A nervous or “jumpy” and hyperactive dog is not a happy dog. Jumpy behavior is characterized by an overreaction to certain stimuli, typically due to fear and anxiety. Hyperactivity is characterized by excess energy. Hyperactivity can cause jumpiness and vice versa. You can help your dog get over these problems with play, training and counterconditioning.
Observe your dog over a period of days to determine the source of the jumpinesss. The doorbell or vacuum cleaner, for example, are common environmental causes.
Look out for signs of hearing and vision impairment. Dog trainer Cesar Millan recommends that you check your dog’s vision and hearing if he’s jumpy. If a dog is vision or hearing impaired, he will not notice people approaching and may become startled more easily. Consult your vet if you’re concerned. If your dog is suffering from hearing or vision problems, always approach him slowly, with heavy footsteps. This way he has more of a chance to hear you coming and may feel the vibrations on the floor before he sees you.
Expose the dog to the source of the jumpiness in a controlled situation. For example, if it’s the doorbell that makes him jumpy, put him on a leash and have a friend ring the bell.
Ignore your dog if he reacts in an anxious, jumpy manner. Your dog sees you as the leader, so if you’re cool with it, he’ll learn to be cool with it too. Repeated exposure to the bell will help desensitize him to the sound.
Reward passive calm behavior. Each time the bell rings and he doesn’t flinch, give him a food treat. This shows him that nice things happen when the bell rings.
Increase the amount of exercise you give your dog. A worn out dog is rarely hyper. Make the exercise mentally stimulating too, so his mind is as tired as his body. Tug-o-war, fetch and agility training all provide mental and physical stimulation.
Ignore the hyper behavior. The one thing that creates more hyper behavior is reward. If you attempt to comfort him when he’s bouncing off the walls, or even just shout him down, he’s getting attention. For some dogs, attention is enough reinforcement to make them repeat the behavior.
Adjust your habits and behavior. Dogs mirror the energy levels of those around them. If you’re a bundle of energy, he'll react with the same energy level. If you're sitting calmly, he'll follow your lead.
Simon Foden has been a freelance writer and editor since 1999. He began his writing career after graduating with a Bachelors of Arts degree in music from Salford University. He has contributed to and written for various magazines including "K9 Magazine" and "Pet Friendly Magazine." He has also written for Dogmagazine.net.