taming a hyper, overly energetic puppy

You have seen them, puppies and even adolescent dogs with energy to burn.  Nothing seems to slow them down.  You can walk them for 2 hours, run them in the back yard, and they still dig deep and stay on the go.  Worse, they take that energy out on you, your fingers, toes, clothes, and even furniture and floorboards.  So what can you do?  Sometimes when you put them out back, they dig to china and bring in more dirt than you can imagine.  Throw them in the crate?  We all know that’s not a good idea to lock them into their “safe place”.

Let’s attack this one resource at a time.  First, there is exercise, which can come in many ways.  The obvious solution is to walk your pup.  But what if they haven’t had all their shots and are restricted to the indoors until 4 ½ months?  Assuming they are older, you have to put in miles of walking to even begin to tucker them out, unless you are an Olympic fast-walker.  If you are in shape to run with them, that’s a better idea – panting is a good thing, and they’ll definitely pant on a run, but you’ll have to run them several miles, a couple of times a day to make a dent in their energy level.  You could bike or roller blade with them, if you’re willing to risk your life.   Tug O’ War is a great way to expend energy, but I wouldn’t recommend it for a dog on the aggressive side.  Then there is fetch.  Fetch is a great way to burn through some of your pup’s reserves.  But let’s assume they get bored and stop fetching after 15 minutes.

There is seemingly always more than one way to skin a cat.  And in this case there is.  We have so far focused on ways to physically tire your dogs out.  But as anyone that has studied for a test knows, you can get pretty tired via brain stimulation.  There are quite a few ways to do this with your pup.  First, you can bring out the puzzle toys.  There are different levels of difficulty with puzzle toys – just search Amazon for “dog puzzle toys” to investigate.  Find the right level puzzle toy for your dog and let them go at it.  But after reloading it a few times, you have to find an alternative.  You can get a Kong (I’d buy 2 so you can always have 1 ready to go), stuff it with either wet dog food, pumpkin, sweet potato, yogurt, or peanut butter (last resort), freeze it, and pull it out when all of the above is exhausted (in addition to yourself!).  Usually, a frozen Kong will give you 30 to 40 minutes of freedom, and also burn through some physical and mental energy.  Along the same lines as the Kong are treat-dispensing toys that, when maneuvered around by the dog, release treats.  There are plenty of other toys that will interact with your pup and keep them busy – just hit your local pet store or search Amazon or Chewy.

Next, training is a great way to consume some of that seemingly boundless energy.  There are literally hundreds of commands a dog can learn. Start with sit and move on from there.  I recommend training for no more than 20 minutes at a time before taking at least a half-hour break.  Puppies, older dogs and even people can focus for only so long – 20 minutes is where it’s at for dogs.  I recommend mixing up the commands as they learn more and more.  Do a sit, then a down, then a come, mix in a stay, and then expand their vocabulary.  You can find lists of commands on the web and if you need help training, you know who to call – Top Dog Training!

Last, if all else fails, timeouts can be used for pups that are just going bonkers, jumping, nipping, excessive barking, etc.  As mentioned earlier, crating your pup for bad behavior will make your pup hate their crate, and they need to have their “safe place”.  So when you have tried all of the above options, simply take your pup (who should always have a collar on) and bring them to a location free of toys and food and tether them to a leash that is connected on the other end to something heavy that doesn’t move.  Give them 3 or 4 feet of leash.  As you are bringing your dog to their timeout area, say “oops! Timeout!” several times.  Then clip them to the stationary leash and walk away.  Do not say another word to them or look at them for 3 minutes.  Make sure there are no toys or anything else they could possibly chew on.  When it is time to release your pup, simply unclip him and walk away without saying a word.  After a minute or two, resume your normal interactions.  If he starts acting up again, you may have to send him to multiple timeouts, especially at first.  Eventually, he will understand the meaning of the word “timeout” and you will be able to sometimes slow him down with just a mention of the word.

In conclusion, trying to calm your over-exuberant pup will require a full-court-press approach, and using the tools outlined above will inevitably achieve the desired goal of bringing your pup back to earth.

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