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Advice for hyperactive and anxious dog

826 Views 4 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  DaySleepers
I have a foster dog who is extremely hyperactive. She's actually fairly well behaved in comparison to other hyperactive dogs, but the thing that stumps me is when her anxious side comes through into the hyperactivity. She is not a nervous dog by any means, but she is anxious. If that makes sense... Nothing phases her. She'll greet any stranger and be oblivious to any thunderstorm. But her hyperactivity can turn into what I can only describe as anxiousness.

She's not a dog you can just let wear themselves out and call it a day. She will go and go and go, likely until she truly can't go anymore which is what scares me. It can be 90 something degrees outside, this pup just ran around like crazy with her foster brother, she's panting like no tomorrow and she still just can't hold still. She's absolutely exhausted and gasping with every pant but she refuses to stop moving. She walks around almost mindlessly, will even trip over herself or anything in her way. If I manage to get her to sit (or rarely lay) down she's up a few seconds later aimlessly walking around with no direction or intent. She is the poster child of doggie ADHD.

My question is, what's the explanation/root for this behavior and what's the best way to deal with it? It gets in the way of training because she is often reckless, even to the point of self harm. Even if I know she knows how she should behave when she's in that state of mind it's like the outer world is a blur to her.
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I'm always a big fan of nose games - whether that's actual training for a scent-based sport (nosework, tracking, barn hunt, scent ID work, etc) or just playing fun games like 'find the treats hidden around this room'. They're naturally calming and confidence-building, very accessible (you don't need lots of fancy equipment to get started), and typically very fun for most dogs. It works out their brain while letting them participate in a soothing behavior, and often leads to a calmer dog.

We also use a lot of pattern games with our older dog. These are repetitive, predictable 'mini-games' that always result in rewards. Our oldest has arousal issues and struggles to settle and feel in control while outside the home, and also reacts with intense frustration and energy to strange dogs. These games have helped give him something routine and predictability to fall back on when he's feeling out of control of the environment and his own emotional responses, and we've seen that he's starting to turn to us for the pattern games instead of escalating his negative reactions. Our favorites with him are a counting game (we count "one, two, three" and he always gets a treat on "three") and a 'look at me' game, where he gets a treat tossed down to find every time he looks at us, but there's a lot more out there for different situations, dogs, and training styles. Leslie McDevitt is the name to search for if you want to learn more - other trainers use similar techniques, but she's the one who coined the phrase 'pattern games,' so using her name makes them a lot easier to find videos and articles about how to use them.

Good luck! Recognizing this and working on it early is a great start.
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