How to calm a hyper dog

How to calm a hyper dogDoes 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

Summary

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,

Jojo

Comments 24

  • Wow, finally solution to dog being hyper active. Lately i have just realized by dog have been quite restless and it bothers me alot seeing her barking and running about. I have often wondered why its like this and and what I could do about it. Coming across this post have given me a better understanding of the situation and I would love to tire her out and use the process for my own regular work out. Thank you.

    • You are welcome. Bringing your dog with you when exercising is a great idea, maybe a run and then add some play afterwards, it will go a long way to get your dog calmer once you get her home.

      All the best,

      Jojo

  • Hello Jojo, thanks for sharing this amazing post. There are so many cases where we notices some funny activities by our let and would have no idea what the problem could be. Some times it could be a serious issue that can affect the health of these pets, and that’s why I always advise we make proper findings on common issues with our pets.
    Looking at calming an hyper dog, I have noticed these symptoms in my dog and what often help calm her down is playing slow songs while I rub her head slowly. However these suggested means are some I’ll love to try out. Nice being here.

    • Music is one thing I did not think of but I am sure it works pretty well. Music (soft and slow) does have a calming effect on humans so I am not surprised it works on dogs as well. Also if it is calm all around, for example if you are sitting in the sofa  and playing soft music then the dog will associate the music with being calm.

      Thank you for your input.

      Jojo

  • Hello!
    After reading your article, a dog came to my head that I recently picked up from the street for pity. She is a very active dog and eats very quickly, I would say desperate. 

    Today and after several weeks I have managed to reassure her a lot in her meals. It cost me a lot trying to calm her down, just not stimulating her at every meal. Everything you explain in your article is very true, I can affirm it … thank you very much!

    • Hi there, you seem to have done a really good job with your dog and it is really nice to hear from someone who has successfully used the methods I mentioned in this post. Dogs picked up in the street can have all kinds of issues and the fact that she ate soo quickly propably has to do with the fact that on the street you need to get the food before somebody else.

      Well done and thank you very much for your input.

      I wish you and your dog all the best.

      Kindest regards,

      Jojo

  • I have two dogs, both boys, they are really amazing and Friendly, but sometimes they get over excited especially Jack. Thanks to sharing this informative and educative article, it’ll help me control dogs and make them calm rather than hyper. I truly agree to the fact that rewarding a dog is the best way to train it, very effective when you praise him for doing what you want and you ignore him when he does otherwise. I’ll share this article to my friends and I’m sure its gonna be of great help. 

    • Try these methods out and I am pretty sure you will be able to solve your dog’s over exitement.

      Good luck and all the best,

      Jojo

  • Wow… I cannot get enough of your site. I have shared it with several of my dog-owning friends and family. I can relate to this article and have been doing it all wrong. I am going to put into play these reinforcers and also loving the taking dog for walks how-to posts. I cannot take her anywhere. Thank you for helping us find harmony with our canines. 

     Melissa

    • Thank you,

      dog training is not complicated but with like with all things you have to know how to do it. In order to train a dog well, we need to understand how dogs think and how they function. Once you have this knowledge dog training will be easy. If you have any questions or if I can of any help, feel free to contact me anytime. I wish you the best of luck.

      Jojo

  • Fantastic article.  We have a German Shepard and she acts exactly as you stated when we come home of when she hasn’t seen someone in a long time.  She just goes nuts, very excited to the point where we have to work to calm her down.  Now I know how to deal with it, thanks to your article.  We’ll just ignore her until she calms down and learns we will no longer be putting up with her wild behavior. 

    Sometimes I think that the dog has been training us!  We treat her like another member of the family and I think we’ve spoiled her for sure.  While some of her behavior is just fine, there are some things that we need to change.  I was thinking of hiring a trainer for a short period to help us with her barking.  She guards our property like a tank!  She bards way to much when people come to the door.  I’m not really sure what got her started but we’ll need to correct that soon.  

    I’ve bookmarked your site for future reference.  I watched one of your video’s on how to stop pulling on the leash. 

    • Hi,

      there seems to be a few different issues to work with on your dog. You say that it sometimes seems like your dog has trained you and that you have treated her like any other member of the family. The thing is that even if you do consider your dog a member of the family (nothing wrong with that most dogowners do) you and every other member (human members) of the family should be above your dog.

      This means your dog needs to see you as the packleader. For a dog it is very important who leads the pack and you and your family should all be above her in the ranking. Once you have established yourself as the packleader, training will be easy. If your dog do not see as a the packleader, she will take on that role herself and she will consider herself the leader and it will be difficult to train and handle her.

      The fact that she is barking like crazy when people approach your home is an example of this. In the wild the packleader decides what should be consider a danger and if the leader considers the stranger harmless he will remain calm and the other members of the pack will follow him/her. The leader shows the others how to act. So when strangers approach your home and you stay relaxed and calm your dog will follow your example and calm down as well.

      If you have a really good dog trainer nearby and you can afford the cost then by all means consider using his/her services to solve the issues with your dog.

      Otherwise I can really recommend The Online Dog Trainer. The Online Dog Trainer is dog training program where you learn dog training by watching a professional dog trainer work with clients dogs. Then you apply what you learn to your own dog. There is support to had via a forum, skype and mail should you need any assistance. It is cheap effective and easy to use. If  you want to learn more about this program you can find my Review of the Online Dog Trainer Here.

      I wish you the best of luck and if I can be of any help, feel free to contact me anytime.

      All the best,

      Jojo

  • oh the happy moment when they come greeting you and then goes out of proportion with loud barking… I’m so uncomfortable because of my neighbors and at the same time happy that they are excited to see me. I cannot control him and he just goes running around while I’m trying to stop him. I think this has became a routine and sort of play for him. I tried to act cold and bossy but he kept jumping around and make loud barking regardless.
    What should I do now?
    he is a  terrier BTW. which is suppose to be calm actually but this guy is just hyper :))

    • Hi,

      this really is a common problem and many dogowners struggle with this. Acting “bossy” is not going to help because you are still giving your dog attention even if you are talking with a loud and angry voice. The thing is to ignore him completely when he acts like that. Say nothing, don’t touch him and no eye contact. Once he has calmed down, call him over and give him plenty of attention and affection. Doing this will show him that being gets rewarded while acting exiting gets him ignored.

      I wish you luck.

      Cheers,

      Jojo

  • Hyper dogs can be pretty uncontrollable I have to agree here. I have seen how most times, it really is so hard to maintain such behaviour and they take it out when you go for a walk and it becomes so awkward. Your tips are really good and having watched that video, I think I know how to calm my dog down when he gets hyper. Thanks again

    • You are welcome.

      A hyper exited dog is very hard to control and handle and hardly anything can be done until you have managed to get it calm. So if you are going on a walk and your dog is hyper exited before going out then you should just stop by the door and wait until your dog gets calm before going outside. Your dog will learn that when he/she is calm good things happen, when he/she is over exited… nothing happens. You will see that the walk will be far easier and more comfortable if you start walking when your dog is calm.

      Cheers,

      Jojo

  • Thanks Jojo. Sometimes I forget that the dog has a mind and I can work with that mind to get him to just calm down. Man pet has times when he just jumps all over the place and tears up my plants and he does take a good while to calm down. I am going to take you advice of not indulging him. Also I am glad to know that I can make him( and me) benefit from my lavender oil and I am going to use it. Good information !

    • Hi and than you for your comments.

      A dog sure has a mind which can be developed just like us humans. Dogs are highly intelligent creatures and benefits a lot if they regularly get to use their heads. This, in combination with enough physical exercise is enough to get most dogs calm. Remember to reward your dog when it is calm and obeys and ignore it when it gets too exited. If he/she is tearing up your plants put him/her in “time out” for a few minutes it usually works.

      Feel free to contact me if I can be of any help.

      Cheers,

      Jojo

  • Hi JoJo. What a great blog on dog training. I see so many people struggling with their dogs everyday. I always tell my wife that the dogs are out taking their owners for a walk. I was brought up on a farm with working dogs. All these dogs were expertly trained by my father and I can remember him telling us to reward good behavior and ignore bad. Thanks to him , the dogs I have been fortunate enough to share my life with have all been well trained, quiet and fun to be with. Your training reminded me so much of the things he would tell us that it brought back a lot of memories. I

    I think your article should be mandatory for all people intending to own a dog, because it’s my belief that sometimes a dogs worst enemy is it’s owner. All the best. Jim

    • Hi Jim and thank you soo much for your input. You are completely right. A lot of people just don’t know how to train a dog and that is why they struggle. Without knowing how dogs think and function you can not get them properly trained. I think that everyone who intends to own a dog should learn the basics of dog training and if they run into problems get help from someone who has the knowledge needed. Dogs need to be controlled because it is not only the owners who suffers when dogs are not properly trained but the surroundings as well. Uncontrolled dogs can be scary to many people.

      Cheers,

      Jojo

  • Only one of my canes or rottweilers (cane corsos) have been hyperactive but in this specific case getting it to calm down or tire out by doing physical exercises enough. There are lots of good information in your article. It is weird or almost ridiculous how some dog owners realize the behavior issues on some level but encourages the dog to continue doing something by rewarding it. Thanks for sharing this. -Kind regards Jesse 

    • Thank you, you are soo right. People don’t know how dogs function so they don’t understand that by giving lots of attention to an over exited dog they encourage that behavior. People often think that caresses and attention will make the dog calm down while it is quite the contrary.

      Kindest regards,

      Jojo

  • Hi! Oh, one of the pics here really made me laugh because it looks like a face my dog usually makes when he’s hyperactive. But you don’t know how useful these tips you have mentioned have been for me. Specially the one about keeping ourselves calm (because a dog is the reflection of it’s owner). Thanks a lot!

    • You are welcome,

      Keeping calm is very important otherwise your dog might think that being exited is the right state of mind and this will “fire them up” even more and they will get even more exited.

      All the best,

      Jojo

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