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Do you believe your dog is “hyper” or “too active?” It’s one of the most commonly reported behavioral concerns of Canine Good Citizen (CGC) and AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy dog owners.

In most cases, the problem is really that the dog owner needs some education. The dog may also need a more suitable daily schedule and exercise plan. Here are some tips for the owner of an energetic dog that is hard to calm down.

Know Your Breed

“My dog is too active and won’t settle down at night when we watch television,” said one dog owner who called the CGC department. After asking some questions, we learned that the dog was a Border Collie whose owners worked all day. When they came home, they took the dog for a walk on a leash. Since Border Collies can run all day herding sheep, we helped the owner develop a more appropriate exercise plan for this active breed.

For active breeds, a walk on a leash may not do the trick. Consider playing fetch or other games in a fenced yard or dog park where the dog can run. If you’re away from home in the daytime for long periods of time, doggy daycare may be a suitable option for your dog.

Welsh Springer Spaniel fetching a toy.
©Eliška -

Provide Adequate Daily Exercise

In AKC S.T.A.R. Puppy, STAR is an acronym that stands for Socialization, Training, Activity, and Responsibility. Activity means exercise and in STAR classes, instructors talk to dog owners about their daily exercise plans for their puppies.

In the book, “AKC STAR Puppy: A Positive Behavioral Approach to Puppy Training,” CGC Evaluator Karen Vance describes how she had her students bring an exercise plan for their dogs to class. When Karen looked at the plan for a German Shepherd Dog who was jittery and couldn’t focus, she said a light bulb went off. She worked with the dog owners to modify the exercise plan. Within two weeks, the puppy was acting like a different dog.

Teach Practical Skills

Once you’ve met the exercise needs of an active dog, you can use functional CGC skills, such as sit, down and stay to manage your dog. When company comes and the dog can’t “settle,” a down-stay is often just what is needed to help the dog become calm.

Belgian Tervuren puppy standing on a path in the park.
©Eliška -

Give Your Dog a Job

In the case of the Border Collie above, increased exercise helped a lot. But active, smart breeds can also benefit from something to do on a regular basis that involves both physical and mental activity. Dog sports such as obedience, agility, and AKC Rally are a great way to provide physical and mental stimulation for active dogs.

Check In With Your Vet

If you’ve put an appropriate exercise plan in place for your dog and they continue to appear overactive, a veterinary check-up is in order. While most of the time, exercise, training, or activities are the issue, there are medical conditions that can cause hyperactivity. Your dog’s veterinarian can do a comprehensive medical exam to rule out any problems.

Related article: How to Be Patient With Your New Puppy
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Canine Good Citizen (CGC)

This program is recognized as the gold standard for dog behavior. In CGC, dogs who pass the 10 step CGC test can earn a certificate and/or the official AKC CGC title.
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