How to Calm a Hyperactive Puppy
Puppies become hyperactive for plenty of reasons, but in many cases the behavior is related to a lack of adequate physical or mental stimulation. Providing outlets for pent-up energy often effectively calms your puppy. Other tricks may help, as well. If you're unable to easily manage your dog's excessive energy or stress, consult your vet or a professional behaviorist.
Ensure that your puppy gets lots of exercise. She'll be more calm if she doesn't have pent-up energy, so let her burn it off and tucker herself out. In many cases this is all it takes to make a young dog calmer. Take your puppy for leashed walks in a variety of places and free runs at the dog park, play fetch and tug-of-war, hide treats around the house for her to sniff out, hide from her and let her find you, and incorporate other fun ways to get her moving in your daily routine. Supply your puppy with toys inside and out, too, to give her sources of physical and mental stimulation, preventing boredom that leads to stress or hyperactivity.
One hindrance to calming your puppy is inadvertently reinforcing her hyperactive behavior. Her running, jumping, barking, whining, nipping and other behaviors are intended to get your attention. When you pay attention to your pet when she acts like that, you reinforce that the behavior you'd like to stop. This is true even if you're scolding her, because negative attention is still attention. Don't talk to, play with, make eye contact with, yell at, punish or otherwise pay any attention to your puppy when she's not acting calm. If possible, leave the room immediately, without any fuss, and close yourself in another room for a little while.
Your puppy's keen sense of smell is essential to her interaction with the world. Aromatherapy can have a powerful calming effect on your canine companion. Consult your vet or a reputable veterinary herbalist for instructions on how to safely and effectively use essential oils for puppy aromatherapy. Lavender, for instance, works well for calming many individual dogs, so it's a good scent to try first. Chamomile is famous for its soothing properties for humans, and it can have the same effect on your puppy. Aromatherapy with peppermint may be worth a try.
A stressed puppy is not a calm puppy. Isolation can be stressful. Don't leave your puppy home alone, locked away or tied up outside by herself for hours at a time. Crate-training can help reduce stress, but it can create stress if you rely on it too much. Crate-training is a process; generally, you'll start placing puppies 8 to 10 weeks old in a suitable and furnished crate for up to 60 minutes daily, puppies 11 to 14 weeks old for one to three hours, puppies 15 to 16 weeks up to four hours and older dogs for a maximum of five hours daily, not counting nighttime sleeping. Make sure other pets and young children don't harass or play inappropriately with your puppy. Educate yourself on proper training techniques -- which don't include yelling, punishment and other negative consequences -- to ensure you aren't putting undue stress on your puppy while trying to mold her behavior.
By Jon Mohrman
About the Author
Jon Mohrman has been a writer and editor for more than seven years. He specializes in food, travel and health topics. He attended the University of Pittsburgh for English literature and San Francisco.