To calm an overly energetic dog, you'll first need to determine the cause. Once you know exactly what the problem is, you can create a plan for treating the issue and go about setting up your home and routines to get your pet to mellow out.
Don't try to guess what your dog's problem is and use home remedies or over-the-counter commercial remedies – your pet might have a specific medical issue that requires professional help.
Understanding the causes of hyperactivity in dogs will help you properly treat the problem and create an environment that's peaceful and happy for your pet.
Diagnose the triggers
If you know exactly what is the trigger cause of an out-of-control pet, you can remove the problem that's causing your dog's behavior and take steps to calm it. If the problem is recurring – even if you know what's setting the dog off – your pet might have a behavior or medical problem that needs professional diagnosis or treatment.
If you can't diagnose a recurring problem, write down when the problem starts to begin each time, what you think is setting the dog off, how long the behavior lasts, and what, if anything, cause the dog to calm down.
Don't dismiss anything that recurs before or after an episode. For example, you might think your dog starts going off because it sees other dogs or animals in your yard. That might be one cause, but your pet might already be wound up because you've turned on the TV, some music, a humidifier, hairdryer, or some other noise-making item.
Your energy can upset a dog. If you have frequent arguments on the phone with a significant other, that can stress your dog.
In addition to writing down what you think is the obvious cause, ask yourself if you did anything else just before your dog started getting wound up, such as feeding it or turning on a noise-making item.
Behaviors to look for
The way your dog is misbehaving can help you, a vet, or an animal behavior trainer determine what might be the cause of the pet's anxiety or extra energy. Common behaviors of hyperactive dogs include speed barking, tail chasing, jumping on and off furniture, jumping on people, chewing on furniture or items in a destructive manner, or getting wound up every time it sees a squirrel, stroller, car, jogger, or other moving object through the window.
If you think the problem is the dog trying to seek more attention from you, ask yourself if you're not spending enough playtime with your pet or not letting it sit next to you while you watch TV or read the paper. If the behavior is infrequent, yet recurring, try ignoring it to avoid rewarding the dog's attention-seeking behavior and encouraging future episodes.
If you've just brought a puppy home, give it time to get used to its new settings. Every piece of furniture or "bong" of a grandfather clock can be a new adventure for a puppy.
Talk to your vet
A vet is not only familiar with common pet medical and behavior issues, but she's also familiar with those issues as they relate to particular breeds, helping a vet narrow down and treat this type of behavior in dogs.
Medical and behavior issues that can contribute to hyperactivity in pets can include hyperthyroidism, allergies, distemper, separation anxiety, and the cognitive dysfunction syndrome that afflicts many dogs as they get into their geriatric years.
Call your vet and let her know you have a behavior problem with your dog. Go over the notes you took to give the vet as much information as possible. You might need to bring the dog in for a checkup to see if there is a medical issue and whether or not it needs medication or a procedure. Your vet might recognize the issue as a behavioral – not medical – problem and recommend that you see a pet behaviorist.
If your vet doesn't feel the issue is too serious, she might give you some advice for calming the dog down, such as more exercise or sleep, or stopping a particular activity.
Address medical issues
If your vet has determined that your pet has a medical issue, she might prescribe medicine. Ask your vet if you need to administer the entire prescription or just use the medication until the dog seems to have calmed down. In many cases, a vet will want you to continue to use the medication until the prescription is empty to make sure it has taken full effect and the dog doesn't relapse.
If the problem is the food you've been feeding the dog, get rid of it so you won't be tempted to use any of it when you run out of food later. Make sure you tell every guest and family member what they can and can't feed your dog, and explain to guests that the dog reacts badly to certain foods.
Provide more exercise
Dogs that sleep too much or too little, or that don't get enough exercise, can become wound up easily, explains pet training website K9 Of Mine. The more your dog runs, the more calories it will burn and energy it will release. If you can't run with your dog, either hire a pet sitter or look for a family member, friend, or neighbor who would be willing to play with your pet, especially while you're at work.
Retired seniors in your neighborhood might love to take your pooch for a daily walk and play tennis ball fetch with him. A responsible teenager might be happy to make $5 or $10 for doing the same, and might be able to rollerblade or jog with the pet.
If you have a treadmill at home, experiment with putting your dog on it at a very slow speed at first, then increasing the speed until you find a good pace the dog enjoys and can handle for at least 15 minutes at a time, or at least 30 minutes per day. Treadmills are safe for dogs, advises Acadia Veterinary Hospital, but make sure you are nearby when the dog is using the treadmill, such as working on your computer or watching TV.
Look for toys your dog can play with indoors and out that might be interactive (to provide mental stimulation) or cause the dog to burn calories. Trying to tug a rag doll from a pet can be a fun owner-pet experience, but if it gets too competitive, it can lead to aggression in your dog. Avoid pets lasers that throw dots on walls and furniture. Lasers stress dogs out because they can't catch the dots and, as hunters, they get no closure, according to the American Kennel Club.
Create routines for the dog
Dogs love routines. Moving a water bowl, changing food, or rearranging furniture around the house can stress pets. Try to create a consistent schedule for letting your dog out, feeding, playing indoors, naps, and going to bed at night.
Place your dog's cage or bed in an area and leave it there. Don't make your pet's bed, crate, water, or food bowl part of your redecorating. Look for things that might annoy the dog while it's sleeping, like a nearby air vent or a ticking clock. If you use a remedy like a white noise CD (such as a gentle rainstorm or waves on the beach) that plays while your dog is sleeping, remember that your dog might have trouble sleeping when the CD isn't available.