Some dog breeds are particularly well known for bouncy, energetic behaviour and the inability to pay close attention to anything for more than a few moments. In many cases, this is just as a simple characteristic and an endearing, if sometimes exhausting, part of canine ownership. However, there are some dogs who take the meaning of hyperactivity to a whole new level, and who do actually have the canine equivalent to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, better known as ADHD.
ADHD is a common behavioral disorder amongst humans, but few pet owners realize that their dog may develop the condition too. Unfortunately, some professionals and owners use the term flippantly, and as such it is often misdiagnosed or over-diagnosed.
Generally Hyperactive Dog vs. Dog with a Canine Form of ADHD
All dogs can have periods of hyperactivity, often when they are particularly excited by something such as a game or their owner coming home from being at work all day. However, a dog with ADHD is characterized as being easily distracted, high-energy and highly impulsive the vast majority of the time.
What Causes Canine Hyperactivity?
Like most behavioral disorders, canine hyperactivity is believed to be predominantly a result of the combination of genetics and environmental influences. For this reason, perhaps it is unsurprising that specific breeds of dog are more likely to exhibit these traits than others.
Some breeds that are high-energy and may be more susceptible to developing hyperactivity include:
English Springer Spaniel
Some types of Terrier
One of the biggest contributors to canine hyperactivity is believed to be insufficient physical or mental stimulation. Even the most patient human gets a little stir crazy if they are trapped indoors for long periods or are not given enough opportunities to think and use their brain, so perhaps it makes sense why the same problem applies to our pets. Dogs need a reasonable amount of exercise, and high-energy breeds usually need more than average. Similarly, if their brain isn’t stretched each day, boredom and subsequently bad behaviors may start to develop.
How Do you Calm A Hyperactive Dog?
While there is nothing that you can do about your dog’s genetics, the environment that you provide your furbaby can help to prevent their hyperactivity from taking over and make your home and relationship a little calmer.
Ensure She Gets Plenty of Physical Exercise
Physical exercise is essential for all dogs, and especially for those prone to hyperactivity. A short trip around the block to give her the opportunity to empty her bladder and bowels is simply not sufficient – the more physical activity you can provide the better. Don’t worry if you can’t go at a fast pace, the opportunity to explore will help exercise your dog’s brain as well as her body.
Don’t forget, active games are just as beneficial. Fetch, frisbee and hide and seek will all provide excellent physical and mental stimulation for your furbaby.
Give Her Brain a Workout
In addition to the games you play with her, there are plenty of toys that also require your dog to exercise her brain cells. Puzzle toys such as Kongs and Buster Cubes place the treat or food in the middle, and your canine pal has to manipulate the toys in order to reach it. This is a great way to dispense treats, or if needed, your pet’s entire meal.
Stick to a Routine
Sometimes dogs become hyperactive because they are anxious about a lack of structure in their lives. This is often particularly the case if you have adopted a dog who had no specific routine from their previous owner. However, by developing a daily routine and sticking to it as much as possible, your furbaby knows what to expect and this can help her feel calmer and more relaxed.
Teach and Train
Teaching your pooch to follow basic commands helps build the bond between you and helps her know how she is expected to behave. This can reduce her anxiety and reduce her hyperactivity. Obedience and trick training also gets her brain working, which can help reduce boredom.
If you are concerned that your dog is hyperactive and you aren’t sure how to help her, contact us and arrange to speak with our veterinary team who are full of advice and ready and happy to assist you.