Wednesday, March 17, 2010

HYPERACTIVE OR ADHD?

If you are like me and you’re ready to shoot yourself and get it over with, you may be living with a hyperactive dog! I’ve owned German Shepherd Dogs most of my adult life and of all the dogs that I’ve owned only one time did I ever own a hyperactive one. Most of the time the German Shepherd Dog has steady nerves and given the proper amount of exercise and training, they make wonderful companion dogs. With that said, remember that the German Shepherd is a very emotional dog that requires lots of interaction and attention from his owner. Ignore him and he’ll become even more pushy and demanding until he gets some reaction from you. Good or bad, he’ll take whatever type of attention you give him.

Every once in a while, you will come across one of those dogs that truly can be called a hyperactive dog. Some people and veterinarians as well wonder if these types of dogs have the same condition that some children have called attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity (ADHD). ADHD in the dog is a remote possibility. So far it hasn’t be proven that dogs can have this disorder, but if they need a “poster child” for research into this condition, I own the “perfect” representative that I’ll gladly offer them!  See her angelic face looking back at you in her puppy picture above!

Within seconds……not even minutes, that my dog comes into the house, total chaos erupts and my nerves begin to rattle. It’s like she has a stick of dynamite up her pretty little “tush” and she’s constantly on the move. Up on the counters, up on the stove, up on the table, up on the walls, up on her sister and mother and up on my nerves! I love her dearly, but I fear an early grave is being dug for me because these old bones just “ain’t” what they used to be any more! Nope, I just can’t keep up with my wild child! Caesar Milan, where are you when I need you? She’s is definitely a prime candidate for his television show! It’s like she is putting herself on constant display. She struts, she poses, and she’s all about herself.

So just what does it mean when you have a hyperactive dog? Are they born this way? Are they made this way? Or maybe it’s a combination of the two. And the better question still is how the heck do you live in harmony with these types of wild kids?

An overactive dog is a dog that is in perpetual motion most of the time. They seem to have boundless energy and even age doesn’t seem to slow these guys and dolls down. They’re on “display” constantly. Their need for stimulation is more highly developed than that of the normal dog. Normal everyday life is not as satisfying for these dogs. They are constantly inquisitive and they seem to never miss anything that is going on. Because of their high energy level, this type of dog would do well in agility work to help alleviate some of his boundless energy.

This type of dog requires lots of stimulation and exercise. Put this dog to work, and he’ll be happy and hopefully tired enough to learn to lie down and relax once in awhile. This is not the type of dog that does well in a crate for most of the day while you are away at work. He’ll come out bouncing off the walls more than he already does. I love what this next sentence says about this that I found when doing research for this article. I quote: “These dogs may behave as if they are trying to cram 24 hours of fun into a one- or two-hour window of time, which is close to the truth.” (End quote). Kind of sad isn’t it!

The hyperactive dog is different from the highly reactive dog. The reactive dog is just what the word says……he reacts to every little thing; much more than the average dog would. Everything that’s in his life, he reacts to practically going berserk. If he hears footsteps coming up the walk way, if a car screeches its tires, leaves falling from the trees, you name it; this dog reacts to it in a wild uncontrollable way. Again, maybe this type of dog is not getting enough attention or enough exercise.

Another reason some dogs may “act out” is because they are looking for attention from their owners in any way that they can. Now here’s the psychology behind this which is so very similar to childrens behavior. If you only pay attention to the dog when he’s misbehaving, then that’s what he’s going to do…..misbehave. He’s got your attention. You yell and scream at him when he’s jumping all over the furniture. You yell at him for barking and making a nuisance of himself. In other words, we are encouraging our dog’s bad behavior and reinforcing it by paying attention to him when he’s doing these undesirable things. He’s got our attention now. All eyes are on him and that’s all he’s wanted from you in the first place. Now you have to use reverse psychology on him, by ignoring the bad behavior (go ahead try doing this when he’s ripping your bedspread to shreds) and rewarding the good behavior (does he really know what that is)!

Aggression and pushy attention seeking or bully type of behavior are other behaviors often associated with hyperactivity.

For a veterinarian to even entertain the idea that a dog can have ADHD, he must view the dog on his own. He will watch to see if the dog is in constant motion, jumping, running, turning around and around and reacting to even the mildest environmental distractions. If the vet is worn out by watching this dog, he might diagnosis him with being hyperactive. The true test for this condition is to give the dog a stimulant like Ritalin or Dexedrine under controlled clinical conditions. Here he will have his heart rate, respiratory rate and behavior observed. If the dog truly has ADHD, all of these parameters will be reduced. Newer drugs like Adderall may prove even more effective than Ritalin or Dexedrin.

ADHD is considered a genetic condition. It is rare and can only be diagnosed by a veterinarian or a behaviorist that has experience with this condition. Most of the time, however a dog that is hyperactive needs to have his environment, training and exercise regiment changed. It is more likely that one or a combination of these factors contributes to the hyperactive dog’s misbehavior and not the disease of ADHD.


When doing the research for this article, it was an eye opener for me because I live with a hyperactive dog. I learned that my “misbehaving” girl that is a constant source of torture to her sister and her less than tolerant mother is really looking for more attention from me. I must say that she exhausts me with her “neediness!” I do however; know that she loves to go for walks. She loves to investigate and smell everything. She is truly a happy dog but doesn’t know what to do with all that built up emotion and energy. She needs an outlet for it all and until I help her release it, she will be like that little “energizer bunny” that we used to see advertised on television all those years ago.

So should I be hanging my head in shame and admit I’m like the human character in the book called, “No bad dogs." Am I that “bad” person? Am I the source of my frustrated dogs’ intolerable behavior? Did I create a monster? Just maybe I’ve contributed to it in some way because looking back, she was a sick puppy for a short period in her life where I was overly protective of her and coddled her maybe a little too much. In her little baby mind, this gave her a higher position in the “pecking order” and boy did she ever use it.

So unless your dog has been diagnosed by a veterinarian as having a definite medical condition like ADHD, living with a hyperactive dog can be controlled. Like everything else it takes time and patience which sometimes seems I don’t have enough of. As I said in my third paragraph, “It’s like my girl is on constant display.” I didn’t realize how profound that sentence was until I finished researching this subject. Yup, she’s on display alright because it’s my attention that she’s after. So my dog isn’t really hopeless……………it’s all about me! She’s saying, “Look at me!” I always knew that she was very intelligent and now I truly understand that she is more intelligent than I thought. Once again another example of the dog teaching the human. If we would only listen more, we’d understand just what it is that they are trying to tell us. There truly are no bad dogs!  We don't only need to train our dogs, we need to train ourselves.


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This is a formula of guidelines, discipline, and correction techniques that will almost immediately correct any unwanted behavior in your dog. The basis of this video is learning the "The Process of Subordination." The information will give you the basis behind EVERY behavior problem a dog and owner may suffer from. The most serious problem a dog can have is Aggression, and the only way to ensure that your dog will not bite, is to take them through the Process of Subordination.  Ramona Redmond, renowned Animal Behavior Therapist, soon to appear on Animal Planet, presents her Miracle Methods video. The video is one full hour packed with extremely effective techniques. This video will give you the techniques to correct ANY behavior problem or issue you may be experiencing with your dog; aggression, hyperactivity, door charging, leash pulling, etc. This unique, highly effective, scientific approach developed by Ms. Redmond gives immediate results with even difficult to correct dogs of any age or breed.


My rating: training and exercising your dog: (4), training ourselves: (4)

9 comments:

  1. Very interesting article. As a speech therapist,I have to work with children who have behavioral problems,that makes this post even more interesting. Thanks for the valuable facts!

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  2. Hi
    very interesting to read. We have a German Shepherd who actually turns 3 today. We too are at our wits end. I was wondering if she was ADHD or hyperactive until I read this. Now I think she falls mainly into the hyper reactive category. She she was 4 months old she reacts aggressively to certain situations. She is not a dominant dog and is probably showing a fear thing. But she is constantly on the move, sleeps very little and breathes really fast all the time
    she is really loving and gentle around the family but we can never predict what she will do in others circumstances as she does not always react the same way twice. She is the third GSD we have owned and to be honest I would say it is a brain issue not a training issue. We really don't knowwhat to do. We can't take her anywhere there are dogs and we are practically housebound with her because we can't leave her alone to fester.

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  3. More often than not my three year old female German Shepherd, Angelina, is acceptable. But when she acts badly she borderlines hysteria. I would LOVE to know if there is a mild sedative available for her to take daily so as to prevent these wild episodes of bad behavior. We live on a horse farm and she is disrespectful to the horses, invading their space, nipping their heels to make them run so she can give chase, even getting kicked. She has no fear and insists on being the closest one to me of the three German Shepherds I own. Whew! I can't imagine giving her up because no one could ever survive her lack of respect. Her devotion is strong. Her minding is atrocious.

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  4. I'm telling you, it sounds like you own my "Bu's" litter sister. They don't listen at all and act like the world revolves around them. My girl tells me off by barking at me. It's like she's saying I have some nerve yelling at her when she's bad.......which is everyday~! I don't know of anything to calm them down. You could talk to your vet about it or do some research on your own on the internet.....but never give her anything without your vets OK! Good luck and let me know if you find a miracle for her!!!

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  5. Same here! I bought a GSD off of a client of mines and have had her since she was 10 weeks old. She drives my two labs crazy and is so hopped up and hyperactive, she is bouncing off the walls and pacing, even at midnight. I can feel her little heart when I try to hold her still and she can't even handle this for 10 seconds. Its like she is on speed? I looked into Prozac, but understand that this is more for aggression, which she is not yet, thank God. Perhaps Adderall, like this article states? I take her for out walks and she has a big back yard, but this is not enough? She is digging holes and tearing things up, when she is not fighting with my labs.

    Thinking about selling her already, unless I can get this behavior under control.

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  6. we have 1 1/2 yeqar old female german shepherd who is driving me nuts. she tears everything up, chews any shue she can get a hold of. she spins around like a whirlwind when she goes outside. Now she is dog and people agressive . I am at my wits end. she tears the bed right from under our newfie who is so calm and sweet. My gsd is crazy. when it is raining she runs around on circles . she is so fixsated on water she gets exsausted from runnibg in circles. I dont know what to do with her anymore.

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  7. It's probably in her genetics. My girl that I wrote about above is still hyperactive. She's like one of those wind up dolls.....or an Ever Ready battery. Some kids and adults as well have this so I guess some of our dogs can have it as well. You've just constantly have to be on top of her with training, training and more training. Good luck!

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  8. thank you. I forgot to mention that she got that high pitched bark,that sounds like a screem when she tries to get after another dog.she does not listen when i want her to come in. When 2 days ago a friend came in to the house and she tried to attack him even though she knew him. And the same with the mailman. She always was friendly with him and let him pet her. But now she turns on him as soon as he walks away. I am afraid now to walk her since she tries to attack cars also We had a german shepherd before he was a couch potato. we got him from a local breeder. But Izzy my crazy dog she is hard to handle now .Is there any hope for her to get better? I got her over the Internet and i will never do that again

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  9. The only other thing that I can think to suggest is to contact a trainer or a behavior specialist for animals. If you have money (??) contact "The Dog Whisperer".......he says there's no dog that he can't handle.

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