Do you own a dog that never stops moving, jumping, squirming, running, and playing? And never seems satisfied to sit still with you? Is he making your life a nightmare? Then you need to read this.
Typically, the most hyper and active dog breeds are the working dogs. Hunting and herding dogs such as the spaniels, terriers, retrievers. This includes Jack Russell Terriers, Labs, Australian Shepherds, etc. They are bred with a job to do, and will never be content being a couch potato.
The number one rule of owning an active breed... EXERCISE, and plenty of it. You will never be able to change the dog’s need to be active, so you need to fulfill it somehow. This may mean daily long walks, running and playing in the yard, treadmill, whatever. It is imperative that you drain their energy before any other training will be successful. There is an article on this site about dog sports and activities . Most active dogs enjoy chasing a ball or Frisbee, or sports like agility. Perhaps even rollerblading, biking, hiking, or even just running in the park. Find what works for you and your lifestyle and implement it. I take my chocolate lab out twice a day, either to run and play Frisbee in the yard or to take a nice long walk in the neighborhood, and he also uses the treadmill and plays with the neighbor’s dog. If you can’t commit to exercising your dog somehow every day, then an active breed may not be the right choice for you.
What NOT to do with a hyper dog…
1. Yell at them to settle down. Raising your voice or becoming frustrated and stressed out will only fuel their excitement more.
2. Lock them in their crate as punishment, or confine them outside or in a room all alone. Again, this will only make it worse.
So once your dog has had his daily exercise and it’s time to wind down and be quiet, how do you get him to do it? Teach him the “Settle” command. It’s really pretty easy. This command could quite possibly save his life. I have heard far too many stories of people who acquire a dog before doing their research on the breed, only to discover how hyper and active the dog is. They don’t know how to handle it and it becomes a problem for their life, so the dog ultimately ends up going either to a new owner or back to the shelter. This saddens me because it is never the dog’s fault and until someone learns how to deal with the active needs of the dog, he will never have a good life.
Teaching your dog to Settle on command is easy and fun, for both you and your dog. If you can teach him any cute trick, you can teach him this.
Start out by supplying yourself with a handful of treats. Get on the floor and sit next to your dog while he lays next to you. If yours is like mine, the squirming and squiggling will already begin. With one hand, gently hold him in place and place your other hand on the dog somewhere. You can pet or gently massage. Remain very calm and speak in a calm, slow voice. Say “Settle”. Then wait. The very second he stops moving and lays still, say something like “Good boy!” or “Yes!” and give him a treat (calmly). Do it again. Continue to do this over and over. Maybe gently push his head down on your lap as you say “Settle”. Remember to remain calm and patient through the whole process, you want to convey very calm and quiet energy at this point, since dogs tend to take their cue from us and our behavior. It may be tough at first, but take a deep breath and be patient. Never get frustrated. Your goal is for him to stop moving when you say "Settle".
Repeat this over and over two or three times a day for 5-10 minutes at a time until he catches on that he will get a reward by simply relaxing and being still. You can do this while watching TV. After a couple days begin holding a paw or examining his ears, or lifting his lips to look at his teeth, while saying “Settle” very calmly, and remember to get happy and reward every time he relaxes and allows you to.
It shouldn’t take long for your dog to make the connection between “Settle” and being still. Once you feel he’s got the idea while sitting on the floor, try this next step, this is where it become like a game and is really fun for your dog.
While standing, get your dog really wound up by playing tug or just being excited and crazy with him. Then stop movement quickly and say “Settle”. If he stops playing too and looks at you, whoohoo!, praise and reward! Then get going again and get crazy with him. It’s kind of like the old Simon Says game if you remember that (I’m probably dating myself here). The game is that at any moment during the fun you might freeze and say “Settle” and he is to stop also, then he gets the reward. It took my crazy, hyperactive dog about a week to fully grasp the Settle command once we started this game. He will immediately stop, sit and drop what is in his mouth, looking at me for the reward.
Begin using “Settle” throughout your daily routine, any time you want him to be still. In the presence of other people, when jumping on you, whatever. Just continue using it and be sure to reward with either a treat or an enthusiastic “Good Boy!” every time. Or “Good Settle!” I often say “Good Settle” even at random times when he is at rest to reinforce it.
My dog had a severe excitement issue when getting in and out of the car, and nothing I tried was working until I taught him to Settle. Now he will calm down and sit quietly in the car if I say "Settle" (most of the time - it's a work in progress). And the entire time he is still I reinforce by quietly telling him "That's a good Settle", and "Good Boy".
Teaching your dog to Settle can be valuable for many, many situations, even if you don’t have a particularly hyper dog. For example, when going to the groomer or vet, if you want to trim his nails or examine his ears, in the car, greeting visitors at the front door, or even in a medical emergency. In my opinion, this is one of the most important of all commands.
First and foremost, be sure to provide ample time for your dog to drain his or her energy, and then teach them to “Settle” on command, and your life will be so much more peaceful.
Education is the first step in pet poison prevention.
Pet owners should take the time to educate themselves on the various, sometimes unexpected, pet poisons in their environments. The Pet Poison Helpline provides an extensive list of poisonous items for pet owners to be aware of, but here are a few of the most common items seen by veterinarians:
Many people believe certain dog breed, such as huskies and malamutes, are capable of living outside all of the time because of their thick coats. However, no dog breed should be consistently left unprotected outside. According to the City of Cincinnati, when the temperature is below 20 degrees Fahrenheit or above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, a pet owner should not leave their dog outside for longer than sixty minutes without adequate shelter. For outside dogs, owners should provide a warm, dry, draft free shelter with fresh, unfrozen water. Heated water bowls are a great option to ensure consistent access to unfrozen water. Owners should also feed their outdoor dogs more during the winter because their bodies use more energy trying to keep warm. In 2016, the City of Cincinnati passed an ordinance with further restrictions and shelter guidelines for dog tethering and weather conditions, which can be found by clicking here
A common winter hazard that vets encounter consistently with cats is engine belt injuries. Cats will climb into cars to keep warm, and without knowing they’re there, people will start their cars and harm the cats. Before starting your car in the winter, it’s advised to give the car hood a few raps to make sure there are no cats cozied up inside.
Pets start an estimated 1,000 fires per year. While this isn’t a huge number, it’s easily preventable. Pet owners should identify the risks in their home and make sure they’re contained from pets. Risks to consider include, open flames such as candles, space heaters, stovetops, fireplaces, and frayed wires chewed by puppies.
Even if all fire hazards are contained from pets, there’s still always a chance of a house fire. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) , there’s a home fire reported every 86 seconds in the United States. So while the hope is that you and your pets never have to face a fire, it’s important to have a plan.
In case of a fire, pet owners should hang window clings that let firefighters know there’s a pet in the home. The ASPCA offers a free Pet Fire Safety Pack that includes a window decal. When leaving home, pet owners should know where their pets are and keep them close to exits if possible. Pet owners should also consider investing in monitored smoke detectors that alert homeowners of a fire when they’re not home and automatically dispatch firefighters.
Getting your dog microchipped is an easy and relatively inexpensive procedure that drastically increases the odds that your pet will find its way home if it’s ever lost. A microchip is a tiny chip that’s about the size of a grain of rice and contains a unique identification number. It’s injected into a pet’s skin between the shoulder blades on their back. When scanned with an electric scanner, the chip will show the unique identification number and manufacturer of the microchip. This unique identification number will be linked to the pet owner’s contact information in the microchip manufacturer’s database.
If a stranger ever finds your dog, a shelter or veterinarian can scan your pet for a microchip. Once they have the identification number and manufacturer from the chip reading, they will call the manufacturer in search of the pet owner’s contact information. Therefore, if a dog owner moves or changes their contact information, it’s extremely important for them to update the contact information associated with their pet’s microchip identification number.