Hyperactive Dog – Symptoms, Causes and Treatment
Many dog tutors claim to be sure that they are hyperactive. We often hear phrases like “my dog is never quiet”, “my dog is very agitated”, “my dog does not get tired”. If you are experiencing the same, know that this is not normal behavior and should be treated by a professional!
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Although hyperexcitability is common in puppies, hyperactivity (whether physiological or pathological) is not normal behavior in adult puppies or puppies. This may be a sign that something is not right with the dog. In this article from YourCatCareguide we will talk about the hyperactive dog – symptoms, causes and treatment , for this common (but little spoken) problem.
Types of hyperactivity in the dog
Before we talk about the clinical signs and treatment that should be applied in cases of hyperactivity, it is fundamental to understand that there are two types of hyperactivity in dogs:
- Physiological hyperactivity
- Pathological hyperactivity
It is very important to be clear that physiological hyperactivity can be learned by reinforcing a particular behavior. Another possibility is to be due to disorders related to separation, for example. On the other hand, pathological hyperactivity is caused by a change in dopamine in the brain and requires veterinary treatment. In this case, a canine educator will not be able to solve the problem, you should go to a specialist veterinarian.
Hyperactive Dog – Symptoms
Because there are two different types of hyperactivity, we will explain the signs associated with each of them. Read carefully to try to understand if your dog is suffering from any of them (we remember that the most common is the physiological).
These are some of the most common signs in dogs, but not always the dog with this problem presents all these signs:
- Destructive behavior in the presence and / or absence of the tutor.
- At times of play, the dog gets hyper-excited and sometimes loses control, and may get hurt unintentionally.
- Inhibition of bite and other behaviors is lacking.
- Dog constantly calling the attention of the tutor, crying, howling and destroying things.
- Generalized frustration (they do not meet their goals, usually because tutors do not allow it).
- They respond in a very excited way to any new stimulus.
- They tend to be alert , but they can never concentrate. When you order something like “sit,” the dog hears what you said and looks at you but does not perform the movement, and may even do the opposite of what is requested.
- Slight and short sleep with startles to the smallest noise.
- It does not learn what you teach it, due to the high level of stress, which is aggravated by lack of sleep.
- You may not properly control the sphincters, urinating anywhere, without a reason or reason.
Now that you know some of the possible symptoms of physiological hyperactivity, it is time to compare with the symptoms of pathological hyperactivity:
- Very high activity level.
- Inability to relax, which can affect the puppy’s normal sleep.
- Exaggerated response to different stimuli.
- Difficulty in learning, related to lack of sleep.
- Possible aggressive or reactive behavior before different stimuli.
- Related beats or behaviors.
- Possible stereotypies (repetitive movements without an apparent reason) .
- Elevated heart and respiratory rate.
- Excessive salivation .
- High energy metabolism.
- High body temperature.
- Reduction of urination.
Causes of hyperactivity in dogs
The causes of hyperactivity are specific and different in each case. We explain why this problem arises:
The beginning of this behavior usually arises through learning . The tutors reinforce in a positive way certain attitudes of effusiveness and the dog begins to carry out these behaviors of a more frequent form. Some examples are running around the house, barking when someone rings the doorbell and playing wildly. Tutors are not aware that they are reinforcing a negative attitude until it is too late. When the dog is seeking the attention of the family and this distances it, it also reinforces the attention.
There are different causes for this behavior, such as the separation-related problemsmentioned earlier. If you notice the dog destroying things or behaving that way when you are not at home, separation anxiety may be the cause.
There may be numerous reasons that cause hyperactivity in dogs. Do not forget that hyperactivity in puppies is normal and is not a behavioral problem. Nevertheless, you can always work your relationship with the puppy, rewarding the quiet behaviors that please you.
Now that you already know the causes that cause hyperactivity, it will be fundamental to understand what causes this behavioral problem to have a pathological origin in place of physiological:
Pathological hyperactivity is an infrequent problem that occurs at an early age when the dog is still a puppy. It is mainly caused by a change in the dopaminergic pathways of the limbic system (between the frontal and midbrain cortex). It can also affect the production of serotonin and noradrenaline. Although rare, it can also happen to dogs that take lead.
Diagnosis of hyperactivity
Before starting a treatment, it is necessary to be sure that our puppy suffers from hyperactivity. The veterinarian will probably rule out the physiological hyperactivity using a test with methylphenidate , a type of amphetamine. The administration of this substance can result in a very excited reaction of the dog (which rules out the pathological problem) or in a much calmer way (confirming that it is a pathological problem).
If the test is negative, we are likely to have a physiological problem, which generally affects dogs that have these characteristics (although there may be exceptions):
- Young male puppies
- Puppies of more active breeds ( Dalmatians , terriers ..)
- Lack of animal welfare
- Lack of environmental enrichment and mental stimulation
- Premature weaning, which can lead to learning problems
- Lack of social contact
Treatment of canine hyperactivity
Dogs suffering from pathological hyperactivity need to receive pharmacological treatment that allows their body to function naturally. In a few days a noticeable improvement in behavior can be observed.
If your puppy suffers from physiological hyperactivity you should follow some of the indications we suggest. We do not recommend that you do it on your own, but rather refer a professional such as an ethologist (vet veterinarian specializing in animal behavior) to evaluate your dog’s case in concrete and set the most appropriate treatment for it.
We remind you that to solve this problem of behavior, the whole family at home should collaborate and help the animal. If there is no harmony and agreement among all, it is much harder to get good results and the hyperactive behavior of the dog will persist:
- Completely eliminate punishment , that is, scolding, assaulting or yelling at the dog. An animal suffering from stress has a hard time recovering. Take this point very seriously if you want your dog to improve his behavior.
- Avoid reinforcing excitement by ignoring excitable behaviors. Remember that it is not a question of “pushing the dog away” if it asks for attention. We must ignore him completely.
- On the other hand, you should reinforce the calm and relaxed behaviors you observe in the dog. For example, reinforce when he is quiet on his walk or sunbathing on the terrace.
- Develop a fixed tour routine , for example, 9:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. Dogs need stability and routine on walks is essential for them to improve. You should also prepare a meal routine, always at the same times. This factor prevents excitation by anticipation.
- Basic obedience practice to stimulate your puppy and achieve a better response, both on the street and at home.
- You should ensure that the pet has quality rides, allowing them to smell, relate to other dogs or walk freely (if you have a safe zone where it is allowed).
- Improve the environment around the dog so that it has more mobility or access to what it needs.
- Offer dog toys that promote calm and tranquility (like kong or interactive toys).
- Do exercises that allow it to waste excess energy.
These are the basic rules that you can apply at home. Nevertheless, as we have explained, not all cases will be solved with these councils, and for this reason, it is essential to have a professional, an ethologist, a canine educator or an instructor.
This article is purely informative, in YourCatCareguide.com.br we do not have the capacity to prescribe veterinary treatments nor to make any type of diagnosis. We suggest you bring your pet to the veterinarian in case of any type of condition or malaise.
If you want to read more articles that are duplicated in our section on Other health problems, please click here .