Is Your Dog Truly Hyper?



With the arrival of cold weather, many dog owners exercise their dogs less frequently. This often results in winter weight-gain for dogs (and humans). Another result of less exercise is that many dogs become classified as "hyper" by their owners.

An article in "DogWatch" from Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine reports that only a veterinarian can tell if a dog is clinically hyperactive. To gauge if a dog is hyperactive, a veterinarian observes the dog's resting heart rate and level of activity, administers a dose of amphetamine, and then takes those measurements after 30-90 minutes.  While a normal dog becomes more agitated and has a higher heart rate after receiving the drug, a hyperactive dog exhibits a paradoxical effect: he becomes calmer and has a lower heart rate.

When tests determine that a dog is truly hyperactive, the veterinarian can prescribe Ritalin, a mild central nervous system stimulant that, paradoxically, has a calming effect on children who suffer from hyperactivity resulting from attention deficit disorders.  In hyperactive dogs, this drug also has a calming, rather than stimulating, effect.

Most dogs who seem to be hyper are actually under-exercised. These dogs have an innate motivation to do things and they need more exercise than their owners are giving them. This is especially true of young dogs, particularly males, from hunting or working breeds.

If you think your dog is hyperactive, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How do you exercise your dog?
  • How long do you exercise your dog?
  • Describe a typical 24-hour day in your dog's life.

If the 24-hour day does not include a 45-minute walk, your dog is probably not getting enough exercise, despite your good intentions. If your dog is under-exercised, options for remedying the situation include increasing exercise, getting a canine companion for your dog (or arranging "play dates" with a friendly dog), or obedience training. It's important not to reward overactive dogs by paying attention to their misbehavior, as they are likely to try for the attention - even for a reprimand which for them is better than no attention at all.

If you're a jogger, try taking your dog along to ensure he gets enough exercise, but be sure to keep him on his leash. If he pulls on the leash, try a Gentle Leader type head collar. If you don't jog or prefer not to do so with your dog, daily walks are also good for you and for your canine companion. At a minimum, dogs should get a half-hour of brisk walking each day, which can be broken up into 15 minutes twice daily. Young working breeds, like Goldens, need at least 45 minutes daily. Obviously when the weather gets warm again, dogs should exercise far less or only in the coolest hours of the day or night.

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This information is made available to you by the efforts of YGRR volunteers. To join them in helping our homeless Goldens, please consider becoming a member or making a donation.

Thank you.



Yankee Golden Retriever Rescue, Inc. is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1985.
Rescue and Adoption services for Golden Retrievers from the six New England states.
Address: P.O. Box 808, Hudson, MA 01749-0808
Hotline: 978-568-9700


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