How to Calm an Overexcited Dog? (Explained)

How to Calm an Overexcited Dog

Is your dog all over the house, yipping and jumping? Does he have a serious case of the zoomies? Learn how to calm an overexcited dog and how to control it by taking a look at the advice below!

If your dog is overexcited, you will have to take a firm and active approach to calm them down and keep them that way. Steps to do this include not encouraging the excitement but instead rewarding the calm behavior; keeping yourself calm and consistent in your approach to your dog’s overexcitement; distracting them using their sense of smell, and; working out their energy naturally.

Not sure how to do that when your dog is freaking out? Below are some practical tips for real-life dogs and stressed-out pet parents!

Can dogs get too excited?

It’s more normal than not for your dog to get excited. By nature, dogs are very excitable creatures. From the sound of a cheese wrapper to someone saying the word “walk” in conversation, dogs can get ridiculously excited for absolutely no reason (from our perspective.) Every dog will get too excited at some point, so understanding how to recognize and fix the behavior is important.

Is it normal for dogs to get overexcited?

This mostly depends on what kind of dog you have. Some dogs will get overexcited more than others, which is going to be due to their breed. High-energy dog breeds are more prone to over-excitement than low-energy breeds. Also, dogs that struggle with separation anxiety or fear/anxiety, in general, are more likely to deal with overexcitement.

The other factor is that a dog who is rewarded for being overexcited will get over-excited again and again since they see that their excitement is a good thing. Retraining this behavior is possible, but the longer you let it go, the longer it’ll take to retrain!

How do you know if your dog is overexcited?

This is a valid question! After all, an excited dog is fine, whereas an overexcited dog will be frustrating. The best way to understand what an overexcited dog looks like is by explaining what overexcitement would look like in a series of everyday situations!

An over-excited dog with visitors

If you have visitors, an over-excited dog would be jumping up and down on your visitor to get their attention, often nipping at them. They’ll whine and shake and often pee a little as they hop and dance around. This can be short-term for the first few minutes or longer. Some dogs get over-excited with anyone who comes in, and others will get that way for only certain people.

An over-excited dog on a walk

If your dog is on a walk and gets over-excited, you’ll notice them panting excessively, holding their body alert, tugging on the leash, etc. They’ll be all over the place, leaving you to feel that your dog is walking you rather than the other way around!

An over-excited dog with other dogs

If your dog is around other dogs, you’ll notice many of the same behavior as when greeting visitors and walking. There will also be a case of the zoomies, where your dog will run around and try to “get the other dog going” as far as engaging in play and fun.

They won’t listen to you and can even be so over-enthusiastic that the other dog gets overwhelmed. An over-excited dog is an out-of-control dog, so take this as your warning to start understanding this behavior as the potential risk that it is!

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An overexcited dog when I come home

This is one area where many of us actually see our dogs as being over-excited! Over-excited dogs will act like they haven’t seen you in years and will jump and bark and pee, much like they would for a guest. They’ll be absolutely beside themselves with sheer elation at seeing you — even if you were gone long enough to get the mail down the road.

What does a greeting look like from an over-excited dog?

It often involves whinging, shaking, excessive tail wagging (otherwise known as the “body wag,”) and peeing. There is often jumping (either on you or just up in the air) and lots of barking and spinning. 

This can happen with just one person or with any and all of their owners who come home from school or work. It typically happens every time!

Ways to calm an over-excited dog

When you look at ways to calm your dog down, you’ll want to focus on “heat of the moment” solutions and then retraining solutions. The heat of the moment solutions, as introduced above, include:

  • Keep calm
  • Stay consistent in your approach to your dog’s over-excitement
  • Distract your dog with another sense
  • Work out your dog’s excitement energy

Keep calm

Your dog is going to read your energy. If you get upset and stressed, your dog’s reaction will worsen. Use calm body language and a calm voice. It doesn’t fix the problem in and of itself, but it won’t worsen it, either.

Stay consistent in your approach to your dog’s over-excitement

As we’ll discuss in greater detail below, the techniques will be dedicated to helping your dog understand what not to do. As with any kind of retraining, you’ll need to stay consistent in the approach you take and do the same thing every time for your dog’s comprehension.

Distract your dog with another sense

Most experts will recommend using a dog’s sense of smell since it’s their strongest sense. If you distract them with the smell of something that calms them (like lavender,) this will help them find calm faster than anything else. While it shouldn’t be the only technique you use, you’ll want to use that to help “take the edge off” their excitement.

Work out your dog’s excitement energy

If your dog is excited and you’re somewhere you can’t get away from the situation, and you have no “tips” to help you, then you can manually work out your dog’s energy. If your dog is over-excited, take them on a gentle jog with you. This gives them an outlet for their excitement, but it focuses on you and obeying your commands.

If you’re looking specifically for retraining tips so that you can help your dog outlearn this behavior, focus on these long-term suggestions:

  • Mix up cues of their triggers
  • Don’t reward them until they settle
  • Exercise them regularly
  • Feed them a proper diet

Mix up cues of their triggers

If they always get excited when you jingle your keys, start to add this behavior in whenever you can to help desensitize them to it. With all of the triggers that cause overexcitement (including verbal ones like “walk” or “treat,”) focus on integrating them into your day and ignore all excitement they show. Reward only the positive effect — more on that next.

If they get excited before a walk because you jingle the leash, you’ll want to wait to go on the walk. Don’t take them outside to go on the walk until they are calm and controlled. The walk is the reward, in this case.

Don’t reward them until they settle

No matter what, do not reward them until they give you the behavior you want — calm and quiet behavior. This includes petting, affection, eye contact, a click (if you’re using a clicker), or a treat. They’ll associate a reward with action, so you want to ensure that you’re giving the reward for the correct action!

Exercise them regularly

A lot of dogs get overstimulated because they are pent up! Make sure that they get the recommended amount of exercise and playtime to help them, essentially, be too worn out to get overexcited. This is also important for their mental and emotional health, so it’s a win-win.

Feed them a proper diet

A healthy dog is a happy dog. When a dog is overexcited, it’s a sign of bad health — sort of. Overexcitement comes from too much stimulation. This can often be related to slight malnutrition. Perhaps it’s too much sugar or not enough protein. Like humans, dogs can’t feel at their best or strongest if they are not fed correctly!

Photo of an overexcited dog running.

Situation-specific ways to calm an overexcited dog

So, let’s look at all of those situations again and see just how you could take the approach of calming your dog.

An over-excited dog with visitors

You’ll want to put your dog on a leash and attach it to a point in your home that will keep them contained. You can also use a crate. In this situation, you will want to ignore your dog’s hyperactive behavior (and your guest should, too), including barking, jumping, and more.

Once your dog calms down entirely, you can let them off the leash to greet guests. Tell your guest to turn away from them and ignore them if they misbehave. You will then pen them up again and repeat.

It may take some time to get your dog used to the problem, but the results will be worth it!

An over-excited dog on a walk

If your dog gets over-excited on a walk, the best thing you can do is beware of the situation before it begins and then starts walking in the opposite direction of the stimuli. Keep your dog focused on you and try to work out some of their anticipation by jogging or being distracted with a toy. 

When they calm down and have “forgotten” about their excitement, you can resume on your path from before. Proper socialization is going to help with desensitizing them, too.

An over-excited dog with other dogs

This will come back to socialization as much as the above point. They need to understand that other dogs will be around, and they may or may not want to play. You’ll need to teach them obedience commands to stop the overexcitement in its tracks. Keep them leashed until you know that they will obey you each time.

An overexcited dog when I come home

This is the most challenging for pet parents since we miss our furry friends when we’re gone, too, and seeing them so excited does our hearts good. However, following the same advice as your visiting guest is important — ignore the jumping and hyperactivity and acknowledge only the calm, controlled behavior with a greeting.

How to greet my over-excited dog

Has your dog calmed down enough that you can greet them and reinforce the good behavior? When you address him, do it in a calm, positive, loving voice. Tell them hello, give them a gentle ear rub, and a few pets. Don’t go overboard or get them all excited again. Controlling your reaction is just as crucial as redirecting theirs!

How do I teach my dog to calm down and relax on cue?

When you need to tell them to calm down and relax on cue, similar to the example about over-excitement with other dogs, it will come down to using commands for obedience training. Basic ones like “no,” “down,” and “bed” (which would tell them to go and lie down) are good ones.

You’ll also want to make sure that you give them no attention. No eye contact, no physical contact, and even leave the room or turn away. Encourage everyone else in the room to do the same. 

Your dog wants nothing more than to please you, so taking this approach teaches them that their hyperactivity doesn’t earn them a reward and instead takes it away. This will teach them what to do quickly. 

How do you calm a hyperactive dog naturally?

Some pet care products exist to calm hyperactive dogs. These products are very helpful in situations where they are fearful, like thunderstorms. However, most situations can be addressed with natural calming options, like we’ve talked about: obedience training, distractions, withdrawal of affection, and more. These will teach your dog quickly what’s acceptable and what’s not!

Conclusion

Dogs get over-excited for many reasons. You’ll need to calm them down by discouraging their excitement, rewarding only the good behavior, and keeping your energy calm.

Calming an overexcited dog is going to about taking charge of the situation, your own emotions, their attitude, and achieving the right outcome through patience and consistency.

Understanding the triggers and how to fix them will help you and your dog learn about a better way to express their feelings. 

The tips above will help you do just that. Know someone who is struggling with this very problem? Share this with them to help!

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