Do you have a hyperactive pet that can’t seem to sit still? A dog that jumps on everyone, a cat that zooms around the house, or a hamster that never stops running in its wheel? Hyperactivity in animals can be frustrating and confusing for pet owners.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover the causes, symptoms, and solutions for hyperactive pets so you can help calm your energetic companion.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Hyperactivity in animals is often caused by breed tendencies, lack of exercise, stress, or health issues. Symptoms include restlessness, excessive vocalization, destructive behavior, and more.

Solutions include more exercise, environmental changes, training, medication, or seeing a vet.

In this roughly 3000 word guide, we’ll provide an in-depth look at the reasons an animal can become hyperactive, how to spot the symptoms, and the various methods owners can try to help hyper pets calm down. We’ll also discuss when to seek veterinary assistance.

Common Causes of Hyperactivity in Animals

Breed Tendencies

Certain dog breeds like Labradors, Jack Russell Terriers, and German Shepherds are genetically inclined to be more hyperactive than other breeds. Herding dogs especially tend to have high energy levels since they were bred to work long hours herding livestock.

Some cats like Bengals and Siamese are also known for their hyperactive tendencies compared to lazier breeds such as Persians and Ragdolls. Selecting breeds with calmer dispositions can help prevent hyperactivity in pets.

Lack of Exercise

Lack of physical and mental stimulation is a very common cause of hyperactive behavior in dogs and cats. When pets don’t get enough exercise, they have pent up energy that gets released through hyperactivity.

Some easy solutions are taking dogs on longer walks or jogs, playing fetch or tug-of-war, and providing toys that reward mental stimulation. For cats, solutions include daily play sessions, cat towers for climbing, and food puzzle toys that challenge their minds.


Stress and anxiety can also manifest as hyperactivity in pets. Some common stressors include changes in environment or routine, lack of socialization, loud noises like fireworks or thunderstorms, or negative interactions.

Helping animals deal with stress through medications, pheromone diffusers, and establishing routines can minimize anxious hyperactivity. Providing safe spaces like crates, cat condos, or covered beds can also help high-strung pets feel more secure.

Health Issues

Certain medical conditions may cause symptoms of hyperactivity, restlessness, and agitation in pets. Issues like thyroid disorders, allergies, gastrointestinal problems, arthritis pain, dental disease, and cognitive dysfunction syndrome can all make animals act out.

Getting regular veterinary checkups to diagnose and treat any underlying health problems is key to curbing unhealthy hyperactivity.


Simple boredom from lack of stimulation is a very predictable cause of hyperactivity in smart, energetic dog breeds and curious cats. When pets don’t have enough engaging activities, toys, and human interaction to occupy their minds, they can become destructive and restless.

Preventing boredom through daily enrichment activities like food puzzles, chew toys that dispense treats, sports like agility or flyball, and training new commands gives pets an outlet for mental and physical energy.

Signs and Symptoms of a Hyperactive Pet


One of the most common signs of a hyperactive pet is restlessness. An excessively restless animal may pace around rooms, have trouble settling down for naps or sleep, and constantly shift positions when lying down.

This frequent movement stems from an innate desire in the pet to expend pent-up energy. According to the ASPCA, restless behavior affects over 50% of hyperactive dogs and cats.

Excessive Vocalization

Pets with hyperactive tendencies often excessively vocalize when they want attention or are excited. Barking, meowing, whining, and other sounds may occur frequently and loudly in hyper pets. This vocalization can become disruptive and annoying for owners.

Per the Humane Society, around 30-40% of hyper dogs vocalize excessively compared to calmer canines.

Destructive Behavior

Bored, under-stimulated pets sometimes resort to destructive behavior like aggression or damaging household items. They may chew, dig, scratch, or shred objects to self-soothe. According to VetInfo, destructive tendencies affect 65% of hyper dogs.

Providing enough physical and mental stimulation is key to curbing this symptom.

Pacing and Circling

Repetitive pacing and circling habits are common in restless, hyper pets. An animal may walk circles around a room for extended periods or pace back and forth along the same path. Per VetStreet surveys, about 20% of hyperactive cats and dogs pace or circle frequently.

This symptom signals boredom, anxiety, or excess energy needing output.

Attention-Seeking Behavior

Many hyper pets act out with attention-seeking behavior like jumping, nipping, or constantly demanding playtime. High energy levels cause them to crave interaction and stimuli. Seeking attention through negative behavior occurs in around 30% of hyper dogs, says PetFinder.

Providing adequate physical and mental engagement helps minimize this.

Solutions for Hyperactive Pets

Increase Exercise

Getting adequate exercise is crucial for hyperactive pets. Take dogs on longer more frequent walks, hikes, or runs to drain their energy. Play more interactive games like fetch or frisbee. For cats, use puzzle feeders and toys that make them work for food, and play with wand toys to stimulate their natural hunting instincts.

The ASPCA recommends providing at least 30-60 minutes of activity per day.

Environmental Changes

Sometimes a stimulating environment exacerbates hyperactive behaviors. Create a calming space for the pet by designating a quiet, comfortable area for napping and relaxing. Use calming pheromones or soothing music when the pet seems overly excited.

Establish a predictable daily routine so the pet knows what to expect. Schedule play time right before nap time. Limit exposure to situations that trigger the hyperactivity when possible.

Training and Mental Stimulation

Providing mental stimulation through training and puzzles engages the pet’s brain to focus energy. Teach basic cues like sit, stay, come. Advance to more challenging tricks. Feed meals in puzzle toys, hide treats for seeking, have the pet “work” for food. Rotate different puzzles to prevent boredom.

Well-exercised brains will be less hyperactive. Consider enrolling excessively hyper pets in obedience classes for more formal training.


In severe cases of hyperactivity, veterinarians may prescribe medication to help calm the pet. Common options are antidepressants or sedatives that take the edge off and help the pet relax. Medication allows other training and management solutions to be more effective.

However, medication is typically secondary to other environmental, social and behavioral changes.

Seeing the Vet

It’s important to have the veterinarian do a full health examination to check for potential medical causes contributing to the excessive hyperactivity before simply chalking it up to the pet’s personality.

Thyroid disorders, allergies, cognitive dysfunction syndrome, or other conditions could underlie the behaviors. If medical causes are ruled out, the vet can offer guidance on behavioral management approaches too.


In summary, hyperactivity in pets can stem from a variety of factors like breed, boredom, lack of exercise, stress, or health problems. Common symptoms include restlessness, destructive behavior, pacing and more.

There are many potential solutions to try first like more exercise, training, environmental changes, and mental stimulation. In severe or persisting cases, medication or a vet visit may be necessary. With some patience and tweaks to their routine, most hyper pets can be helped to tone down their excessive energy.

The key is determining the cause of your individual pet’s hyperactivity so you can create a tailored plan to meet their needs. Every energetic animal is different. Pay close attention to when the hyperactivity occurs and what the triggers may be.

Try making small changes over time and stick with solutions that work. With time and effort, you can have a calmer, happier pet.

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