Ask an Expert - Calming hyperactive behaviour
Q: My Boston Terrier, Scout, is frequently in overdrive, over-excitedly jumping, bumping into me, charging about, nipping at me. How can I tone down his boisterous behaviour? —Bowled Over in Boise
A:Some dogs, especially some breeds, are full of energy. Here are five options to help calm a boisterous dog:
Exercise. Most dogs who are over-exuberant are not getting the amount of exercise they need for their age and breed. For a typical adolescent dog, a walk around the block isn’t sufficient exercise. You need to get his heart rate pumping for a sustained period. Try starting at 30 minutes a day and see if it has an impact on Scout’s behaviour.
Training. Instead of getting frustrated at what Scout is doing, give him something else to do that you like better. Don’t want him jumping on you? Teach him “sit” or “down.” Train him to chew on appropriate toys.
Sports. If you have a dog that is a jumping bean, how about trying agility? There are lots of sports to give Scout an outlet, such as flyball, lure coursing, sledding, herding competitions, and more.
Diet. If you’re feeding a high-calorie, high-protein food, it may be too much for Scout’s lifestyle. The average suburban dog does not need a “performance” diet! Consult your veterinarian if you have questions about what to feed.
Massage. Some dogs need help learning how to calm down. Learn how to massage Scout to help him relax. Start after an exercise session, when he’s more likely to be tired. Begin by gently stroking the outside edges of his ears. Rub your thumbs in slow, small circles on his forehead, gradually down his spine and along his body. Make sure it’s a pleasant experience for him. Start with short sessions and gradually make them longer as Scout learns to relax.