How to Calm a Hyperactive Puppy
Ah, the puppy—cute and irresistible as can be but contains the power of a nuclear explosion. When I first got my Siberian Husky puppy, she was dashing all over the place like a bullet. It was difficult to keep up with her, much less get her to stop her impersonation of Ricochet Rabbit.
Puppies are curious, excited, and full of vim. The world is their oyster and they will chew, bite, and taste everything they can get their mouth on—even you! Puppies do not have opposable thumbs, so they use their mouths to manipulate and examine all the objects around them.
Mouthing is normal puppy behavior. It is up to us to redirect our puppy's hyper energy and teach them what is appropriate and not-appropriate to mouth on.
Hyper Puppy Tip 1: Routine and Structure
One of the best ways to curb your puppy's hyper behavior is to set up a strict routine right from the start.
When I got my first puppy, I did not think it was necessary to set up a schedule. Both puppy and I did not have day jobs, so I figured it was unnecessary to constrain our freedoms by setting time-limits and deadlines on everything. However, I quickly realized that I was in error.
Set a Fixed Schedule
A fixed schedule will let the puppy know when it is time to eat, time to walk, time to sleep, time to potty, and time to play. When it is time to sleep, I usually put a puppy in a crate where he feels safe and protected, similar to a den.
This will limit the puppy's hyper behavior to certain times in the day, for example during play time and to a lesser degree during walks. These times will become good outlets for his hyper energy. Dogs are crepuscular which means that they are most active during dawn and dusk so try to set up play times during those most hyper periods.
In this way, the puppy knows exactly what is expected of him, which will help lessen his stress. In addition, you will get to enjoy some moments of peace that is free from puppy hyperactivity.
A fixed schedule will also help with potty training and puppy obedience.
Did You Know?
Without routine and structure, a puppy can become stressed, hyper, and unhappy.
As a general rule, the longest time you should keep your puppy in a crate is:
- (Age of dog in months + 1) hours
For example, an 8-week old puppy can be put in a crate for a maximum of:
- (2 months old + 1) = 3 hours
This is just a general guideline for the maximum crate time. Most puppies need to go outside more frequently than that for exercise and potty training.
Hyper Puppy Tip 2: Physical and Mental Exercise
Puppies have a lot of hyper energy and are curious about many things. It is important to provide them with positive outlets for their active bodies and inquisitive minds. If they do not have such outlets, they will figure out their own activities. This will likely result in property damage, puppy damage, shouting, tears, and possibly a visit to the furniture store or the vet.
There are a variety of games you can play with your puppy that will help to positively release his hyper energy.
Some fun physical activities:
- Flirt pole
- Hide and seek
- Dog agility
- Dog sports
Some fun mental activities:
- Obedience training
- Interactive dog toys (My dogs especially love working on food toys)
Some fun physical and mental activities:
- Daily neighborhood walks
- Walks in the park
- Supervised play sessions with other friendly and healthy puppies
Make sure your puppy has had all of his shots before going on walks where he may come in contact with dog poop or pee. In puppy play sessions, make sure all puppies have had their shots.
Hyper Puppy Tip 3: Patience and Consistency
It is easy to lose patience with a hyper puppy that has a very short attention span. I lost my temper many times with my first puppy and started shouting at him.
However, I soon realized that this only made him more hyper. Here are some ways to practice patience and consistency:
- Anger, frustration, shouting, banging, and hitting will only inject more energy into an already intense situation. This will cause the puppy to get even more agitated and even more hyper.
- To calm a puppy's hyper energy, we must stay calm. If you feel yourself getting angry, take a break from puppy and ask someone to stand in for you. If there is no one around, put puppy temporarily in his crate or on a tie-down and take a short break to collect yourself.
- Always be consistent with the puppy so that he will know what to expect from you. It is important to set up some house rules and stick to it. Do not let your puppy come onto the couch one day and scold him for doing the same thing the next day.
- Follow the NILIF (Nothing in Life is Free) program and make your puppy work for all of his food, toys, and resources.
- If you stay calm and consistent, your puppy will learn from you and also become more calm and consistent.
Do you have an inner puppy?
Find Your Inner Puppy
Last but not least, remember to have fun with your puppy!
It is good and healthy to occasionally give in to our inner puppy. Part of the joy of having a puppy is so that we can participate in his silly games and share in his passion for living life.
A puppy will make you laugh, cry, sing, howl, and do a gig. Enjoy your puppy.
An inordinate passion for pleasure is the secret of remaining young.— Oscar Wilde