More often than not, dogs suffer from a lack of stimulation. This boredom is the cause of many behavioral problems and the reason dog trainers are called in. To counteract this, owners will begin to provide more mental and physical stimulation. While this is good, it can also be overdone. Dogs can become overstimulated and this will lead to behavioral issues down the road as well. How can you tell if your dog is overstimulated? Consider these signs.
#1 – Hyperactivity
A bored dog and an overstimulated dog often look the same, believe it or not. In fact, hyperactivity is a sure sign that your dog might be experiencing sensory overload. Many dogs will start behaving somewhat erratically, running around and chewing or biting things they don’t normally show any interest in. It’s true that some dogs just get really happy and excited from time to time, but if your pooch constantly behaves this way you might want to consider toning down the stimuli.
#2 – Hiding
If your dog isn’t the social type, you might find that they are seeking somewhere to be alone when you have guests over. For example, your dog might try and hide in your room or under a bed when you’re having a dinner party rather than sit by the table and beg for scraps. Dogs will look for comfort when they are overstimulated and should be allowed somewhere to feel safe and secure away from the excitement. If you notice your dog hiding or sleeping in their crate, don’t try to coax them out. Just let them be.
#3 – Nipping & Biting
This can come from two main places. First, an overstimulated dog that is fearful and has nowhere to hide will often resort to aggression to keep people away. Your dog might not normally be aggressive, but if they feel overwhelmed and see no way to seek comfort they will work with the natural defenses that they have. On the other hand, dogs that are overly excited can also become quite mouthy and nippy. Dogs play bite each other regularly, so it makes sense that they’ll try to do the same to people – it’s how they naturally play. Unfortunately it’s not quite as comfortable for humans and even if your dog knows better, they might become so stimulated that they forget the house rules and start playing a little too rough.
#4 – Compulsive Behavior
As stated earlier, dogs that are overstimulated can become hyperactive and this hyperactivity presents a special set of symptoms. Compulsive behavior is a symptom that can be quite dangerous for you and your dog. Compulsive behaviors such as tail chasing, constant licking and spinning in circles is some of the more commonly seen acts. These can become very difficult habits to break once your dog becomes obsessive about them. While it’s normal for some puppies and dogs to chase their tails, you might notice that your dog does so constantly and needs you to stop them or they’ll keep going forever. This is a perfect example of a compulsive behavior and it’s not unheard of for dogs to actually injure themselves. If you notice anything your dog does becoming a compulsive habit, you’ll want to take a look at the rest of their environment and make sure you can stop the behavior before it becomes an issue.
Cover photo: Courtney McGough
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