My Dog Wants to Play All the Time: What Do I Do?
The majority of people find it enjoyable to play with dogs, especially their own. It’s a normal habit for dogs to be playful when interacting with others, especially young pups with lots of energy and a need for entertainment; it also provides an excellent chance for an owner to develop a strong relationship with their dog, too.
It’s crucial for a dog’s mental and emotional health to engage in recreational activities on a consistent basis. Depending on the intensity of the play, playtime may also provide a significant amount of physical exercise for a dog alongside their daily walks and other activities.
But when your dog wants to play all the time, what can you do to keep them more on the normal/moderate side if they just don’t want to stop?
A quick overview before we discuss these in more detail:
- Before buying your dog, consider its energy level and breed’s exercise requirements.
- Use calming supplements.
- Feed them a low-energy diet.
- Make your dog do some hard work.
These are just a few of the possible options if your dog is overly playful and you’re struggling to keep up with its boundless energy. No one wants to disappoint their pup, but sometimes a little bit of intervention is needed to help make raising and caring for your dog a bit more manageable. Read on to learn a bit more about how to plan for excessive playfulness ahead of time as well as how to calm your dog a few notches and keep your relationship fun and healthy.
Four Options for Controlling a Dog’s Excessive Playful Behavior
1. Begin first by choosing a low-energy dog breed
If you haven’t yet brought your new pup or adult dog home yet and are simply reading up on how to manage some possible behavioral situations, you’re ahead of the game and have the opportunity to do a bit more research before choosing a pup you may not be able to handle.
Keep in mind that every dog breed—as well as each particular dog itself—has its own energy levels and exercise requirements. Before adopting your new dog, you need to have a good idea of what to expect when it comes to their energy levels. For example, some breeds are more energetic/playful than others, whether these are high-strung toy breeds or simply large work dogs that need an outlet for all of their energy and intelligence every day. So, the first thing you will want to do is to select a more calm and low-energy dog, whether this is due to its age or its breed.
2. Use calming supplements
If you already have a dog and are struggling with its high energy levels, you can use calming supplements (either natural or artificial) to help lower their excessive energy levels. There are plenty of options available, but always consult your veterinarian before use if your dog has any allergies or sensitivities that may be affected by adding a supplement into its diet. CBD calming supplements are also an effective option in some cases but should be used with caution.
Note: Always consult your vet before giving CBD treats to your pets.
3. Feed them a low-energy diet
You can use a low-energy diet as well to try to help calm your dog, especially since a dog’s diet plays an important role in their energy level. Try to avoid feeding your dog a high-energy diet if it doesn’t actually need the extra nutrition and isn’t an intensely hardworking or outdoor dog; otherwise, your dog will feel energetic all the time, and this will likely lead to excessive playfulness.
Also, you may want to decrease the frequency of meals as well if they’re eating numerous meals and “recharging” regularly. Avoid giving your dog more than two meals a day unless they have a health condition that requires such feeding habits and this has been approved and recommended by your vet.
4. Make your dog burn off some of that energy
Lastly, you can try to make your dog do some hard work to burn off his or her extra energy. Having your dog engage in intense physical activity will burn off plenty of energy, anxiety, and any of those built-up zoomies they’ve been holding back and allow you to have a somewhat calmer and more lax dog with which to spend your time. Doing this regularly will eventually reduce your dog’s desire to play all the time as well.
If none of these methods seem to have any effect or improve your dog’s excessive amount of energy all the time, talk to your vet about the situation. Your dog’s personal veterinarian will be able to lend you advice on the issue as well as provide your dog with a checkup to ensure there are no underlying health problems contributing to the behavior.
Several Other Reasons Why a Dog Would Want to Play All of the Time
A dog’s excessive amount of playfulness can be attributed to a number of possible causes, and it’s important to identify that cause so you can begin helping your pup to properly calm down and not be so intense all of the time.
Some of these possible causes are as follows:
- Inadequate Exercise: Depending on your dog’s breed, it may require significantly more activity than it is currently receiving. When a dog’s exercise needs are not met, there is a resulting feeling of boredom and compulsive attention-seeking. This is a common reason for why dogs will bark a lot, be overly excitable, or even show aggression and frustration.
- Inadequate Attention: Your dog may also likely love playing all the time because you’re not paying him or her enough attention when you should be doing so. Your dog may simply be lonely or possibly even too attached, making it desperate for more interaction with you than would typically be reasonable.
- A Lack of Mental Stimulation: Your dog may require a significant amount of mental stimulation as well, depending upon its breed. To help stimulate your dog and keep it from being so bored, you may want to consider making him or her work for their food (by using things such as slow feeders or puzzle feeders), teaching them new tricks and behaviors, or even giving them a puzzle toy full of treats to keep them entertained for hours.
- Insecurity and Separation Anxiety: When it comes to dogs who seek out a lot of attention, they’re likely suffering from insecurity issues of some sort or struggling with separation anxiety. As a result, they may feel safer and more comfortable when they are in the company of their owner.
The Importance of Play
While some dog owners may not be concerned with their dog’s playful behavior, there are actually a number of advantages to having a lively dog or puppy, and playing with your canine companion serves as a significant part of your relationship together as well as maintaining your dog’s overall health.
- Playing provides dogs with mental stimulation as well as an outlet for their excess energy. Every dog has different mental and physical stimulation needs, but all pups and adult dogs need plenty of healthy interactions and outlets each day.
- Having fun with your dog is a terrific approach to strengthen your relationship with him. Dogs are social creatures and love every opportunity to bond with their favorite humans.
- Playing with your dog is a wonderful method to praise him for learning new abilities. Your dog will love the challenge of learning new tricks and skills, and he or she will love even more the fantastic reward of getting to play with you after doing the trick just right.
- It’s enjoyable to play! Just like human beings, a dog’s quality of life is improved by having us play with them and engaging in activities with them that they find enjoyable.
Patience is the most important and significant tool in your arsenal. When a dog first learns to trust its owners, it may still take some time for it to develop good social skills and even more time to master those skills and behave appropriately in a variety of stimulating situations.
Keep in mind that your purpose is not to encourage your dog to do everything it wants and accommodating its own preferences; rather, you are educating your pup or adult dog to interact with you according to the standards and expectations you wish to establish as its person and partner.
Why Do Dogs Seek Attention?
To know how to manage a dog that demands tons of attention, you must first determine why your dog is attempting to get your attention.
To start, be aware of the amount of daily activity your dog receives through walks and playtime and make sure that he or she is receiving enough exercise for their breed and personality requirements. All dogs require at least 20 to 30 minutes of walking each day, but larger and more energetic dogs require much more—they can need up to a few hours of exercise per day in certain situations.
Additionally, determine if you’re really spending enough time with your dog, petting him and just hanging out. Dogs are pack animals (those that coexist in groups) that require regular social interaction to be healthy and happy. Some dogs need a significant amount of mental stimulation, which can be provided through obedience training, trick training, or even structured activities such as dog agility.
How to Calm Down a Playful Dog
A high-energy dog will occasionally get energized and uncontrollably hyperactive. You may observe behaviors such as leaping frequently or racing around in circles or back and forth at high speeds. Given that some dog breeds are naturally high-energy animals, you may find yourself having to work with your pet throughout his or her life to manage this behavior.
Using Exercise to Calm Your Dog
- Take a long walk with your dog. You can help your dog burn off some of its excess energy by taking it on a long walk. Keep in mind that taking your dog for a short walk around the block will most likely not be enough to settle him down entirely. You will likely be required to walk with your pup for almost an hour or so. Additionally, you could also go running with your dog, if you are able to do so.
- Play ‘fetch’ or ‘hide & seek’ with your dog to keep him entertained. You can also play a game with your dog to help him burn off some of his excess energy. Spend some time with him in the backyard throwing his favorite ball or a Frisbee, or you can also have someone hold his leash or have him sit and wait (a great time to practice this skill!) while you hide a few goodies around the house and let him then go find them.
- Invite other dogs over for a play date, or take your dog to a nearby dog park to expend some energy. If your dog is well socialized and enjoys playing with other dogs, having some puppy pals over to play or making regular visits to the local dog park are excellent methods to help your dog expend some of his excess energy and keep him healthy. Ensure that the area where you will be taking your dog is properly fenced in and maintained, though.
- Consider enrolling your dog in doggy daycare to provide him with the exercise and stimulation required. If you work long hours, doggy daycare may be a convenient option for you to provide your dog with the exercise and stimulation he needs. Your dog will be able to run about and play all day to burn off some energy and then come home and relax with you at the end of the day. Consult with a doggy daycare provider in your area to determine if this is an option that would be beneficial in helping calm your dog down.
Using Training Techniques to Calm Your Dog
Aside from the numerous ways to burn off some of that energy, training your dog can also play a significant part in helping him or her learn to remain calm and practice some self control. Here are a few ways your dog can be encouraged to continue its good behaviors and limit or cease to engage in its hyperactive and intense behaviors:
- Positive reinforcement can be used to teach your dog to be calm. The use of positive reinforcement and treats can be an effective method of teaching your dog to remain calm. In the case of a dog that sits when you command him to do so, be sure to reward him with praise immediately following the command so that he understands he has done something right. Say something encouraging to him—such as “Good boy!”—and pet him or reward him for doing well.
- If your dog is very active and out of control, ignore him. Ignoring your dog is one of the most effective methods of calming him down. If your dog is too enthusiastic and out of control (barking, leaping, racing around, etc.), do not acknowledge or reward him for his behavior. When you ignore your dog’s behavior, you send him the message that you disapprove of his actions.
Some dogs may respond well to this approach since it is quick and effective, especially when they desperately want your attention and begin learning that wildness isn’t the way to get it. When your dog gets out of control, try the following suggestions the next time it happens:
- Do not make direct eye contact with your dog.
- Do not communicate with your dog.
- Do not pet or interact in any other way with your dog.
- Using a leash, you may be able to train your dog to be calm. If your dog is prone to leaping or rushing around the house, keeping him on a leash for a specific length of time each day may be beneficial. If you keep your dog close at hand, it will be easier for you to encourage good behavior and address poor conduct more quickly and successfully.
When your dog is at his most energetic, try to keep him on a leash for a while. For example, if your dog becomes overly enthusiastic when you have guests, you should consider keeping him on a leash when they come to visit to ensure obedience and be able to issue quick praise when your dog behaves calmly and appropriately.
- During play, take a moment to rest. Keep your dog from becoming overexcited by taking regular “time out” intervals during play. To do this, teach your dog to learn the “look” command, which should cause him to stop playing, look directly at you, and take a moment to settle down. This command will also be useful in numerous other situations for helping your dog return to a calmer state when overstimulated.
- Consider enrolling your dog in an obedience class. If your dog does not respond to your attempts at direction or is difficult to control, an obedience class could benefit both of you. A professional dog trainer can easily assist you in teaching your dog to obey your directions and to calm down when you require him to do so.
How to Keep a Calm and Relaxed Environment
You can maintain a calm and relaxed environment for both you and your dog by following some of these pointers:
- Provide your dog with a variety of toys, including chew toys. Having numerous toys available will encourage your dog to spend his energy on playing with those enticing toys rather than running around the house or indulging in other improper behaviors. Chew toys are particularly important since they prevent your dog from chewing on items that he shouldn’t be chewing on and also help dog’s de-stress from overstimulation, boredom, and/or anxiety. You can find a totally customized box of themed toys and treats on Barkbox.com
- Project a sense of security around your dog. Dogs are capable of picking up on your emotions and reflecting your energy. For example, if you are feeling nervous, your dog may pick up on it and become anxious as well. When you are with your dog, try to radiate a calm and good attitude to keep your dog from picking up on your bad feelings and responding accordingly.
- Install baby gates to keep your dog in less stimulating areas of the home. If your dog tends to jump from room to room or become excited when he stares out the front window, putting up baby gates may be beneficial in helping to keep your dog calm. By putting up gates around the home, you can keep your dog from wandering into sections of the house that may make him hyperactive.
How to Get Dog to Eat While Camping
Leaving a Dog in a Tent While Camping: Yes or No?
10 Best Dog Breeds for Frisbee (Read This First!)
Why Does My Dog Go Outside and Just Lie Down?
Family Dog Expert Author
Hi there! I’m Stuart, a devoted dog lover and family dog expert with over a decade of experience working with our furry companions. My passion for dogs drives me to share my knowledge and expertise, helping families build strong, loving bonds with their four-legged friends. When I’m not writing for SirDoggie, you’ll find me hiking, playing with my beautiful dog, or studying music.