Dog owners are increasingly complaining about hyperactivity in their pets. They claim that they have ADHD, that they are disobedient and demolish the whole house. It’s worth considering what the cause is – behavioural problems, canine hypersensitivity and hyperactivity syndrome, or maybe your pet is just bored because you’re not giving it enough exercise or doing it in the wrong way?
The right amount of activity
A lot of people call their pet a „demolition dog” or a „madman”, but many of them won’t admit that their walks are limited to short outings of around 15 minutes three times a day – which is far too little!
In this situation, our pet doesn’t have any problems with hyperactivity, but is simply bored and has nowhere and no time to properly discharge its energy. Let’s organise more activity for our four-legged friend, not only physical but also mental.
Long walks in the forest, running, fetching, playing with strings and many other activities must become a habit for you to make a difference.
In time, why not take up dog sports? – Agility, Dog Frisbee, and Flyball are just a few examples from many other disciplines, everyone can find something for themselves. You know that you often don’t want to, you don’t have time or the weather is bad, but you can also do a lot at home! There are lots of fun things to do, especially in winter when you don’t want to leave the house – and don’t forget to exercise too.
Interactive toys, sniffing mats, Kongs, various chew treats or basic commands are all great ways to keep your dog mentally active. You can do sit, and stand-up exercises with your dog even while watching your favourite TV show – during commercial breaks.
Such activities have a good influence on the mind and development of our pets. It teaches him concentration and composure, and this sometimes can tire out, especially those „crazy” ones. Chewing on different chews is great for calming and soothing. Let’s not judge our pets before we give them as much attention and movement as they should get.
Hyperactive dog, behavioural problems or mismatch of characters and lifestyle?
It happens that people, despite long walks, still cannot cope with their dog and only complain that they also have their life, work, and interests and they have to take care of it all the time. Here comes another problem – choosing the right dog.
If you live in a studio flat and you prefer to spend time on the couch or you have activities which you can’t do with a dog, choosing a border collie or German shepherd is not a good idea – in this case, it’s better to choose a small couch potato – but don’t forget that he also needs your attention and time.
You should remember that every dog is different. For some, two walks a day plus a longer one will be enough, while for others this will be far too little.
You need to get to know your dog, establish contact with him, and consider whether you know and meet his needs. Hyperactivity and behavioural problems often stem from a lack of understanding.
Hypersensitivity and hyperactivity syndrome in dogs
However, there are times when our pet suffers from a developmental disorder. These do not come from anywhere – they have their roots in the puppy period. Inadequate sensory stimulation, lack of external reaction inhibition by the mother, and early isolation of the toddler from the bitch and siblings have a big influence on behaviour later on. Especially often such problems occur in dogs from pseudo-breeding kennels, where the toddlers are taken away from their mothers too early and do not have enough stimuli, they are often kept in cages.
In such dogs in a later time, there are a lot of negative symptoms such as :
Aggression – of different degrees and in different situations.
Incessant agitation – the dog is constantly agitated and cannot calm down. Elevated physiological parameters such as heart rate, respiration, and temperature.
Painful biting – usually resulting from not learning to control and play appropriately with his siblings when he was a puppy.
Destruction of objects – even their bedding.
Learning problems – lack of concentration.
Excessive appetite – swallowing food too quickly.
Defecating in the house – this is due to high excitement, and frequent diarrhoea.
Difficult visits to the vet – aggression, lack of composure.
Conflicts – often with other dogs, lack of self-control.
Behavioural disorders – self-harming or repetitive actions may occur e.g. going in circles.
Exploring the world in a very chaotic way – no inhibitory behaviour.
Sleep disorders – reduced resting time.
Treatment is based on good cooperation between a veterinarian, an animal psychologist and, above all, the owner of the pet. Most often it is a combined behavioural and pharmacological therapy. Calming medications often proves to be very helpful, but the most important thing in the whole treatment is proper communication between the owner and the dog. The owner of the pet will also have to work on himself.
When dealing with such a pet, it is important to be calm, not to raise your voice or gesticulate excessively, which makes the dog even more excited. All attempts to calm our four-legged friend should be made in a way that ignores his excitement – shouting and holding him will make him even more excited.
With the problem of excessive and painful biting it will work well to signal the pain, but without making eye contact. Learning new commands, contact with other dogs, and introducing more calming activities. Playing with a sniffing mat, tracking and chewing will be much better than fetching and highly stimulating games, at least in the first phase of treatment. It is also a good idea to introduce concentration exercises, relaxation massages or T-touch techniques to such a dog.
It is also important to remember to meet the basic needs of the animal such as:
A suitable and safe place to sleep
A nutritious diet
A regular lifestyle
Consistency of caregivers
It is important to remember that every case of hypersensitivity and hyperactivity syndrome in a dog is different – symptoms, treatment and progress will be individual. Owners’ cooperation with their pets and well-chosen medication is essential for success.
Whatever the cause of the dog’s excessive behaviour, the most important thing is consistency, understanding and, above all, communication between owner and pet.
We always have to ask ourselves whether we are meeting all the needs of our friends or whether the problems are due to our laziness and lack of awareness of the responsibilities of owning a dog.
It is always advisable to seek advice from a behaviourist and a veterinary surgeon. In the case of hypersensitivity and hyperactivity syndrome, diagnosis is very important.
If you are planning to have a dog, be sure to choose a well-thought-out and responsible breed and a good kennel – remember that pseudo-breeders are not the right place to buy a socialised and healthy puppy that will not have behavioural problems in the future. If you want to adopt a pet from a shelter, you can also find out from the volunteers and staff what its character is like.