If you are an experienced dog owner, you might probably know the frustration and struggle of handling an overly joyous and excited dog. It just seems like someone has cast an unbreakable spell of hyperactivity on them. While most dogs are susceptible to timely hyper-activeness, others might be the victim of hyperactivity disorder known as ADHD.
Till now, you might have always heard of ADHD in humans. It’s natural for you to ask, “Can dogs get ADHD?”
Though the condition is very uncommon in them, dogs can actually have ADHD. But, it should not be misunderstood and judged quickly. Some pooches act hyperactive thinking that they’ll get acknowledgment and attention from their owners. So, don’t be worried soon enough without proper validation from your vet.
What Is ADHD?
ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) is a neurological disorder that affects the brain and causes hyperactivity, restlessness, and over-excitement. People and animals suffering from ADHD are commonly described as the “Energizer bunny” because they just keep on going and doing things without realizing what they’re doing. There is a dog version of this condition and it goes by the name canine ADHD.
Understanding Normal “Dog” Behavior
Dogs love recreational activities that utilize their energy level and make them happy to their heart’s content. One thing to remember is that no two dogs are alike. So, some dogs naturally have a lot of energy while other dogs are couch potatoes and enjoy hanging out on their own. This is entirely based on the dog’s personality, mental health, and most importantly, their breed.
Here are some of the most common dog breeds that have a huge powerhouse for energy:
- Belgian Malinois
- Golden Retriever
- Russell Terrier
- Siberian Husky
- Australian Shepherd
- Bull Terrier Breeds
- Border Collie
Now before you go on comparing your dog with your neighbor’s dog, consider this example. Border Collies are dogs with naturally higher energy levels than Basset Hounds. So, it is totally unfair to compare a Border collie with a Basset hound and call them hyperactive.
Speaking of normal behavior, the desire for their owner’s attention mixed with a high metabolic rate causes them to go hyperactive. This isn’t uncommon. In fact, just like humans, dogs have an equally higher level of excitement when they see someone or something that they love. When pups are left alone for a long period of time, they’ll seek attention and mental stimulation to alleviate their boredom.
Some of those stimulations lead to unwanted behaviors like:
- Excessive Barking
- Destroying objects
But these activities do not necessarily suggest that your dog must be suffering from canine ADHD. With little care and persistent training, most of these behaviors are easily remedied.
Typical Signs of Canine ADHD
Canine ADHD manifests almost every trait as ADHD in humans and some of the easiest, obvious signs that dogs with this disorder show are:
- Extreme restlessness
- Easily startled by noises
- Even with adequate mental stimulation, they might seem out of control.
- Trouble in sleeping or sleeping only for brief periods of time
- Constant desire to play
If you notice most of these behaviors then you ought to seek professional help immediately and contact your veterinarian.
You might also be interested in Can Dogs Get Dementia?
Growing Stage Hyperactivity
It’s not uncommon for hyperactive canine behavior to be a result of youth. Puppies are naturally lively and energetic creatures, full of curiosity and happiness. Their energy levels, on the other hand, tend to dwindle over time. Appropriate training can also be beneficial. It’s a good idea to look into the situation if your pet is older than 6 to 9 months and still has the same high level of energy as before. If your dog is no longer a puppy but continues to ignore your commands, mouthing and barking all day, they might have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Attention Seeking Dogs
Dogs learn to behave in almost any possible way if they are rewarded. If you pay attention to a dog only when they are barking, jumping, or otherwise being a nuisance, that’s the kind of behavior you’re going to encourage. Unknowingly, you reinforce unwanted behaviors from your dog. Any attention is better than no attention to some dogs, so even a little attention can encourage them to perform unwanted behaviors like chewing, stealing, and soiling. As a starting point, make sure you pay attention to your dog only when it’s good and ignore them when it’s wrong.
My Dog Has ADHD, What Now?
If your veterinarian verifies that your pup has ADHD, then it’s time for you to make a plan to help your dog become a normal household friend.
Here are 3 major things you can do to help your dog with canine ADHD:
It can be a little challenging to train a dog with ADHD, but with strong willpower, everything is possible. Start off with basic commands like sit, stay, come, and no. They will likely take longer to understand and cooperate but don’t give up until they learn it.
Behavioral training is the basis for activities. After your dog learns basic commands, move on to herding classes, agility work, and sniff schooling for scent dogs. These classes can benefit a lot for you and your dog.
2. Socialization And Playmates
Dogs with ADHD are often confined just to keep them from being obnoxious and violent around other dogs. But social isolation instead increases the problem. When ADHD dogs are allowed out around people and pets after confinement, they’re too much to handle.
Instead try socializing them, take them to dog parks where everyone is neutral to their territory. Keep them on a leash and allow them to roam, run and play with other dogs. Social interactions also provide an opportunity for more pet exercises, and just getting out sniffing the world does a lot for mental stimulation needs.
3. Medications And Supplements
Dogs with canine ADHD can be given dog Ritalin just like the ones given to human patients with ADHD. Ritalin is a stimulant that has a very calming effect on a dog’s mind and decreases hyperactivity. Medicines such as Ritalin stimulate and enable the mind regions to help a dog properly concentrate.
Some of the supplements that you can provide them are Valerian, GABA, CBD oil, and L-Theanine. These all provide a calming effect and help your dog to relax. If you really want to try non-prescription medications, you might consider contacting a holistic veterinarian.
Well, if you diagnose your dog with canine ADHD, don’t worry, contact your vet and they’ll help you in the best ways possible. Your dog will need a team of professionals to help them get better. Your vet and dog trainer can be your best resources to develop a perfect combination of treatment, training, and supplements in order to develop the right coping skills.
Thank you for reading the article.
Now that you know whether dogs can get ADHD, explore more other dog health-related articles you might be interested in.
Is your dog hyperenergetic? How do you cope with their restlessness? Do you take any measures to balance their energy levels? We would love to hear from you. Please share with our community by leaving a comment below!