How to Calm a Hyper Dog

 In Blog

How do you calm a dog down? It’s very easy to hype a dog up and for them to exhibit over the top behaviors. Over excitement and anxiety can look very similar. Below, you will find 7 tried and tested methods you can use to help calm your dog down. It is well known that a healthy, natural diet can have a huge impact on physical and mental health.

How to calm a dog down – Your starting point

If you want to learn how to calm a dog down your ultimate goal should be to help your dog self-manage situations and find a calm, still place within themselves. Dogs feed off our emotions and body language constantly. They are learning all the time we are with them, regardless of whether we think we are teaching our dog or not. They receive information through body language, how something smells, heartbeats and even facial expressions.

In my opinion the most important tools in education and retention of information are the teacher and diet. Be quietly confident, calm, patient and mindful. Be in the moment and focus on the here and now to facilitate learning.

Start with how you’re feeling & where you are

  • Your frame of mind and emotions can help to calm your dog. Your breathing, heart rate and adrenaline levels. Calm and confident is key
  • When learning how to calm a dog down, ensure the area around them is calm 
  • De-sensitize your dog to triggers
  • Always walk them away from their fears. Instinctive flight option for any animal
  • Calming music will be a great help
  • Ensure your dog has enough sleep
  • Feed your dog a well-balanced diet
  • If you say anything, focus on gentle, long vowel sounds, hum, yawn or sigh.
  • To help calm your dog always avert your eye contact. Natural calming signals from dog to dog and also human to human and dog is to drop eye contact and remove intensity.

Natural dog calming products

When dogs are showing signs of stress, anything from salivating excessively, pacing, whimpering, howling, jumping up, tail chasing, and being huddled in a corner, it is worth looking for extra help. Here are a few examples of my favorite dog calming products:

Calming Supplements

Calming supplements can help many an anxious dog during stressful times. These can be particularly useful during firework season and throughout thunderstorms. Travel and Calming Strips are chicken flavored quick dissolving supplements with natural ingredients that help dogs with nervous, anxious, or aggressive behaviors feel calm and comfortable. These calming treats contain 20mg of Tryptophan per strip and L-Theanine that helps stimulate brain waves to promote relaxation with no drowsy effect. Each strip contains Melatonin and Chamomile, helping with hyperactive & aggressive behavior, which act as a relaxer that can help reduce jumping, biting, and barking from dogs that display aggressive or hyperactive tendencies. This Calming Strip supplement may encourage natural anti-anxiety relief for a thunderstorm, fireworks, car rides, or separation anxiety. These treats contain an advanced complex of proven ingredients such as Ashwagandha Root and L-Tryptophan to help minimize outbursts, while Tryptophan reduces scratching, restlessness, paw licking, and striping. All for the affordable low cost, with a price at only $6.99!

How to calm a dog down with music

Studies show that certain types of music can help to calm and relax a dog. Classical music, and especially Mozart, has the right sound waves. For more explanation on this, view the video from Joshua Leeds where he explains how they came up with the idea and how it works. When you listen to the music, you too will get that super calm feeling. Pop it on and see how it helps your pooch. How Reggae music helps to calm dogs down. A lovely piece about a young lad who composed music to help his very stressed poodle

Your dog’s diet may have an effect on behavior

Aside from the actions you take, learning how to calm a dog down includes looking at your dog’s diet. It is well known that diet can have a huge impact on physical and mental health. Overly processed dog food contains high levels of sugar, carbohydrates, preservatives, and artificial coloring. Dogs, like humans, react to additives and sugars. It can make them hyper, unthinking, and reactive. If a dog cannot concentrate, they are less receptive to learning and retaining information efficiently.

How to calm a dog down

1. Give your dog the ability to naturally rest

All the methods below are to help connect your dog to your calmness, in order that they may mirror your calm emotions and feelings. The first most important measure you need to instill is that of natural rest and to log off your movement and triggers around. It is key to provide a solid base from which to start when figuring out how to calm a dog down. Show them they can rest until it is time to involve them in the fun things in life.

A barking dog is hyper alert

In ours and all the other animals too, the most important factor is safety and belonging. Within any species of animal, there will always be a lookout. The one who will alarm the others to threats and lead them to safety. You need to show your dog you have got safety covered and that you also do not need a shadow. A happy dog is one who feels supported rather than the supporter. One who can rest in the knowledge that they are safe. My method to prevent constant following, separation anxiety and also to solve separation anxiety.

2. Calm a dog down by averting eye contact & staying silent

It is amazing what happens when you take your focus off what your dog is doing. No verbal or eye contact reply. If your dog has attention seeking behaviors, look away, read a book or chat with a friend on the phone or even walk out of the room/space completely. When the actor has no audience, the behavior will cease.

When we take the pressure off our dogs (avoiding eye contact and enable them to choose a more appropriate canine behavior) they are able to relax and calm themselves naturally. We just need to give them the opportunity. Patience in key

3. Calm a dog down with a calm touch using your palm

If your dog continually paces around the room place your palm on the side of their body (close to their front legs or ribs). This will help them to calm down, sometimes they just need permission to chill.  Refrain from reaching out to grab your dog, it may make them back off. Instead, look down and touch the floor, this will encourage your dog to come closer, as dogs are naturally inquisitive! You can then place your palm on their sides with ease. Have you also noticed that your dog loves the inside of their back leg touched or massaged? Place the palm of your hand here also and you will see their head droop in calmness. Remember, eye contact and voice is disruptive to create calm and stillness. Hold your friend and be there for them. Human and dog.

4. How to calm a dog down with movement – The calm walk.

If you are home or out and about. Pop your dog on their leash and gently move from side to side away from the trigger of alarm. Do not pressure or drag your dog. If they stop, simply angle the lead down, keep the pressure on and avert eye contact. They will decide to move. At home if they lay down then job done. If they get up again continue and guide towards their rest place. Slight tension on the leash and they will lay down. Keep hold for a few moments then drop the lead to the floor gently. When you are out on a walk, you’ll need to move your dog and so walk in and round which will encourage them to get up and get going again.

When they walk with you, gently and connected, give them calm verbal praise, gentle touch, or both. You will find what works for your individual dog best as you proceed. For some dogs, your voice, touch, and eye contact all at once may be too much. Perhaps limit it to one of these, to begin with. 

5. Gently ‘step in’ towards your dog to calm them down.

When your dog jumps up, gently step in. No eye contact no verbal correction. They will step down. No attention for the behavior and they will modify their approach to a more respectful encounter. Keep going it takes time for some. Dogs jump up when they are over-excited or stressed.

6. You may need to remove yourself from the situation.

If your dog does not get the message when you enter and continues to jump, or mouth etc. and calm walk turns into a tug of war. The best move you can make is to leave the room and shut the door. If your dog darts in front of you through the door, simply shut the door; you are separated. If behavior like this is arising out and about You will need to bring education right back home and into the house and yard and move out slow but sure into the wider world as you and your dog connect and understand each other better.

7. Walk your dog away from their fears.

To calm your dog down, you need to remove them from the triggers of their anxiety. Whether a dog barks or lunges, they are reacting to a trigger, whether in excitement or anxiety. We need to help our dogs exhibit more self-control to avoid undesirable behavior and give them space and ability to choose more appropriate canine behavior. Distance is key when we talk about socializing in the outside world and even in our homes when the mailman or friends visit.

Flee, Freeze, Fiddle about and Fight

Flee, freeze, fiddle/faff about and Fight are what keeps us all safe. However, it is always desirable for humans and dogs to choose the option that keeps them out of harm’s way, only the very brave or terrified will resort to fighting. Distance from new things or triggers will help you and your dog assess from and safe place and then carry on with you day and move away.

Visitors in your home, family or friends

Remember your friends may not be your dog’s friends, they are not family, the ones you live with all the time. To your dog, they are strangers even if they visit now and again. Be respectful of people and dogs alike. When we are respectful of others’ space, they are respectful of ours. No one gets upset and presents with anxious or over the top behavior.

How to calm a dog down on a walk

Walk your dog away from triggers of anxiety before your dog reacts. Help them remain focused on you. Work at home with the above methods and your dog will become more sensible when out and about. Work on a great mental connection with your dog, as this helps them to connect much more with you. Proceed in low stimulus locations and build up to higher stimulus locations as your dog’s connection with you gets stronger. Be prepared to go back a step or two to revise and consolidate learned behaviors.

Why isn’t my dog calm?

If you want to know how to calm your dog down, you need to establish the root cause. Dogs need to feel safe and understood. To truly connect with them on their level, we need to do more and say less. Reactions can be as a result of one or more of the following reasons:

  • Fear
  • Stress
  • Over-stimulated
  • Tired
  • Misunderstood
  • Unwell

Processed food containing high levels of sugar is one reason that your dog may not be calm.

How to calm a dog down with calm canine signals

Dogs talk to each other using many simple and intricate signals. Their communication encompasses the whole body, from nose to tail. We can help our dogs feel less anxious by using a few of these communication techniques to our advantage. Face away from your dog, leaving them with a side-on view of your face. Yawn and take a deep breath followed by relaxed release of air from your lungs. This is similar to the one dogs do when they lay down to chill.

Paws for thought: If you want to know how to calm a dog down naturally, watch how dogs communicate with each other. Observe their body language. Humans communicate using body language more than we know. Dogs can tell when you are not calm, which will perpetuate their anxious or hyper behavior. Keep calm and make great decisions.

Common behaviors of anxious & hyper dogs

Over-stimulated & anxious, jumping up or biting in play

We hear stories of play getting out of hand with dogs all the time. When we play a highly stimulating game for too long, it can become too much to handle for certain personalities and ages. For example, if you play fetch too much, your dog can suddenly go from being happy and playful to a hyper, biting bundle of fluff. This is because it has gone from thoughtful play to feeding the urge to prey or hunt.

Ensure you allow for calm time with your dog too. If your dog is obsessed with a game, play it once a week and find alternative interactive, calmer games to engage their thinking brain as opposed to only their reactionary side. Respectful play between two dogs is a non-contact sport, with intermittent break off time when it seems to get a little heated. Play fair and remain mindful of how your dog is responding to external stimuli.

Barking

Do you have or know a dog that barks at anyone coming home or at any visitor entering or passing by your house? This dog is highly alert to change and possibly concerned about the outcome. They may also be an attention seeker who needs to be involved in any situation, one with no social skills, or lacking patience. How to stop your dogs barking at home and out on walks

Aggressive behaviors, lunging or biting

Some owners say their dog is random and unpredictable in their behavior towards only some people and some dogs. They show aggression or intimidating behaviors such as barking, jumping up and mouthing or lunging towards them. Some will stare and hold themselves still. Other dogs will resort to a bite, or a full-on attack. These behaviors can be triggered by proximity, the shape of a dog, or the scent of that particular dog. There are even dogs who get upset when people wear a hat or sunglasses. Dogs read our faces and if they cannot see them it is a big problem for some. Consider how difficult you find it to talk to someone with very dark shades. It is so much more intimidating for a dog.

We cannot all like everyone and everything we encounter, nor should we. Nor should dogs. We expect too much. Walk away from triggers of fear with whoever you are with, using your dog’s likes and dislikes as a guide. We all instinctively use flight and fight responses to varying degrees, whether it is verbally or physically.

Scared & Anxious Dogs

Whether your dog is scared of fireworks, bins, vans or other dogs, they will exhibit behaviors that tell you subtly something is wrong. When the trigger of your dog’s anxiety is too close for comfort, your dog’s behavior will intensify. Dogs need space, some more than others. Some may fear being alone while others may experience the opposite. Fear may be irrational in our minds, but dogs see life in black and white… in their eyes, it is right, or it is wrong.

When dogs react, we need to be proactive for them to take comfort in the knowledge that we make great decisions, predominantly for safety. If a dog’s anxieties have gone unheard then the intensity increases until your dog is almost uncontrollable with fear. Responses can include manic barking, squealing, lunging, tail chasing, pacing, mounting, licking, mouthing, and barging, to name a few.

How do you know if your dog is happy?

Now you know how to calm a dog down, let’s take a quick look at the essential core of dog behavior. In essence, a happy dog is one that does not react in an excitable manner when their environments change. A calm dog will be able to switch off and relax between activities, such as playtime, walks, enrichment, feeding, and grooming. They will not feel the need to bark every time they see a new person or vehicle on a walk. Neither will they feel the need to leap and jump at you and others. A relaxed dog will feel supple and their skin will easily move over their body when massaged.

Dog’s behavior is talking

Understand that your dog’s behavior is them telling you how they feel. They wear their emotions on their sleeves. If you want to know how to calm a dog down, try to understand what your dog is telling you with their behavior. When we show our dogs they are understood, they feel supported. With this knowledge, they will learn to trust you more and as a result, will become more thoughtful and display more calm behavior. This means less management required from you and more self-control exhibited by your dog, meaning you can spend less time worrying about how to calm a dog down and more time enjoying your time with them.

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