menu icon

Hyperactivity in Dogs or is it Something Else

Some owners will wonder if their dog has hyperactivity problems based on the constant moving around and not being able to stay still for any length of time. Dogs like this can be hard to live with no matter how much you love them as they take a lot of work. But is hyperactivity a real dog disorder or do you just have a dog full of energy that is perhaps not getting enough physical exercise.

Well it is something that dogs can have but it is not a common condition. While it is a medical condition similar perhaps to ADD in humans having it diagnosed is usually time consuming involving ruling out all other probable and possible causes of the restlessness until all that is left is hyperactivity. This is done mostly because often what owners may think of as a hyperactive dog is in fact something else.


Sometimes for example overactive dogs are mistaken for being hyperactive. Many working breeds and herding breeds are very active dogs and very lively. They need to be physically and mentally stimulated. Even when you give them a long walk they might still want to play a game after because that is their nature. There are also dogs who are not trained properly or at all. This can lead to dogs becoming overactive especially in the adolescent dogs who may not be getting enough exercise and delight in creating mayhem and mischief.

Signs if hyperactivity is not just about having a lot of energy and never being at rest. He may also be anxious even when carrying out regular routines and activities, he acts helpless in certain situations, he has a faster heart rate than normal. He also may have a tendency to work himself to exhaustion not knowing when to stop or perhaps just not being able to stop.

Other Reasons for This Hyperactive Behavior

Below are some common reasons for this behavior other than hyperactivity disorder. Dogs may have one or more of the following problems which add up to feeling like something more like a particular disorder.

1) Inadequate training –

If your dog has not been properly trained with some basic obedience and behavior training or if that training was incomplete or lacking in any way this can lead to out of control actions like pulling, chewing, scratching, barking and jumping. This is not really the dog's fault. As responsible dog owners it is our responsibility to make sure our dog's are properly trained so that they know not to repeat bad habits. Proper training takes your full attention, time, patience and offering rewards and positive reinforcement. It is worth it for the happiness and well being of your dog as well as for yourself. Often we become so busy with work and family and other duties that our dog's training gets neglected and they do not learn some basic good manners.

2) Not enough exercise each day –

Sometimes another result of being overly busy or tired is that we fail to really give our dogs the exercise both physical and mental that they need. Behavioral issues can arise from not getting enough exercise such as restlessness, digging, unable to settle, and so on. Each dog needs something different so if you are not sure what your dog should be getting ask your vet.

3) Seizure disorder –

This is rare but possible. This disorder has symptoms that look like hyperactivity like frantic behavior. However with treatment early on the dog can be clear of these symptoms and behave much better.

4) Suffering from Separation Anxiety –

Another disorder they may have is separation anxiety. This is something that many dogs have and it means they feel stressed and anxious all the time. Their symptoms may appear to be hyperactivity, pacing, panting, repetitive behavior, etc but in fact their issue is with anxiety not hyperactivity.

What to do with a Hyperactive Dog

There are two things to do with a hyperactive dog, one is to take them to a vet to be assessed and the other are some actions you can take at home to alleviate the problem.

Visiting his veterinarian –

If you have observed some signs of what appear to you to be hyperactivity in your dog you should take him to your vet where he can be properly assessed. Take recordings of your dog's behavior at home to show the vet what is happening so that he or she can see the different scenarios regarding each issue your dog is displaying. Sometimes the vet can gather more from video footage than from your description, there may be things you have not noticed or things you have dismissed as not relevant when in fact they are.

The vet will listen to what you have to say, watch the video and will try to rule out other possible causes of the behavior as we have mentioned. He or she will also give your dog a physical exam to check to see if there are any medical problems that may be the cause. If they feel there is a behavioral issue there they may offer you advice for at home, and pass you the number of someone who specializes in dog behavior for their professional evaluation. If it is concluded that hyperactivity is the cause there is medication like Ritalin that can be prescribed for your dog.

At home –

There are a number of things you can do at home that can help including;

Give plenty of exercise every day, some dogs require more than just one outing and there should be a mix of play and walks. In a lot of cases of poor behavior the solution is to get them out and working more.

Mental activity is as important as physical especially for intelligent breeds that like to work. Training, obedience classes, toys that expect your dog to solve a puzzle to get a treat are all good forms of mental stimulation.


Dedicate yourself to spending time on his training, get a specialist to help if you need to and make sure you follow their advice.

Be consistent about everything. Commit to the above three things and stick to that commitment and be consistent too in how you handle your dog when he is misbehaving. With patience and consistency you can have your dog being happy, calm and settled in your home and responding to your commands when you give them.