How to Ease Over Excitement in Dogs
To be sure, a happy dog is going to be excited, at times. Whether they’re waiting for your car to pull into the driveway or looking forward to a tasty meal, most dogs go into full excitement mode multiple times per day. And the fact is, it’s part of why we love our canine companions! There’s something wholesome and lovable about a dog’s pure joy for life.
At the same time, a hyperactive dog can be something of a handful. Not only can an overly excited dog be difficult to rangle, but they also may put themselves and others at risk of injury as their emotions get the better of them.
In this BreezeGuard article, we’re going to walk through a few different ways to help manage your dog’s excitement. The goal is to give your pup healthy outlets for their hyperactive responses in order to reign in their energy when it really counts.
What happens when dogs get overly excited?
An overly excited dog is easy to spot. After all, they’re probably bouncing off the walls! But what is actually happening in that doggy brain of theirs?
Generally, when a dog is excited, they will enter a state of eustress. This is a positive response to a stimulus, be it a tennis ball, a furry friend, or a handful of treats. And, just like we humans may seek thrills by going on a roller coaster, our dogs enjoy this type of stress response and will seek it out when possible.
But, also like humans, eustress isn’t always a positive experience. When dogs can’t gain access to the very thing that riled them up in the first place, they can feel an immense sense of frustration. This often results in behaviors like whining, barking, jumping or running around, and even in some cases lashing out in aggression. Imagine waiting hours to get on that roller coaster, only to find that the ride will close for the day before you get to the front of the line.
And, while some eustress can be beneficial in promoting focus during training sessions—i.e. enticing Fido to focus with a treat—too much excitement or anticipation can boil over into overstimulation. You might imagine the roller coaster going faster than you anticipated, turning a fun experience into an overwhelming one.
The good news is, once you understand how your dog experiences eustress, the better you can manage it.
What can you do to manage an overly excited dog?
Helping your dog to be less prone to overexcitement will take some regular maintenance on your part. Here are a few things that you can do to help your dog maintain healthy excitement responses:
- Don’t reward overexcitement. Often dog owners will reinforce their dog’s overexcitement through their own actions. And it’s understandable! If your dog whines in the car on the way to the park, the logical response is to raise your voice to tell them to stop. But, by adding another stimulus, you may actually be turning up the volume on their excitement levels. Instead, it’s important when dogs show signs of overexcitement to stop whatever you’re doing until they calm down. That might mean parking the car and sitting in silence until they’re quiet. Once they’ve calmed down, you can give them a treat or praise and keep going.
- Manage your own emotional response. Our doggos rely on body language, pheromones, and many other cues to tune into our moods. And we can use that to help them stay relaxed. If you feel your pup getting overexcited, it can be helpful for you to remain calm and patient.
- Give your pup plenty of exercise. In general, exercise is a wonderful mood stabilizer for dogs. You can help them burn off extra energy that would otherwise transform them into a ball of excitement at the most inconvenient times.
One thing to keep in mind is that an overly excited dog may be especially active in the car on the way to the lake, trailhead or dog park. Keep them from jumping out or injuring themselves by installing BreezeGuard Screens.
- Work on impulse training. Even if you haven’t heard of impulse training, you’ve probably already used it from the time your dog was just a puppy. Learning to sit, stay, and other basic commands all require self-control and discipline. And, the added benefit is that the better your pup is at impulse training, the better they’ll be at controlling themselves when they’re excited.
- Provide opportunities for mental stimulation. In our article, Keep Your Dog’s Mind Sharp with Fun Dog Puzzles, we covered some of the benefits of mental stimulation for pets. Not only are mind games fun for dogs, but they also provide your pup with a controlled eustress experience. This will tire them out mentally and soften their response to outside stimuli. The result? A calmer furry friend!
- Be sure you know the difference between stress and excitement. Unfortunately, we humans aren’t always as good at reading our pup’s emotions as we think; differentiating stress and excitement can be particularly tricky. Because the signs of these two moods are so similar—whining, accelerated heart rate, pacing, and drooling—it’s possible to mistake one for the other. Every pup is different, but you can be on the lookout for common signs of stress: yawning, licking of the lips, staying close to their owner, cowering and other signs of discomfort or distress. If your pup is stressed, you may want to consider socialisation training or other confidence-boosting methods so that they can feel more comfortable in the world.
You’re on your way to life with an appropriately excited doggo!
As we said, an excited dog is a gift! We want our puppers to feel joy and happiness and excitement about the world around them. And with some special care, we can make sure that their excitement isn’t out of control!
For more helpful dog owner tips, take a look at the BreezeGuard blog, where we talk about doggy wellness, training, and more.