Calming high-energy, excitable, rowdy dogs can be a challenge. Fortunately, many respond quite well to the balancing action of flower remedies. Discover which flower essence blends work best to improve calm and control in hyper, high-strung dogs, and find practical tips for living and working successfully with this kind of dog.
Your dog has more energy than you know what to do with. He’s wild; he’s obnoxious; he can’t settle down! And you are frustrated. Is he crazy? belligerent? ADHD? a "bad dog"?
- You’ve tried CBD oil and herbal calming treats and aids. Your dog’s not any calmer, but you’re now qualified to teach a class in Herbology at your local community college.
- Extreme exercise hasn’t help. You now have a very fit, hyper, uncontrollable dog.
- You have a kitchen drawerful of quick-fix training devices. And those “alpha” techniques you were told to try…. Well, we won’t go there.
- You are THIS close to asking your vet to prescribe drugs to calm your dog the heck down (or you already have and don’t like the side effects).
Let me say, I sympathize. As a professional dog trainer, I’ve worked with my share of “wild child” dogs. And I’m going to suggest something that might surprise you.
"Flower essences, you say? That sounds pretty delicate. I need something serious! Can flower essences actually help?"
In a word - yes.
Flower essences gently re-adjust emotional states that have gotten extreme or “off balance”. They won’t sedate your dog or reduce his need for adequate physical and mental exercise. But they can help level out and take the edge off extreme behavior in hyper-active, wired, constantly “on the go” dogs. They can help your dog be more cooperative, easier to work with, and mentally, physically calmer and more relaxed.
Kind of hard to argue with that, huh?
At Aldaron Essences, we have four flower essence combinations that are particularly successful for this kind of problem.
Why Flower Essences?
Flower essences are a natural subtle-energy therapy which is very useful in dog behavior modification. They are over-the-counter, with a long history of safe use, and maybe best of all – no scary side effects! Because flower essences work on a subtle-energy level rather than a biochemical one, you can feel at ease if you need to use them alongside other supplements or medications.
Natural Support for Calm in Dogs
When addressing hyper behavior in dogs, think “big picture” rather than “silver bullet”. In other words, think holistically! This means that flower essences, like any therapy, should be thought of as a supportive tool; they should be part of an overall plan to address the problem. That plan should include some fundamentals (just below), as well as specific things depending on what "type of hyper" your dog is.
Fundamentals Every Hyper Dog Should Have:
- Optimal diet. Hunger tension, poor quality ingredients, food intolerances, too little animal protein, gluten, and other dietary factors can lead to hyper-active behavior and poor impulse control in dogs. If you suspect food intolerance and are having trouble discovering the source of the problem with elimination diets, consider Nutriscan, a saliva test you can send in by mail.
- A healthy level of physical exercise. This means adequate but not excessive. What is “adequate”? Depends on the dog, its breed and genetics. A field-bred Labrador will need more exercise to stay even-keeled than a show-bred Lab. An Irish Setter is likely to need more running time than a Cockapoo. Etc.
- A variety of mental stimulation. Adequate here also depends on the dog. Breeds developed to do a job tend to have greater need for regular brainwork. There will also be quite a bit of individual variation in needs. (Know your dog!)
- Self control and relaxation skills. All dogs, and especially hyper dogs, need to learn impulse control and how to relax when appropriate. For many dogs, these are skills that must be learned, then practiced regularly. Expect to spend time working on these skills!
- Rest, down time, and quiet time. You wouldn’t expect a child exposed to constant frenetic activity to be able to settle easily. As the human, it’s our job to make sure our dogs get sufficient nerve-rejuvenating peace and quiet. This may mean reducing sources of over-stimulation and over-arousal in their environment. This definitely means ensuring your dog gets quiet, restful sleep, unbothered by things going on. Schedule it if necessary! Just make sure it happens. And time to get out, burn off, and just “be a dog”? This, too, needs to happen on some kind of regular basis.
Medical Considerations for Hyperactive Dogs
If your dog’s behavior seems extreme or doesn’t respond to your efforts to meet his needs, consider a thorough medical checkup. This is more than a quick annual exam. Your vet may wish to do bloodwork, a thyroid function test, etc. Make sure your vet or other wellness professional is able to evaluate your dog’s structure and soundness to identify any possible pain or discomfort issues, which can aggravate hyper-active behavior.
4 types of hyper dogs (and the Bach flower blends to help them)
1. Over-stimulated, over-aroused dogs that can’t think calmly
Our flower essence formula for this type of dog is Hyper-Drive. The Hyper-Drive dog gets over-stimulated easily by his environment, or lives, trains, or works in highly stimulating or chaotic surroundings.
Hyper-Drive is the perfect flower essence formula to help:
- high-energy dogs needing to learn to be calm around active children or exciting events ("walkies!" "obedience class!" "dinner!" :-))
- dogs that get overly wound up with activity at the dog park, daycare, or when visitors arrive.
- agility and herding dogs that get too amped to stay in control.
- hunting dogs that get too "high" on the line to listen to direction.
- performance or working dogs on sensory overload that either shut down or get "the zoomies" when working.
Hyper-Drive gently balances your dog's emotions to improve impulse control and increase patience. This special Bach flower blend restores the ability to think clearly and calmly in the face of distractions.
Results from Hyper-Drive users:
“… he stayed on track much better than he normally does...actually listening to his handler instead of plowing through the course like a bull in a china shop.”
“Since we started him on Hyper-Drive, he sleeps longer, his pre-meal sillies are a lot more controlled, and he's even stopped trying to mount his younger fur-siblings. This product has been great!”
“I have been using the Hyper-Drive spray formula for my very energetic pit bull mix for 2 weeks now … and the results are amazing! Within a few days we noticed he was better able to settle and focus on the training ... without a doubt Hyper-Drive has been an essential part of helping him transition from an erratic and out of control large puppy to an attentive and enjoyable companion. Thanks so much!!!”
Tips for living and working with easily over-stimulated dogs:
2. High energy, intense, strong-willed, blast-through-life dogs
Moderation flower essence blend is for the high-energy dog that tends to be pushy and bossy. His jumping is to get your attention, get you to do something, get a reaction out of you, entertain himself, etc. Moderation helps tone down bossiness and encourages self-control in too-intense, "over the top" dogs.
This intensity may be the dog's personality, or a passing phase. Boundary testing is a common stage for adolescent dogs to go through, especially in working or hunting breeds that need a job. They can become pushy, bossy, and challenging.
Moderation helps tone down and encourage self-control and moderation in too-intense, "over the top" dogs. It improves patience and cooperation, and enhances self control.
Moderation is an ideal blend of flower essences for:
- the intense, over the top, always "on a mission" dog.
- the dog that gets hyper, pushy, and demanding when he doesn't have your full attention.
- the "outta my way, comin' through!" dog that blasts through people and animals as if they're not there.
- the intense, always-on-the-job dog that patrols and keeps watch endlessly.
Moderation balances this type of dog to improve patience and cooperation, and reduce over-striving. It tones down the super-intensity, helping your dog be more relaxed, with better self-control.
Feedback from Moderation users:
“Angus is well behaved but would go puppy crazy around new people or when out in new situations. It would be puppy overload for his senses. We had two groups of company coming over two weekends recently. We chose to give him Moderation daily through this company, then go down to giving him dosages before an outing or visiting people while training. He was much more calm through the first visit and was surprisingly good through the second visit with small children. Angus still had some puppy enthusiasm going on but would listen to commands - something we couldn't get him to focus enough on during visits before.”
“I have an exuberant 5 year old golden retriever. She can't WAIT to get to people who want to pet her, or even neighbors stopping by to say hi. When we have guests, she is pushy (nudges with her nose, continually brings them toys) to get them to pet her. We have worked on this since she was a puppy, and she just can't get over her "excessive greeting disorder", as I call it. I had been using the Moderation formula for about 2 weeks when my sister-in-law came to stay for several days. There was a marked difference in my dog's pestering. She still sought out love, but less exuberantly, and less frequently. I'm liking what I'm seeing so far! Thanks Aldaron Essences!”
Tips for working and living with intense, energetic, strong-willed dogs:
- Basic obedience training is a must. This is simply teaching life skills and communication skills to your dog. Done kindly and consistently, obedience training can be a lifesaver for intense, energetic, strong-willed dogs.
- Structure is non-negotiable for this kind of dog. Structure means predictability, expectations, and rules. Be sure these are set up to work and make sense for your - and your dog's - personality, lifestyle and needs.
- This is frequently a dog that craves leadership. No, leadership is not "code" for bullying your dog. Good leaders inspire confidence and model calmness and poise. Strong-minded dogs require clear, consistent leaders.
- Responsibility – try to find ways your dog can be useful in your household. This dog wants to help!
- Play is excellent mental and physical exercise, and done properly, strengthens your bond and relationship overall. You are always training, including during play, so be sure you play in ways that do not undermine your rules and structure.
- It's not just about providing clear direction and rules, it's also critical that you follow through on your rules. Your dog will be only as consistent as you are.
- It's easy to get flustered with pushy, high-energy dogs, which makes communication even more important. Make sure you're communicating clearly and effectively with your dog, and not inadvertently encouraging the problem behavior. (Don't feel bad; it's easy to do.)
- Patience is the queen of virtues with an intense, highly active, pushy dog. While teaching your dog impulse control, realize that your dog may be frustrated, too. Dogs generally prefer to communicate their needs in a peaceful, cooperative manner once they understand how to do so.
3. Restless, always-moving dogs that can’t settle
Our Calm flower essence formula is helpful for the dog that tends to be restless, “on the go”, and lacking patience. This dog may plow through you, but more from impatience or lack of impulse control, than out of bossiness or a desire to control.
Calm, a combination of North American and Bach flower remedies, is the formula for reducing restlessness, agitation, or excessive nervous energy in stressed, high-strung, or under-worked dogs, as well as dogs recuperating from illness or surgery and dogs on exercise restriction.
What Calm users have to say:
“Before Calm, we couldn’t cut the high speed running and leaping as he’d be like an addict on speed, but now, each day he’s fine with some running at a normal dog speed, some jumping, a nice walk around the park, and playing with me the rest of the day by dropping balls in front of me or on my lap and I then gently toss them into his mouth. “Calm” might just be his life saver, and he is still a very happy boy, but now doesn’t act like he drinks 8 cans of Red Bull a day, only 2 cans, LOL.“
“… Without Aldaron Essences Calm for inside, I'd be visiting the local shrink for sure. It works great! I add it to their water bowl and wait for the calm to appear which takes about 2 minutes. Thanks Aldaron Essences.”
“I have a year old lab, he has a lot of energy. I started giving him a few drops a few times a day and after a few days I've noticed a definite improvement in his energy level!”
“I have used this product along with the Hyper-Drive to help my Belgian Malinois stay as calm as possible while recovering from her hip replacement surgery. They have both helped her (and me!) with her energy level. I don't know what I would do without these essences.”
Tips for supporting restless dogs with pent up nervous energy:
- Hunger tension is a common cause of hyper behavior in dogs. If your dog's behavior gets more unruly as mealtime approaches, it might be a hunger issue. Make sure your dog is getting adequate animal protein in his diet, and consider avoiding sugary carbs (such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc) that can cause uneven energy levels in some dogs.
- Physical discomfort and pain issues can bring on restlessness (and more serious behavior issues) in dogs. Your veterinarian should be able to evaluate your dog's level of physical comfort, or refer you to someone who can.
- Make sure your dog's exercise needs are met. If your dog is injured or on other exercise restriction, increase his level of brainwork. While mental work is not a substitute for physical exercise, it will help to satisfy, tire, and settle your dog.
- Enrichment adventures are both satisfying and settling. They should be part of every dog's repertoire!
- Not all dogs understand how to relax without being exhausted. Practicing relaxing may seem odd, but can be a very helpful skill for high-strung dogs. Dr. Karen Overall's Relaxation protocol is one well-regarded method for teaching dogs how to "take a breath".
- At-home enrichment exercises are a great way to keep high-energy, active dogs busy and out of trouble.
4. Dogs whose energy and attention is pulled every which way by overwhelming distractions in the environment
Focus is our flower essence blend for the dog that lives or works in an environment that pulls his attention this way and that, preventing him from settling and attending to the job at hand. This dog may be active but not hyper or high strung in general, and can have trouble filtering out exciting sights, sounds, and smells in their environment.
Focus uses Bach and North American flower remedies to reduce overwhelm and strengthen your dog's ability to tune out distractions and focus on the task at hand.
Feedback from Focus users:
“I use Focus for my senior dog that gets excited when my younger dogs are running around playing. It helps him focus on himself and not get caught up in the chaos. When they are running around he will come to me looking for it. He loves his; it helps him.”
“I use Focus especially for my young, sometimes reactive and hyper coonhound when participating in classes for agility and obedience. Definitely seems to help him.”
“We started giving him it twice a day for a week before starting to work him. When we give him the Focus we get 30 solid minutes of brain work. When we have missed days we are lucky to get 10 minutes. He is a smart boy, and thinks things through so we have to step up all our training and this has helped!”
Tips for living and working with dogs that lack focus:
- Focus is a skill that can be taught and practiced. Start out (like with any training) in quiet, non-distracting places and situations, then gradually add in distractions. There are two basic aspects to focus training. One is teaching your dog to focus on you. The other is teaching your dog how to focus on a specific task or lesson, rather than getting overwhelmed by all the goings-on around him.
- Dr. Karen Overall's Relaxation protocol can be used to teach calmness, which can ultimately help focus.
- Clear, consistent leadership can help the unfocused dog, as it takes the responsibility for responding to every distraction in the environment off the dog's shoulders.
- Mentally challenging exercises like target training, scent work, and brain games can go beyond satisfying your dog, and over time can actually help train your dog to learn to apply his mind to tasks more easily, rather than being pulled all over the place by environmental distractions.
- A dog that is not well-rested - physically or mentally - will have a harder time focusing. Make sure your dog gets adequate time to chill out and just be a dog, as well as scheduled downtime to fully rest.
- Finally, diet should be considered if your dog truly has long-term, persistent trouble focusing. I have seen dogs' ability to focus improve dramatically when taken off low-quality, budget kibble, for instance, and am sure there are other dietary factors that could contribute to this problem.
Though delicate-sounding, flower essences can be a powerful holistic tool for calming high-strung, excitable dogs. By balancing emotional extremes, flower essences restore calmness, control and cooperation. Which combination will be the most helpful just depends on how your dog expresses her natural high spirits. Over-aroused dogs with poor impulse control; intense, bossy, dogs that plow through life; high-strung, under-exercised dogs; dogs that have trouble focusing; each need a somewhat different “recipe”, but all can all benefit from the balancing action of flower essences.
So – train your dog. Experiment with activities and lifestyle changes to see what helps your dog be more relaxed and in control. And if you’re ready for a solid, all-natural nudge in the right direction, give Aldaron Essences a try.
Julie Cantrell BSc CDBC
Owner, Aldaron Essences LLC