How to calm a high-energy puppy

How to calm a high-energy puppy

Posted by PetDirect on 14th Jul 2022

Although you might enjoy watching videos of puppies zooming around people’s gardens and generally being tiny, furry bundles of energy, you might not enjoy it so much if it’s your garden being torn up and your sleep being disturbed. To puppies, everything is brand new and incredibly exciting. Which means for new puppy parents, life with a puppy is exhausting and a lot of work. The good news is there’s plenty you can do to calm down a puppy that's bursting with energy.

High-energy vs hyperactive

When you’re tired from multiple night wake ups, it’s easy (and completely understandable!) to exaggerate your puppy’s behaviour. Rather than thinking of them as displaying typical puppy behaviour (a bundle of energy), you might start thinking that they’re hyperactive.

Hyperactivity in dogs is called hyperkinesis and it’s really rare - only a very small percentage of dogs experience it. Signs of hyperkinesis are:

      • Not learning well.
      • Being unable to maintain a sit or a down, even with practice.
      • An inability to settle overnight or in a calm, quiet environment.
      • Being overtly alert to new things.
      • An elevated heart rate.
      • Drooling or barking excessively.
      • Trouble maintaining weight.

If you see any of these symptoms, take your puppy to the vet.

5 ways to calm an energetic pup

Rather than a rare medical condition, it’s much more likely that your high-energy pup needs exercise and training. Here are 5 ways to calm down an energetic puppy.

1. Crate train them. Teaching your puppy that their crate is a happy place is really important. A crate is the ideal spot for naps and quiet time, and a safe place to contain your puppy when you have to leave them alone. Crates help a puppy feel safe and learn how to calm themselves, and hopefully have some good sleep. Regular naps and good sleep are essential for a calm puppy. Try not to constantly play with the puppy and get them over-excited - give them the chance and space to switch off for a by using their crate.

2. Manage their environment. Puppy constantly chewing your shoes, stealing the remote, and getting under your feet? Like with children, managing your puppy’s environment and setting boundaries will help channel their energy into the behaviour you do want. This starts by removing opportunities for things they shouldn’t do.

So, store your socks and shoes away and put the remote in a place they can’t reach. Pop them in their crate while you’re doing stuff and cannot supervise them. Or provide alternatives that they can expend their energy on like chew toys, or scheduled playtime fetching a ball and playing with a tug toy.

3. Give them plenty of exercise. Puppies have an almost endless enthusiasm for life - so plenty of exercise will help burn off all this energy. Puppies are rapidly growing and their bone structures are a work in progress for the first year of their life. This means high-intensity exercise, like walking for a long distance, jogging with you, or jumping about, aren’t suitable for puppies. Instead, offer a mix of exercise: physical, mental, sniffing and chewing.

● Good physical exercise for puppies includes short periods of play in fully fenced gardens.
● Good mental exercise for puppies includes training classes and daily at-home training sessions. Puzzle toys that reward them with treats are also a great tool.
● Dogs love to sniff and letting them exercise their sniffing sense is a good way to tire them out. Give them unique smelling objects to play with, like an orange that you’ve scored the skin of. Hide treats in cardboard boxes for a homemade treasure hunt. Let them forage for biscuits in grass rather than using a dog bowl.
● Puppies love to chew. It helps them explore their world and relieves the pain of teething. Provide them with a suitable range of items to chew, like chew toys. Not only will they tire your puppy out, but they’ll save your favourite shoes / furniture / hat from being destroyed. Read more on puppy teething.

4. Reward the good. When it comes to your puppy’s behaviour, you’ll probably focus on spotting the not-so-good behaviour and rectifying that. Try flipping it and instead focus on spotting your puppy doing something you like and reward them for it. Rewards can be treats, favourite toys or praise. This is a great way to teach your puppy to be calm. When you ask them to do something that requires them to be calm, like sit or down, wait until they do what you asked then offer up plenty of rewards. They’ll soon learn that good (read: calm) behaviour brings good things!

5. Train, then train some more. The best way to channel your puppy’s limitless energy? Training! The minute you bring your puppy home, they’re learning how to behave and what is and isn’t ok. Make sure they’re learning the lessons you want by enrolling them in puppy class and committing to training them every day at home. These sessions will be short (just 10-15 minutes is fine) and repetition is key - new skills need to be practised. Training is a life-long process that you and your pup (and then adult dog) will enjoy together. Learn about some basic voice commands you can teach your puppy.

Calming aids

There are also plenty of calming aids that can support your efforts to create a calming evironment for your puppy. Sprays and diffusers are helpful when utilising crates or carriers, as well as in your home or certain rooms that you'd want to be a calming space for your pets. There are also calming treats and supplements that you can incorporate into their diet to support their wellbeing while facilitating a calm puppy. Chat to your vet about the what may be the right fit for your pets.

Hopefully these tips help calm your excitable and energetic puppy. If you need any further help or have a question we haven’t answered, contact our friendly Pet Direct Customer Care team on 0800 200 240 or email support@petdirect.co.nz

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