How to calm an agitated puppy

Is your puppy happy, anxious, or acting out? Sometimes puppy owners have a hard time deciphering this when their pups have become so excited they can't contain it! Here are some common triggers, dos, and don’ts, plus helpful puppy training tips to manage over-excitement in your pup!
@kernowbearsnewfoundlands

 

“Oh look, he’s so happy!” but is your puppy actually exhibiting over-excitement behaviors? 
What some think is a puppy displaying happiness, is actually a state known as over-excitement, where your puppy has become hyper and aroused by something or someone. And over-excitement, which physiologically speaking releases a rush of dopamine in our pups, can become addictive, only propagating compulsive behaviors even further.  

An over-excited puppy might not seem like a big deal to you now, but not managing those over-excited occurrences can lead to future behavioral issues. You might encounter times where you have a lack of control over your puppy when they are in this aroused state, making it difficult or even impossible to get them to listen to you. Or you might find your puppy needed to direct their energy onto other, potentially destructive activities. If left unmanaged as your puppy grows up, they might begin to display negative tendencies like for example, reacting to other dogs on a leash or barking toward new people. 

A problem puppy owners have is not knowing how to spot over-excitement in their pups. Additionally, they can inadvertently encourage their excitement or even try to correct it without addressing the root cause. 

 

Knowing When Your Puppy is Getting Too Excited

So what are those over-excited behaviors to keep on eye on? If you notice that your puppy is calm one moment, and suddenly experiences a behavior change such as zoomies (uncontrollably running in circles or back and forth), jumping, mouthing and nipping, barking, spinning in circles, etc. These are all signs that your puppy has become over-excited.

And to clarify, over-excitement is different than just high-energy. Some breeds, like herding or hunting dogs, for example, are naturally prone to be more active than other breeds and may display hyperactive behaviors like the ones we mentioned earlier. Generally, though this can be managed by provided those breeds a necessary outlet like regular training or nose work games.

Over-excitement can happen in your puppy due to a sudden surprise by some new stimulus, getting aroused in an activity, or if they are anxiously anticipating something. This leads us to discuss triggers!

Common Over-excitement Triggers
@frankiepeanut_

 

If you’ve identified that your puppy is dealing with over-excitement behaviors, then the next step in managing your puppy’s excitement is to do a little investigating into what stimulates them, and watching them for changes in their behavior. And you can start off by asking yourself...

“Does my puppy pull on the leash and whine during walks?”

“Does my puppy go into zoomies when I let them go outside in the yard?”

“Does my puppy start barking or jumping out of nowhere when I come home?”

“Does my puppy start circling and jumping up on me around feeding time?”

Continue thinking about all the instances your puppy displayed some over-excited behavior. And also think about what was happening during those activities: your puppy gets surprised by seeing other dogs, squirrels, and people during their walk or in your yard. Your puppy has been home for hours waiting for your return, when suddenly you walk through the door. You might notice a trend of surprise and anticipation as two of the prevalent factors in these instances, which can contribute to an arousal build up in your puppy.

“Does my puppy start to growl and snap during playtime?”

Other triggers can happen during an activity, especially playtime. It’s not uncommon for a puppy that was already engaged in something stimulating like a tug game for example, to be playing nicely one moment, and then escalate, only to growl and nip the next. During these activities, sometimes our hands and feet, which are like fun moving targets for pups, can entice and arouse your puppy.

 

Dos and Don’ts to Help Calm Your Puppy

Now that you understand some triggers that can cause over-excitement in your puppy, what happens next? We’ve compiled a few helpful dos and don’ts for you to remember and follow the next time your puppy is experiencing a bout of over-excitement!

  1. Don’t encourage their excitement. This is one thing that many owners inadvertently do one way or another. Giving your puppy attention with equally high energy is only serving to hype up your puppy even more. One thing we like to tell our owners at school is “you get what you pet!”, so instead, be as neutral in energy as possible and don’t feed into this excitement. Opt to give your pup some crate or playpen time to help them calm down, or you can choose to redirect that energy into good, by giving them something productive to do and actively working them through it, like practicing some on-leash training routines.

  2. Don’t believe the myth “they will grow out of it”. There is a misconception that with age, puppy energy will disappear. While some pups do calm down as they get older, over-excitement isn’t regular puppy energy and can continue to appear even in adult dogs. The key thing is to understand when and what causes over-excitement in order to address it before it gets out of hand.

  3. Do give your puppy an outlet. One of the best ways to manage over-excitement is to direct your puppy’s energy toward something healthy like an activity or toy. Structured play like Fetch, plus access to mentally stimulating puzzle games and toys, are all super useful tools to help your puppy maintain activeness.

  4. Do reward calm behavior. Allow your pup ample time to completely relax and settle, then you can reward them with attention, some calming rubs, or a special chew toy they can enjoy that encourages them to stay calm. Rewarding them at the right time in the right way will help them learn faster what the acceptable behavior is!

  5. Do remain calm at all times! The best way to deal with an over-excitement puppy is to remain calm yourself. This means don’t exhibit how frustrated you might be and always keep a slow and even tone of voice to help your puppy settle down.

  6. Offer him a safe place. For any puppy it is very important to have a private space where he can relax peacefully. This is where the soft and plush PAKYPET™ bed comes into play. It gives your puppy security and relaxation with its soft plush layer and also helps greatly to relieve anxiety and stress.