How to Live With a Hyper Dog Without Losing Your Marbles
Jayda, the Belgian Malinois, is a coiled spring thirty feet away, tense and quivering as she waits for me to give the command. I sing out, “Take it!” and she nearly flies to the ball lying in the grass, tosses it in the air and plays keep-away for a minute, feinting left and right like a flash as I chase her.
Unlike dogs that snooze contentedly after a mild leash walk, super-sonic dogs like Jayda are always on the move; pacing, barking and nudging us for more playtime, more walks, and more attention. Before heading out on another endless trudge down the sidewalk, save your worn-out sneakers and try these tips for chilling out your hyper hound.
Learn to do more with less
Shorter sprints in the yard can take a charge out of your active dog better than a meandering walk. I use a twenty-foot training line when working with Jayda, incorporating commands into ball time and even adding in a leap or two over the homemade jumps I fashioned from PVC pipe. Just five to ten minutes temporarily satisfies her need for speed.
Exercise the brain, not just the body
Play some mind games with your dog. To play one of my all-time favorite brain-busters, grab three large plastic cups and one meaty treat. Place the treat under one of the cups and then slide them around each other to mix up the order. Now stand back and watch your dog solve the problem. If your dog aces this test, add more cups.
Embrace the chew
When dogs chew, it’s not just for taste! They actually work important muscles in their jaw and relieve stress at the same time. I offer stuffed bones or long-lasting chews that hold up to active teeth, like elk antlers. Ask your dog to lie down on his bed so he doesn’t just pace around the coffee table and drop it on your toes. Rotate the types of chews to keep your dog guessing.
Keep it fresh
As winter approaches, the more adventurous among you may wish to try one of the new sports for dog-and-owner teams, like skijoring. In this snowy romp, one to three dogs pull a cross-country skier. You’ll wear a skijoring harness and the dogs wear a sled-dog harness, linked to you by a rope. Weekend warriors beware: staying clear of trees and semi-frozen lakes will require lots of practice and good communication between you and your dog. Skijoring may not be quite as easy on asphalt, but for those living in snowless climates make it a point to introduce your dog to a fun new activity. Developing a new skill or playing a new game will challenge your dog physically and mentally, and let you escape the routine of walking around the block.
Encourage down time
Making home a haven for your dog is an important step in calming hyperactivity. Jayda’s gated area, complete with fresh water and soft bedding, gives her the signal that it’s time for a break. A couple of Pet Naturals Calming Chews help send her to dreamland, where she can chase squirrels to her heart’s content.
While having a hyper dog can take its toll, remember that it's your attitude makes or breaks any situation. You may not have as much time to stop and smell the roses when it’s playtime, but roses can’t wag their tails, and they never lick your face.