If your puppy won’t calm down, it’s likely because puppies are naturally little bundles of energy!
They could also be overly tired, not getting enough exercise, reacting to the environment around them, or dealing with a medical condition.
To calm your puppy down:
- Never punish your puppy
- Ensure they’re getting enough exercise
- Stimulate them mentally
- Engage their instincts
- Stay calm
- Provide a calm environment
- Play games together
- Contain them in a safe room or yard
- Train calm commands
- See a veterinarian if the behavior is abnormal
In this article, I’ll discuss all of these suggestions more in-depth and explain why your puppy might be acting too hyper.
I’ll tell you specific commands you can train your puppy to keep them calmer, how to keep your puppy calm when guests are over, and more!
Puppies are Naturally Hyper
Hyperactivity is normal for puppies. If you expect your puppy to always be calm, you should adjust your expectations.
Like children, puppies have short attention spans and lack the impulse control of adult dogs. This means they will jump around, want to play often, and might even act out in ways such as destructive chewing, excessive barking, or biting people.
While misbehavior shouldn’t be encouraged, it’s bound to happen as your puppy learns the rules of your home. They must be taught what to chew, for instance, or when it’s appropriate to bark.
Many people expect puppies to be calm before they’ve given them a true chance to get their energy out. This is neglectful, as you aren’t meeting your puppy’s exercise needs.
However, sometimes puppies get too wound up. This might result in misbehavior like I discussed above.
For example, maybe during play, your puppy gets overexcited and begins nipping at your hands instead of toys.
Or maybe when they’ve had plenty of exercise and are tired, they act out a bit to keep themselves awake.
During times like these, your puppy truly is too hyper and needs to calm down.
Don’t Punish your Puppy
Punishing a puppy for hyperactivity or even misbehavior doesn’t help. In fact, it may even make their behavior worse!
Some puppies think yelling is fun, and they might bark back or get even more hyper as a result.
Trying to punish or be the “alpha dog” to your pup often backfires as well. This can make puppies fearful of you, and they might become aggressive in an attempt to defend themselves.
In addition to being ineffective, these training methods are sometimes abusive.
Instead, use positive training methods. For instance, teach your puppy a calm command such as to be “quiet” when they’re barking.
When they do bark excessively, ignore them until they quiet down. Then reward your puppy and say “quiet” to show them the behavior you want.
Make sure they’re Getting Enough Exercise
If your puppy isn’t getting enough exercise, you can’t expect them to calm down! They still have too much pent-up energy inside of them, and it has to come out somehow.
Puppies often play or walk for shorter amounts of time than adult dogs. However, they will want exercise more often.
For instance, your puppy may only play for ten or fifteen minutes, but do so many times throughout the day. As they age into adulthood, they might transition into a long daily walk.
How much exercise your puppy needs depends on their age and breed.
Greyhounds, for instance, are built to sprint. They need plenty of exercise, but are content to laze around the house the rest of the day.
Pugs and other brachycephalic breeds (those with short muzzles) typically have a history as lap dogs, and thus need less exercise than dogs bred for hunting or other jobs. Strenuous exercise can also be dangerous for them due to their poor breeding.
If you don’t know how much exercise your puppy needs, or will need as they grow, speak to your veterinarian or someone else with breed experience, such as a reputable breeder or rescue worker.
You can also do your own research on your dog’s breed so you can provide for their needs as well as possible!
Stimulate them Mentally as well as Physically
Have you ever had a really busy day where you hardly had a chance to sit down, but when you get home your brain is still super active? This happens to me all of the time!
Something similar can also happen to our dogs.
It’s important that they get mental stimulation, meaning activities where they have to think, as well as physical stimulation (exercise).
Stimulate your dog’s brain using puzzle toys, games, or even canine sports! I’ll talk about all of these in more detail below.
Engage their Instincts
Typically, the best activities for your dog’s brain simulate their natural instincts. Games like fetch are great for this.
Hunting dogs might enjoy a game of hide and seek where they have to sniff around the house to find you, for example.
Sighthounds enjoy chasing after things that they can see, such as Frisbees or lures. Dogs that were bred to hunt in water, such as my Labrador Charlie, enjoy swimming and other water activities.
Find out what your dog was bred to do, and try to engage that instinct with fun games or puzzles!
A Calm Person Equals a Calm Puppy
It can be easy to get frustrated with your puppy when they’re hyper, and maybe even begin to scold or yell at them.
Or, maybe someone else in your household loves to rile your puppy up, and the puppy feeds off their energy!
The calmer you and others in your household are, the calmer your puppy will be. If they sense a lot of stress or energy in the house, they’re going to act on that.
You might notice your puppy is most hyper during stressful times for this reason. Or maybe they’re at their most hyper during high-energy times, such as when everyone’s running around in the morning getting ready for school and work or when guests are over.
When your puppy is being too hyper, take a few deep breaths and some space to calm yourself down. Return to them with a calm disposition, and they’ll be more likely to take your cue and calm down as well.
Reduce High-Energy Situations
When you want your puppy to be calm, you have to put them in a calm situation. Expecting a puppy to stay calm when guests are over, and everyone’s running around is a little like expecting a toddler to nap while the rest of the family is dancing around the house with music blasting!
Puppies will feed off of your energy, so they’re more likely to be calm if you’re chilling on the couch than if you’re racing around the back yard.
They’re also reactive to new environments, people, and animals. So, your puppy is more likely to be hyper when the mail carrier comes by, you have guests over, or you’ve brought them to a new place.
You can sometimes calm your puppy by removing what’s making them hyper. For instance, putting them in another room if they’re too wound up around guests or pulling the curtain so they can’t see every time people pass on the sidewalk.
Don’t punish your puppy for being hyper, though, and try to remember that if you always remove them from a situation, they’ll never learn how to deal with it properly.
For instance, if your puppy is jumping on your guests and getting too hyper, put them in another room to calm down for a few minutes. But unless it’s necessary, don’t lock them up the entire time.
Let them come out when they can more calmly meet your guests, or put them on a leash to contain them if you have to.
An example of a necessary time to put your puppy away when guests are over is if there are young children visiting and your puppy is jumping on or biting them, or even if the child is being too rough with your puppy.
Clearly this can’t be allowed, and it’s safer to just keep your puppy out of that situation, so no one gets hurt.
Play Games with Your Puppy
One of my dog’s favorite games is when I hide treats for him to find! This stimulates a dog’s hunting instincts and makes them use their great sense of smell.
Simply put your dog in another area and tell them to “stay.” If they try to peak, you might have to close the door or put them in their crate!
Hide some treats for them to find, then let them out to find them. At first, use strong-scented treats and hide a few in easy-to-find places. Over time, you can increase the difficulty.
This game especially awesome for scent hounds, but most dogs will enjoy it!
There are so many puzzle toys for dogs on the market! If you have a small dog, it’ll be even easier to find great puzzles for them to try.
Sometimes the toys require your dog to roll the toy to dispense treats, or slide panels to uncover them. Pick an easy one to begin with, and then you can find increasingly difficult puzzles as your puppy learns.
Remember to always supervise your pup with new toys. If the toy breaks in any way, take it away as this could be a choking hazard.
Hide and Seek
Hide and seek is just what it sounds like—the same game you likely played as a kid!
The difference here is that your puppy has a great sense of smell that they can use to track you.
To play hide and seek with your pup, tell them to “stay” or close them in a room or their crate. Then, tell them to “come find me!” or have another person open the door to let them start their search.
For some reason my dog Charlie doesn’t use his nose to track me, but his sight and hearing—it’s funny to watch him run all around searching!
At first, keep a strong-scented treat on you to keep the game easy as your puppy learns. Eventually, your puppy might be able to find you even when you don’t have a treat on hand.
Lastly, consider participating in ethical dog sports.
While some sports are unethical, such as Greyhound racing where the dogs are abused for profit, there are many ethical dog sports to participate in as well.
The key is to keep things fun and always use positive training methods for your pup. If they get tired of training or competing and don’t enjoy themselves, allow them to do other things instead.
Contain them in a Puppy-Safe Room
If your puppy is getting too hyped up, consider containing them in a puppy-safe room. Give them some toys and allow them to wear themselves out!
This will ensure they don’t break anything or hurt themselves, but they can still play freely and release all the energy they have built up.
If you have a fenced yard, you can also try letting your puppy run around outside for a while!
Leash Your Puppy
If your puppy won’t calm down around guests or other animals, put them on a leash. This will give you more control over your pup, which is especially important if they jump on people or bite when excited.
Especially when it comes to children or other animals, you can’t allow your puppy to jump up or bite. You also don’t want them chasing kids or other animals too much.
Allow your puppy off the leash after they calm down, or keep them on it the entire time depending on how they behave and your level of comfort with the situation.
Train Them to Obey Calm Commands
Training calm commands will help you to control your puppy when their energy gets out of hand. The command you use will vary depending on your puppy’s behavior, but below are some examples.
Remember not to train when your puppy is hyper. Instead, train these commands when they are at a relatively low energy level. Once they’ve learned a command, you can use it to calm them down during hyper times.
The Sit command is an Important one
“Sit” is a basic command that most dogs know. It’s also very helpful when trying to calm a puppy down!
When your puppy is bouncing around, “sit” can get them to sit down. It also helps them focus on something other than what they’re excited about.
Teach your puppy to sit by waiting until they do so naturally, saying “sit,” and giving them a treat so that they learn what the word means.
Alternatively, coax them into sitting by holding a treat in front of them and slowly moving it over their head. When done right, this will cause most dogs to sit in an attempt to reach the treat.
Reward them for sitting with the treat and lots of praise! Repeat until they can sit when told consistently.
Remember to use the command “sit” not “sit down,” as the former can be confused with “down” or “lie down” by your pup.
Also, never force your puppy into a sitting position. This can hurt or upset them.
“Down” is like sit. It’s a basic command your pup should master, and also helps to calm them when they’re bouncing about!
The “down” command teaches your puppy to lie down.
You can train it by waiting until your pup lies down naturally, saying “down,” and giving them a treat. Stand your puppy back up and wait for them to lie down again, repeating the process until they can lie down when told.
Alternatively, hold a treat up to your dog and then bring it down to the floor. Say “down” while doing this. Your dog will probably lie down naturally in order to get the treat.
Don’t ever force your puppy to lie down, but instead use the above methods to coax them into it instead. You want training to be a positive experience for them!
The Stay Command
“Stay” tells your dog to hold their position and stay where they’re at. Once they know how to sit or lie down on command, you can keep them sitting or lying for longer.
You shouldn’t expect your puppy to stay in place for long periods, but even a minute or so can give them time to calm down if they’re being too hyper.
Teach “stay” by telling your dog to “sit” or “down.” Then teach them a “release command” such as “okay.”
Do this by saying the release word each time you treat them for sitting or lying down. Your puppy should stand up and move when this command is given.
Make them hold their position for longer periods once they understand the release command.
Once they have the command down, you can begin to say “stay,” hold up your hand, and step away from your pup. Take one step at first, then step back, release, and treat.
Continue moving further away as your puppy’s training progresses.
Remember that puppies have short attention spans, so don’t expect too much of them. Your pup may only be able to sit still for a few minutes before they’re bored.
Work with what they can handle, and don’t scold them for not being able to stay in position as long as you’d like.
The Off Command, so They Get Off Something
The “off” command is for puppies who jump up on people when they’re excited. This tells them to get off of you or another person.
To train it, wait until your puppy jumps on you and say “off” while gently removing their paws. Give them a treat.
Repeat this until they get down on their own, and continue to treat them for doing so!
Alternatively, you can say “off” and treat your puppy when they are finished jumping up on you to show them what you want.
“Bed” or “Crate” Command, so They Go There
When you tell your puppy “bed” or “crate,” you want them to go to that area to calm down. You can then either let them decide how long to stay, or close either the crate or the door to the room where their bed is.
To train “crate,” you first need to crate train your puppy. Remember that the crate should always be a positive experience, so don’t yell at your puppy when you want them to go inside. Instead, use a normal or even a happy, high-pitched voice when giving the command.
When your puppy is first learning “crate” or “bed,” use a treat to lure them to that area. Once there, give them the treat for following you. Repeat this until your puppy no longer needs you to lead them to their crate or bed, but continue treating until they really have the command down.
At that point, you can begin to phase out the treats.
Adopt Another Puppy
This might seem counterproductive—you already have one hyper puppy; what will a second one do except double your work and headache?
Puppies benefit greatly from having another dog to interact with, though. Dogs are incredibly social animals. They learn from one another and help each other develop vital skills such as bite inhibition.
Your two puppies will also be able to play with one another, reducing the effort on your part. You’ll still have to play with them, but they’ll get out a lot of their energy without you having to lift a finger.
Of course, there are many factors that go into whether or not you can adopt a second dog. Maybe you truly don’t have the time or the budget.
If this is your situation, but you’d still like your puppy to be able to play with other dogs, try setting up a playdate with a friend’s pup or visiting a dog park.
If they’re Acting Abnormal, See a Veterinarian
If your puppy isn’t acting right or you think their hyperactivity is a sign of something deeper, trust your gut and make an appointment with your veterinarian.
Another time to see your veterinarian is if your puppy’s behavior has changed. If they’re normally laid-back and suddenly won’t calm down, that’s an indication that something could be wrong.
Watch for other symptoms and changes in behavior, and talk with your veterinarian about what you’ve noticed.
Hyperactivity in puppies is typically normal behavior, but it’s better to be safe if you’re concerned.
If the behavior is normal, your veterinarian may still have some training tips or be able to tell you if you’re exercising your puppy often enough.
Writer: Katelynn Sobus