Does your dog get all hyped up, barking, moving around, pulling the leash, panting heavily with its eyes bulging out? A dog in this state of mind is very difficult to handle. It just can’t be controlled, not before you have managed to calm it down, something that seems to be easier said than done. This post is about how to calm down a hyper dog.
There are several reasons why dogs get all hyped up, and several things you can do to calm them down and to keep them calm.
Don’t encourage exited behavior, discourage it
The way you act when your dog becomes overly exited will determine how it will act in the future. If you praise, caress and play with your dog every time it comes running in a very exited mood then it will continue to act this way. This is because you “rewarded” exited behavior and thus the dog understand that excitement will lead to rewards such as caresses and play. If instead you turn your back and ignore your dog when he/she acts like this then she/he will be discouraged and calm down.
One typical situation is when you have been out and you come inside your home with your dog jumping all over you, happy and very exited. A dog being happy to see you is great of course but if you are dealing with an over exited dog then you must ignore your dog at a moment like this. Give it time to calm down and once it is calm you give plenty of attention, affection and caresses. This will give your dog the right message.
Encourage calm behavior
Just like you must ignore/discourage over excitement you should encourage calm behavior. So when your dog is calm then you reward it with praises, caresses, play and maybe also a small treat. By doing this you will show your dog that remaining calm will be profitable and rewarded whereas being overly exited will make him/her ignored.
Enough physical exercise to tire the dog out
Physical exercise is very important for dogs and a lack of exercise can make a dog overexcited, frustrated and even aggressive. Dogs need to “burn off” excess energy and a dog tired from enough exercise will be calm and relaxed. The amount of exercise needed varies a lot and depends on the dog’s age, breed and personality.
Some dogs need at least 2 vigorous walks a day and playing games as well to be satisfied whereas some dogs will be happy with a couple of shorter walks. All dogs need a minimum of exercise though and enough exercise will do a lot towards getting an over exited dog calm.
Enough mental exercise to stimulate your dog’s mind and make it tired and satisfied.
Dogs need not only physical exercise but also mental exercise to keep them stimulated. Playing games where the dog needs to use his/her head is a lot of fun and a dog who is mentally stimulated will get more tired, calmer and better focused. A dog who gets to use his/her mind frequently will also be easier to train as it will understand better and be able to concentrate on the task ahead. Training, such as Agility is also an excellent way to stimulate your dog mentally as well as physically.
You will find more about the importance of mental stimulation for dogs in this post: What is Mental Stimulation for Dogs?
Should your dog become much too exited from playing games then you can take break and try to get your dog calm down before assuming it again. Some excitement is only natural in circumstances like this but if it gets out of hand it is important to get the dog calm before continuing. This could be called “Negative Reinforcement” since you stop something your dog enjoys because it does not behave the right way. Then when your dog is calm again you can continue to play. This is “Positive Reinforcement”, as you are rewarding your dog with play when it does the right thing.
On this website (it will open in a new tab) you will find a list with 10 fun indoor games that you can play with your dog. Here is the link: 10 simple indoor and fun games you can play with your dog
There is also an online training program designed to challenge your dog mentally by making it play games with gradually increasing difficulty. This is a lot of fun both for you and your dog and it will make your dog smarter, calmer and more focused. I have written review of this program, click on this link to read it: Brain Training For Dogs – A Full Review
Get their nose involved. Scent is very important to dogs and certain smells can sometimes make a dog calm down. Lavender and Vanilla are two examples of scents that have a calming effect on dogs and it works particularly well if your dog associates this smell with a calm moment such as when he/she is in bed. Therefore, you could try to put a scented air freshener near his/her bed. Just make sure that your dog does not suffer from any allergies and if needed, get the advice of a veterinarian.
Keep calm yourself.
A friend of mine who owns a dog once told me: a dog is a reflection of its owner. By that he meant that dogs will copy our moods and behavior. If you stay calm and relaxed then your dog will do the same. Therefore, it is very important to keep calm when dealing with an overexcited dog. If you get exited yourself and start yelling and moving around then your dog will certainly not calm down but become even more exited.
An example of this is when a dog is constantly barking and the owner yells that it should stop. As dogs don’t speak our language it will not understand what you mean when you yell stop it or knock it off. Instead, it will think that you are joining in and barking as well. This will make the dog think that he is doing the right thing and bark even more.
The “calm freeze” method
There is a method I have written about before that can be used to calm an over exited dog. It is very simple and effective. The whole idea about this method is to transfer your “calm energy” to your dog and thus make it relax and calm down. The video below will show you how to do the “calm freeze” and you will also find this method explained on this page.
This video was made by Doggy Don, the Online Dog Trainer. If you would like to know more about him and his dog training program you will find a full review here: The Online Dog Trainer Review
A hyper exited dog is very hard to control, difficult to train and might get you into difficult situations, so to calm a hyper dog you should:
- Encourage and reward calm behavior
- Discourage and ignore your dog when it is too exited
- Make sure your dog gets enough physical exercise
- Make sure your dog gets enough mental exercise
- Keep calm yourself as your dog will follow your example and your calmness will make your dog calmer too.
- Use the “Calm Freeze” method to transfer your “calm energy” to your dog.
I hope you enjoyed this post and that you found it useful. If you have any tips and tricks on how to make a hyper dog calm or any questions, post them below.
All the best,