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Calming Down Easily Excitable Dogs: Expert Tips for High Energy Breeds

Some dogs never seem to ‘switch off’ and are defined as easily excitable. Here are some tricks that can be taken for those who seem more obsessive-compulsive than others.

Provide plenty of exercise and mental stimulation. A tired dog is a good dog!

Calming down hyper dogs. Anyone with experience with dogs will know that while some are pretty relaxed and accommodating, others are the opposite. From the moment they wake up until they go to bed, their ‘switch’ never seems to go off. They have difficulty relaxing, concentrating, or standing still for just a few minutes during a walk.

Abnormal behaviour in easily excitable dogs

These dogs are commonly seen barking, whining, pawing and digging the ground when their owner stops to talk to someone for a moment. They cannot bear to sit still; they must always be on the move as if they had some attention deficit disorder. This behaviour is very similar to the one found in humans called Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

The characteristic feature of this disorder is the poor, or completely absent, ability to maintain attention and vivaciousness and impulsiveness not appropriate to the subject’s age, which makes normal body functions and development more difficult.

More susceptible breeds

Dogs like these usually have many obsessive-compulsive behaviours or rituals that they indulge in regularly, such as digging, chewing, chasing things, other animals or humans, etc. A distinction must, however, be made between those with compulsive behaviour, which is exclusively behavioural, and those with deeper motivations or roots, which can also be traced back to a health problem in the animal.

It takes time and training to help an excitable dog learn to calm down.
Stay calm yourself. Dogs are good at reading our emotions, so if you are feeling excited or stressed, your dog will likely pick up on that and become more excited.

The potentially most excitable breeds are Border collies, Spaniels and many Terriers. Species, therefore, have been selected to have high levels of energy, reactivity and a strong inclination to repeat the same ‘task’, or behavioural sequence, over and over again for their work tasks. Therefore, many owners of these dogs find themselves in great difficulty managing them and often feel exhausted by their Fido’s behaviour.

How to behave

The greater the sensory provocation you load on an already highly excited dog, the more likely you are to increase agitation or reactivity. So yelling, yanking, and touching the dog only fuels the animal’s excited behaviour. Alternatively, some owners try to tire their dogs out with repetitive fetch games, which do nothing but raise the adrenalin level, so the dog will take longer to relax, thus achieving the opposite effect.

It is much better to recognise that the heart of the problem, for such dogs, is their struggle to maintain and sustain as healthy a state of mental equilibrium as possible. Ideally, it is preferable to work on calm positions to make them more desirable than to propose continuous reactive activities.

Capturing attention

One of the most common problems that all owners have with easily excitable dogs is getting and holding their attention for a significant period longer than a few seconds. This makes it difficult for the animal to register and respond to training. However, one of the main reasons why dogs ignore their owners is that no one has taught them this since they were puppies.

Owners may not realise that maintaining focus and attention on them has to be constantly taught to dogs, from when they are small until adulthood. Often, those considered more excitable only require much more daily exercise or mental stimulation to keep them in a healthier psychological state.

Sources of stress for easily excitable dogs

Different forms of everyday stress can lead dogs to be more vocal, reactive and hyperactive. If, for example, a tranquil dog at home becomes “Mr Hide” as soon as he is outside, his reactive external behaviour is likely due to an underlying form of anxiety. So, it is good to remember that one cannot lower the subject’s reactivity until one discovers the stimuli that create stress or pressure in the dog. That is why a careful analysis of the situation must be made.

Acting at the right time

To possess a calmer dog, we must first have an image of what the dog looks like in its most favourable or least excited state. We think of the dog’s mind as a thermometer, where blue is the calmest state, slowly rising to red, the most excited state.

The most excited or aggressive mental states in dogs always occur when the dog’s mind is in the ‘red’ zone. It often happens that, inadvertently, the owner reinforces negative behaviour because the animal is in the most aroused state.

It is important to remember that all dogs are different, and what works for one dog may not work for another.
Use positive reinforcement. This will help them learn that calm behaviour is what you want.

Practical exercise

To begin with, it is good to start with an environment in which we know the dog is calmer (hypothetically inside the house), and here we begin to teach him “look at me” or a simple “sit”. Using a treat held between our fingers (thumb and forefinger), let the dog sniff it and then bring it under our chin. As soon as the dog looks at us, we add the command “look at me” and immediately press the dog.

After the first three successful attempts, it is time to ask the dog for more seconds of his attention towards us. So, again, giving the command “look at me” instead of rewarding immediately, we start counting to 2 before releasing the reward.

Then we count up to 3, then up to 4, and slowly try to increase the duration of their attention towards us one second at a time before releasing the food. This exercise serves precisely to teach the dog to focus on us for a more extended period, and at the same time, we work on a position of calmness; in practice, we ask Fido to be attentive to us and still for several seconds.

What to avoid with highly excitable dogs

To keep highly excitable dogs in the blue zone, it is also best to keep them in their quiet area, away from all the primary sensory input created by home life in terms of loud music, people talking loudly or becoming more energetic.

It is also advisable to avoid overly vigorous games, such as tugs and pulls and continuous ball fetches, as they tend to excite the dog even more. Instead, doing activities such as scent searches serves to concentrate and mentally tire the dog by using something they naturally have at their disposal, namely their sense of smell.

Through play, you can entertain your dog and find lots of fun games on ETSY made entirely by hand for your four-legged friend.

Over time, and by slightly altering how they deal with easily excitable dogs, the owner will see their ‘Mr Hide’ become ‘Dr Jackill’. If you want to improve your dog, contact a qualified dog trainer.

Thank you for reading the article to the end. Your reading contribution was significant to us.

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The "Frenchie Breed" website is a blog aimed at dog owners. We regularly publish articles about our four-legged furry friends. Among the contents of our blog, you will find ample space on the latest news in the sector, with information and in-depth analysis dedicated to the world of dogs in all its forms, the latest trends and news of the moment, curious facts, events devoted to dogs, product reviews, as well as an intense activity of information regarding the health and well-being of pets.

Please Note: The articles in the 'Frenchie Breed Blog' are for information purposes only; nothing published can or should be construed as an attempt to offer professional advice or consultation with a physician, veterinary surgeon or another health professional.

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Written by Frenchie Breed

The "Frenchie Breed" website is a blog aimed at dog owners. We regularly publish articles about our four-legged furry friends. Among the contents of our blog, you will find ample space on the latest news in the sector, with information and in-depth analysis dedicated to the world of dogs in all its forms, the latest trends and news of the moment, curious facts, events devoted to dogs, product reviews, as well as an intense activity of information regarding the health and well-being of pets.

Please Note: The articles in the 'Frenchie Breed Blog' are for information purposes only; nothing published can or should be construed as an attempt to offer professional advice or consultation with a physician, veterinary surgeon or another health professional.

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