We’ve talked, many times in this blog, about how many unfortunate pets end up in shelters. The number is staggering but we haven’t talked much about WHY.  Why is it that so many pets, many of them first time pets and “gift” pets, end up in shelters?

He’s not bad.  He’s just too full of energy!
Well, here is a reason that is very widespread. That’s the bad news. The good news is that it’s an issue that can be dealt with… and often remedied:  Hyperactivity.

Many dogs are turned in to animal shelters because of behavior problems caused by hyperactivity. Shelters are over flowing with dogs that barked too much, dug up the garden or the irrigation system, chewed everything in sight including the legs of your antique coffee table and the arm of your favorite couch (?!) and generally made a nuisance of themselves.  Are they bad dogs? No.  More than likely, they were simply dogs who had way too much energy and way too few ways to release it… without being annoying or destructive or both.

So, you think you have a hyperactive dog…
What do you do?  Well, the first and most obvious solution is exercise.  We’ve seen it in pre-teenage boys.  You know the scenario; 11 or 12-year old boys who seem to have boundless energy and no way to release except to play knife fight (using real knives) with each other, jumping on the furniture (or each other) and just rough-housing in general.  Well, your furry friend is no different, and the similarities are most obvious when they (dogs, that is) are pre-teens, too.  They’re just youngsters who need to “run it out,” as it were. So… If you want a calm and well-behaved dog, you need to exercise him. A long walk in the morning, 30-60 minutes, and then a shorter walk in the evening after work is ideal. You don’t need to make it too fast-paced; you can let Fido stop and smell the roses. In addition to stretching his legs, all the fascinating smells will stretch his brain, too. Dogs are also like humans in this respect: We all know how tiring it can be to use our brains!

If your dog is unattended during the day because you work, and no one is there to play with him/keep him engaged, consider either 1) hiring a dog walker or 2) taking him to a doggy daycare facility so that he’s doing nothing all day but getting ready to release a whole lot of pent up energy when you get home.

What would Dr. Freud say?
As strange as it may sound, your hyperactive dog may be a bit insecure.  Not to get too Freudian here, but hyperactivity can be the result of insecurity… an insecurity that’s the result, perhaps, of being adopted, of having moved from home to home often, and of having no set routine on which to rely.

Dogs need structure.  Give your dog a daily routine he can rely on, and you’re more likely to see less hyperactive and potentially destructive (and definitely annoying) behavior.  Routines extend beyond eating times, of course, and should include “play date” times and walks, ideally two each day.

Use your Brain… and Make him use his!
As we mentioned earlier, using your brain can be exhausting.  Want an exhausted dog at the end of the day, or at least one that won’t be jumping all over you all evening?  Here’s a great one:  Kibble balls.  Known as many things, ie Kongs and Buster Cubes, a Kibble Ball is a way to combine eating with play time AND exercise. Fill the ball with his favorite food and you pooch will spend endless hours rolling the ball around with his nose and eating the kibble that spills out. It’s like dribbling a soccer ball.  Builds eye/paw coordination and tires him out at the same time.  All while having a darn good time!

It’s all fun and games!
Getting involved in a dog sport like agility, flyball, freestyle or disc dog is a great way to build the bond between you and your dog. It provides physical and mental exercise all at once. Again, doggy daycare is also a way to let him or her use up all that energy AND benefit from socializing with other dogs.

The short of it is this:  Keep your pet engaged — whether it’s a toy, a game, a sport or just a short walk – and you’ll find that he or she is much more secure, calm and relaxed.  Not only will your dog be happy, but so will you.  And that, as we all know, is the real road to happiness in any pet/pet parent relationship.