Whether your pup is an overactive Energizer battery on all fours at a mile a minute or just can’t handle those car trips or unexpected visitors, calming him down is an invaluable skill. Keeping or calming your dog has many benefits, such as preventing possible accidents, fear-related behaviors and reducing blood pressure.
When a dog is at full power, he is likely to run into traffic, disobey, or otherwise injure himself. Hyperactivity isn’t just a young dog’s problem; it may continue into adulthood. Some dog breeds are more energetic than others, so keep that in mind if you’re faced with a choice.
The dogs that are anxious or nervous run the risk of fear biting or other dogfights, or just getting that terrible nervous, stress-inducing feeling that none of us enjoy. Anxiety can be something a dog is born with or something that arises due to an event in their life. Either way, learning to calm them down will help them (and you!) feel better.
1. Provide a safe place
Few things feel better for a dog when overwhelmed with excitement or anxiety than a dark, quiet place. It helps eliminate distractions so your dog can focus on the task at hand. It also suppresses those spooky or frightening stimuli to allow heart rates and blood pressure to drop. For chronically anxious or hyperactive dogs, try to keep the same safe place. Don’t change it every time they have to go, otherwise it won’t comfort them. Make it a kennel or a small room that they can access on their own if needed.
2. Train them to settle down and focus
All dogs perform better when they have a job. Sometimes this work can be as simple as listening and focusing on you. You’re also the center of your dog’s universe, so use that to your advantage when trying to calm him down. Anxious dogs and those that are energetic can be trained to calm down in the same way.
- First, when your dog gets upset, give him a verbal cue that both gets his attention and gives him something to do. This signal can be “sit”, “sit” or even “relax”. You just want to make sure you can use it consistently.
- Second, use the word until your dog performs the behavior you want, such as lying down, sitting at your feet, or even just stopping what he’s doing and looking at you. You may need to show them what to do the first few times until they understand.
- Once you have their attention, you can ask them to do other commands, like come. This helps them stop doing what initially upset them or get away from anything that makes them anxious.
Once they are calm and relaxed, reward them.
If your dog is used to being around other dogs and other people, this will go a long way in reducing anxiety and calming hyperactivity. Although you probably think socialization might make your dog more active, it can actually have the opposite effect. If something is part of a dog’s normal schedule, they are generally less likely to get too excited or anxious about it. Going to the dog park will always be a treat, but it’s getting older hat and almost expected.
While most socialization should take place when a dog is young, it’s never too late to bring them out. For your first outings, whether it’s the park or obedience class, make sure you have your dog on a leash so you can easily control the situation. Take it easy so you don’t overwhelm anyone (including yourself!) and assign only appropriate behavior.
4. Calming Supplements
The market is flooded with natural supplements formulated to induce a calming effect on our canine companions. They contain everything from chamomile to CBD. These products vary in effectiveness, so it’s best to speak with your veterinarian first.
CBD the products are derived from hemp and contain phytocannibinoids which have an effect on the endocannabinoid system which serves to support a calm disposition, as well as healthy joints and sleep. CBD products do not contain the hallucinogenic compound THC. the Charlotte’s Web Calming Chews contain phytocannibinoids combined with natural ingredients such as chamomile, valerian root and passion flower extract. These natural substances can help contribute to a calming effect.
If all else fails to calm your dog and you are concerned for his safety or the safety of those around him, talk to your veterinarian about medications that might possibly help. Most of these drugs provide mild to heavy sedation which, rather than decreasing anxiety or energy, just makes them not care as much. These drugs will also usually require a prescription, so again keep this as a last resort option.
If only dogs could do yoga or belly breathing when they need to calm down, but unfortunately these practices tend to get lost when it comes to our pooches. However, there are equally effective measures to try to calm your dog down and help him stay calm as well. Some of them involve training and others involve supplementation or medication.