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My Poodle is Hyper

Poodle Question: 

I know it's normal for a puppy to be hyper, but my Poodle, Dolce, is almost 2 years old and is extremely hyper. She just won't calm down. 

She seems very agitated and restless. Could this be a medical problem? What can I do to help? ~ Grace


Hi Grace. While it is rare, dogs can be clinically hyperactive. There is a test that can be performed to find out that involves the veterinarian administering amphetamine and carefully checking the dog's heart rate before and afterward. 

If a dog is found to be clinically hyperactive, Ritalin can be given. It is a stimulant that has reverse effects in both children and canines, acting as a calming agent.

However, most dogs that behave hyper are not clinically hyperactive. 

In regard to other medical issues, yes there is always a chance that your Poodle is experiencing some sort of discomfort that is keeping her from being able to rest and feel at peace.  For this reason, it would be wise to have her checked for any possible issues with a full physical and some blood work.

If she is medically cleared, it will be time to look to other causes.  

A lack of exercise and stimulation (both mentally and physically) is often the cause. 
hyper Poodle
For those who live in areas in which there are long, cold wintry months, there is always an increase in dog owners who wonder why their dog is so hyper. And this can be directly related to a decrease in exercise due to the weather. 

There are several things that you can do to exercise your Poodle's mind and body and put the hyper behavior to rest.

1. You will want to be as calm as possible. 

Poodles are usually very sensitive to their owners moods. If an owner shows frustration or anger, their dog will usually act more hyper.

2. Offer some great interactive dog toys to your Poodle. These toys hold treats and your Poodle will need to work to get those yummy rewards. This can keep a Poodle busy for quite some time and the mental focus that is required to reach the goal, works well to calm a hyper dog. 

3. Daily walks are important, but if weather limits those walks it is important to still provide indoor exercise. In addition, even with daily walks, a good 15-20 minutes of extra play time can help a hyper dog to release energy. One game that dogs love is very easy to set up. 

All you need to do is have some sort of stick, we have used everything from a sawed down broom stick to a plunger stick. Tie a rope to one end of the stick and tie a toy to the other end of the rope. With minimal exercise for the owner, a Poodle can jump and run around as they are "teased" with the toy and exert quite a bit of energy. 

4. Obedience Training. Take the opportunity to train your Poodle while providing exercise. This should not be done instead of exercise, but rather as a separate time during the day.

You can use this opportunity to go outside, if the weather is appropriate, or you can do this inside if the weather is not cooperating. Whether you teach your Poodle to play fetch or to heel, this is another good 20-30 minutes that will have your dog moving around, exerting energy. We do highly suggest saving obedience training for a later part of the day, once your Poodle has already had his or her walk. In this way, your puppy or dog will be much more able to focus.

5. Free walking. Aside from "normal" walks in which an owner should be adhering to giving "heeling" commands, free walking is an activity for both owner and Poodle to bond and to have fun. This can be at a dog park or a quiet hiking trail. 

Parks and trails will have different rules, such as "leash on" or "leash off" and you must find the ones that best fit your Poodle's level of obedience. 

Going for hike will not be much fun if you spend your time yelling for your Poodle to come back to you. However, if your Poodle fully understands "Come" and won't wander far, this can be a great way of allowing your Poodle some freedom, being able to experience different sights and smells... all while having some exercise and again, exerting exercise.

If your puppy or dog needs leash control, you can still have a great time on a hike that fits your Poodle's activity needs.

A Final WordDo keep in mind how much exercise your Poodle can handle. While you want to offer enough activities and exercise during the day to allow your pup or dog to not have "pent up energy", you also do not want to overwhelm your dog with too much. A Toy Poodle or a Miniature, after the age of 4 months, can handle a good walk and obedience training and some indoor exercise each day... with perhaps a nice hike 1 or 2 times per month. A Standard Poodle can handle a bit more. 

Before you exercise, be sure to offer water and take breaks to offer water during exercise. If your Poodle is panting too hard or keeps sitting or laying down, your pup or dog is trying to tell you that they need to rest. 

If you do not have time during the day to offer more exercise for your Poodle, do keep in mind that hiring a dog walker may be well worth it, to keep your Poodle happy and healthy. Dog walkers can be anyone whom you trust. In today's economy, many trustworthy teenagers, or even an adult who is out of work, would appreciate being offered the opportunity. 

The average price for having a dog walker spend an hour doing activities with your Poodle is about $10 USD. Even having this 2 times per week, plus the additional activities you will be able to offer on the weekend can greatly help.
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