unable to pay attention
  • Impulsiveness

At it’s worse, these symptoms can aggravate serious implications. Dogs suffering from hyperkinesis may:

  • Become aggressive or snappish when stressed out
  • Be hard to train due to their distractibility and nervous energy
  • Poorly socialize with other dogs leading to more anxiety
  • Be overly attention-seeking

It’s probably more accurate to label most dogs who are hyperactive as hyperkinetic. These dogs don’t ever seem to get used to the normal sights, sounds, and smells of their environment. They overreact to ordinary stimuli in their everyday lives. They seem unable to rest, no matter how quiet the surroundings or comfy the bedding.

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Causes of Hyperactivity

The list below shows the most common biological and environmental factors that may lead to hyperactivity. Although it’s important to note, your dog may be hyperactive from just one or all seven of these factors.

  • Breed of the dog
  • Early puppy years
  • Exercise and training 
  • Diet regimen
  • Structured environment

What to Do If Your Dog Seems Hyperactive

Since only a very small percentage of dogs are clinically hyperkinetic, I recommend you evaluate your dog’s lifestyle from every angle as a first step.

  • Make sure your dog is getting plenty of exercise.
  • Provide mental stimulation with puzzles, treat-release toys, hikes and other outdoor activities that appeal to your dog’s natural instincts.
  • Focus on desired behaviors your dog performs rather than on what you don’t want him to do. Dogs respond to positive reinforcement behavior modification, which does not include punishment.
  • Enroll your dog in an obedience class or an activity that helps him focus, such as K9 nose work.
  • Feed your dog a balanced, species-appropriate diet to avoid food intolerances or allergies. Food sensitivity can contribute to restless, hyperkinetic behavior, not to mention less than optimal health.

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Other articles: How to Make Your Dog Happy, Common Cat Diseases