The hyperactive dog - Causes, symptoms and treatment

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There are many owners who claim that their dogs are hyperactive. We often hear phrases like "my dog ​​does not stop ", "my dog ​​never gets tired " or "my dog ​​does not relax ". If the same thing happens to you, you should know that this is not normal behavior and that it must be in the hands of a professional.

Although hyperexcitability is common in puppies, hyperactivity (either physiological or pathological) is not a normal behavior in adult dogs or puppies. This can be a warning sign to homeowners that something is wrong. In this AnimalWised article we will talk about The hyperactive dog - causes, symptoms and treatment for this common (but little treated) disease.

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  1. Types of hyperactivity in dogs
  2. Symptoms of hyperactivity in dogs
  3. Causes of hyperactivity in dogs
  4. Diagnosis of hyperactivity
  5. Treatment of hyperactivity in dogs

Types of hyperactivity in dogs

Before talking about the symptoms or the treatment that we should apply in cases of hyperactivity, it will be essential to understand that there are two types of hyperactivity in dogs:

  • Physiological hyperactivity
  • Pathological hyperactivity (hyperkinesis)

It is very important to be clear that physiological hyperactivity It can occur through learning (reinforcement of one / s behavior / s) or due to disorders related to separation, for example. Nevertheless, hyperkinesis (due to pathological causes) is caused by an alteration of the dopamine pathways in the dog's brain, for which veterinary treatment will be required. For that reason, hyperkinesis will not be solved with behavioral guidelines that a canine educator can offer, we must go to the specialist.

Symptoms of hyperactivity in dogs

Due to the fact that there are two types of hyperactivity, we will explain the symptoms of each of them separately, take note of both to know if your dog may be suffering from any of them, however, we will remember that the physiological one is the most common.

Physiological hyperactivity

Next we will show you the most common symptoms in dogs, remember that you do not have to experience all of those mentioned below:

  • Destructive behavior in the presence and / or absence of the owner.
  • In moments of play they are hyper-excited and have no control, they can even do harm without wanting to.
  • Lack of inhibition of biting and other behaviors.
  • Demands for attention constant towards the owner, including crying, whimpering and yelling or destructive behavior.
  • Widespread frustration (they fail to meet many of their goals, usually due to the owner trying to avoid it).
  • Responds in an excitable way to any stimulus out of the ordinary for him.
  • They tend to have an alert attitude, but he never manages to concentrate. When an order such as "sit down " is given, look at the issuer but cannot incorporate the movement, generally doing the opposite of what was ordered..
  • Light and brief sleep with startles at the slightest noise.
  • Overreacts to the slightest change that occurs.
  • Does not learn what you are taught due to your high level of stress, which is further aggravated by lack of sleep.
  • He may not properly control the sphincters, urinating anywhere, without a reason or reason consistent with his canine habits, although this symptom does not always occur.

Pathological hyperactivity - Hyperkinesis

Now that you know the symptoms of physiological hyperactivity, it is time to compare them with the symptoms of pathological hyperactivity:

  • Very high activity level.
  • Inability to relax, which can affect the dog's normal sleep.
  • Exaggerated response to different stimuli.
  • Learning disability, once again related to lack of sleep.
  • Possible aggressive or reactive attitude before different stimuli.
  • Appearance of barking or related behaviors.
  • Possible appearance of stereotypes (repetitive movements with no apparent purpose).
  • Elevated heart and respiratory rate.
  • Excessive salivation.
  • High energy metabolism.
  • High body temperature.
  • Reduction in urination.

Causes of hyperactivity in dogs

The causes of hyperactivity are unique in each case, below we explain why it can occur:

Physiological hyperactivity

The onset of this behavior generally occurs by learning. The owners positively reinforce effusive attitudes in the dog, which begins to show them constantly, for example, running around the house, getting excited when someone rings the bell or playing uncontrollably. Owners are unaware that they are reinforcing a negative attitude until it is too late. Then, when the dog seeks the attention of his family, it rejects him, also reinforcing his attention..

There are also several causes that can cause this behavior problem, such as the aforementioned disorders related to the separation. If we observe that our dog destroys or acts in this way when we leave home, we may have found the cause of the problem.

Even so, there can be infinite reasons that cause hyperactivity in dogs, but do not forget that "hyperactivity " in puppies it is something normal and it is not a behavior problem, however we can always work with it to relax or reward quiet behaviors that we like.

Pathological hyperactivity - Hyperkinesis

Now that you know the causes of hyperactivity, it will be essential to understand what causes this behavior problem to have a pathological rather than a physiological origin:

Hyperkinesis is a rare disorder and occurs from the early stages, when the dog is still a puppy. It is mainly due to a disturbance of dopaminergic nerve pathways of the limbic system (between the midbrain and the frontal cortex). It can also affect serotonin and norepinephrine. Finally, add that it can occur in dogs that have ingested lead, although it is rare..

Diagnosis of hyperactivity

Before starting a treatment, it will be essential to ensure that our dog suffers from hyperactivity. It is highly advisable to first rule out hyperkinesis using a methylphenidate test, a type of amphetamine. Before the application of this substance, the dog can react in an excitable way (in which case hyperkinesis is ruled out) or in a much calmer way (thus confirming that it is a pathological problem).

If the methylphenidate test is negative, we are probably facing a physiological problem, which generally affects dogs with these characteristics (although there may be exceptions):

  • Young male dogs
  • Dogs of active breeds (Dalmatians, Terriers ...)
  • Lack of animal welfare
  • Lack of environmental enrichment and mental stimulation
  • Weaning prematurely, which implies a lack of learning
  • Lack of social contact

Treatment of hyperactivity in dogs

The suffering dogs hyperkinesis they will need to receive a Pharmacotherapy that allows your body to function normally. In a few days a noticeable improvement in the dog's behavior will be observed.

However, if our dog suffers physiological hyperactivity You must follow some of the guidelines that we explain below. Of course, we do not recommend applying them yourself, but go to a professional who can evaluate your specific case..

Remember that to solve this behavior problem the whole family must collaborate to move the animal forward since, if not, we will not achieve good results, but a return to the hyperactive behavior of the dog:

  • Totally eliminate positive punishment, that is, scolding, assaulting or yelling at him. A dog that is constantly under stress cannot recover, take this point very seriously if you want your dog to improve his behavior.
  • Avoid reinforcing arousal ignoring excitable behaviors. Remember that it is not about "keeping the dog away " if it demands our attention, we must ignore it completely.
  • On the other hand, we will reinforce the calm and relaxed behaviors that we observe in the dog, such as being in a quiet bed or sunbathing on the terrace.
  • Create a routine Fixed rides, for example, at 9:00 a.m., 3:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. Dogs need stability and the walking routine is essential for them to improve. We will also develop a meal routine, which will always be at the same times. This factor prevents anticipatory excitement (knowing that something is happening).
  • Practice basic obedience to stimulate your dog and achieve a better response, both on the street and indoors.
  • We will offer you quality walks, allowing you to sniff, socialize with other dogs (whenever possible) or walk freely, without leash tugging.
  • Improve the dog's environment so that you have more mobility or access.
  • Offer him toys that promote calm and tranquility, such as kong, for example, although you can also provide gnaw bones or interactive toys.

These are the basic guidelines that you can apply at home, however and as we have explained to you, not all cases will succeed with these tips, so it is highly recommended to go to a professional figure for it, be it an ethologist, a dog trainer or trainer.

This article is merely informative, at AnimalWised.com we do not have the power to prescribe veterinary treatments or make any type of diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the vet in the event that it presents any type of condition or discomfort.

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