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Hyper Active Dog, Anxious Dog – Heightened Sensitivity

My highly sensitive very dear, sweet Boxer x Pit Bull boy Robbie –
who wasn’t so sweet when he arrived in my pack,
he was a badly misunderstood dog and an abused dog
All dogs are intelligent, sensitive beings, but some dogs have an even more acute sensitivity and intelligence – these dogs are what I call ‘Heightened Sensitivity’ Dogs (HSD) also termed ‘Hyper Sensitive’ Dogs (HSD).
 
Highly sensitive tends to be a term that has less negative connotations – at least in North America. Due to the increasingly high volume of children and dogs (in North America) diagnosed as ADHD (attention deficit, hyper-active disorder) the term ‘hyper sensitive’ tends to have a more negative connotation than the term ‘highly sensitive’.
 
It is my very firm belief – proven by the work that I do with such dogs – that dogs that are being diagnosed (by allopathic veterinarians) as ADHD are in fact not ADHD – they are instead HSD.
 
Heightened sensitivity dogs, like all dogs, need structure, adequate physical and mental exercise – no more or less so than any other dog. The HS dog does require that their human communicate with true clarity and they require a diet that supports optimal health as do all dogs. They do not require chemical-based medications such as Reconcile (Prozac for dogs).
 
Heightened sensitivity can be found in many species, including people. Such people are called HSP – highly sensitive people. 
 
Heightened sensitivity (HS) in both dogs and people can be an amazing gift and an asset that benefits the HS individual and others with whom they come into contact with. 
 
Heightened sensitivity can also led to problems when it is not recognized, understood and positively levereged.
 
I am an HSP and some of the dogs in my own pack are HSD. The attributes that come with HSP have allowed me to understand and work with people and their dogs to an extent that would not be possible if I were not HSP.  Had I not taken control of this ability, hypersensitivity could become a detriment rather than an asset – as over sensitivity can lead to flooding of  senses and result in anxiety. Just as a dog can become flooded by over-stimulation, resulting in a state of anxiety and distress.
 
HS dogs are amazing as they have the ability to learn and connect with people in a capacity that can exceed the capacity of other dogs. These type of dogs in particular offer a great gift to the human that is willing to learn from the dog…
 
As Edward Hoagland said
 
“In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely try to train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming partly a dog.” 
 
 
I work with many dogs that exhibit over-threshold behaviours yet when the dog is given the opportunity to be effectively, respectfully communicated with and directed in a truly logical and patient manner the dog will usually choose to accept the direction provided. Positive leveraging. 
 
The basis for my work with people and their dogs is teaching people to see what is really occurring and not what they assume is occurring, to teach them how to take positive control by communicating effectively, to teach them how to create a supportive structure for themselves and their dog(s). Real understanding, real control from a place of self-awareness, self-discipline, self-restraint and good communication – deliberately positive creators and communicators. 
 
As John Lubbock said “What we see mainly depends on what we look for”.
 
My experience working and living with dogs has shown me time and time again that dogs do exactly what their human tells them to do…the problem is that the human may have a very low level of self-awareness. So for example if you communicate to another human or a dog from a state of frustration, ire or anger what you get back usually reflects your own state.  When a human is emotional and reactive and they create emotion and reactivity in others. Pure logic – and dogs love logic even more than humans do becasue dogs are better communicators than most humans today. 
I cross-post so many beautiful dogs that are no different than my dear Boxer cross ‘Robbie’. Sensitive, intelligent dogs that end-up in high-kill ‘shelters’ because the dog’s people did not understand how to effectively communicate. So many wonderful souls lost to a death they did not deserve. 

So is Your Dog an HSD?

Hypersensitivity…
  • Is not a disorder;
  • Is not a disadvantage when recognized, and;
  • In fact it can be a valuable gift and advantage – which simply presents another layer of intelligence…for example:
  •  An HSP or HSD can quickly read the mood of another person (human/canine); can pick up the scent of illness, sense the onset of a seizure before it occurs, be extra attentive, etc.
Some signs that your dog (or you!) are hypersensitive are:

  •  Heightened levels of awareness/sensitivity to:
  • Physical stimuli, i.e. sound, sight, touch, smell ;
  • Emotional Stimuli, i.e. emotions of others;
  • Easily over-whelmed – ‘flooded’ by too much stimuli.
  • A person or dog that is hyper sensitive is more likely than a non HSP or HSD to suffer from:
  • Allergies, asthma, skin conditions such as eczema.   
Dogs that are HS may show acute signs of hyper-active behaviour if good leadership is lacking in the dog’s life.  
An HSD does not require more physical exercise than a non-HS dog;  
  • In-fact over stimulation with non-structured exercise will create more hyperactivity as the dog is not presented with the opportunity to reconnect with its natural inclination to relax and go into a calm and restful state.
The remedy is to provide:
  • The dog with the structure it needs to be a fulfilled well-adjusted being;
  • An equal balance between appropriate quantity of physical and psychological exercise;
An example of the positive attributes of HSP/HSD
I am an HSP…
  • I see my hypersensitivity as a great gift is it allows me to work with dogs and their humans in a manner that others cannot;
  • I can sense things that a non-HSP would not be able to sense;
  • I can alert to a person’s thoughts and read them as a dog does;
  • I can read/sense a dog more as another dog would;
  • I can from personal experience understand how a dog get’s flooded by stimuli;
  • I can sense and work intuitively to shift my methods in the most subtle of ways to better suit the individual dog.
If you want to see an example of: 
  • A hypersensitive dog;
  • The extreme damage that can be done to the dog in the absence of intelligent leadership, and;
  • The impact of giving that dog proper leadership; 
HS dogs offer the human the opportunity to learn and grow into a better human being. I learn from dogs everyday – each dog is an individual and each dog has something new to share with you…but that can only happen if you open your senses and expand your awareness.
 
Dogs are one of the few animals that have a simialr muscular facial structure to humans, dogs do smile and express many emotions in their facial expressions – dogs use all of there senses to communicate…when a human only uses their voice backed-up with unrestrained emotion your dog will listen to you and do exactly what you are telling them to do – be emotional and reactive. 

The last word of this article goes to George Bernard Shaw…

 “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place”.

About Karen

Dogs are my life, my work, my passion… I am a Dog Whisperer, Dog Behaviorist and Holistic Canine Wellness Adviser with a wealth of real-time, real-life experience living and working with dogs. For two and a half decades I have worked with and shared my life with dogs. My own dog pack is comprised of eleven dogs, various breeds and ages. I provide a full range of services including Obedience Training for puppies and dogs; canine Behavior Modification; canine Psychological Rehabilitation, specializing in assisting dogs that are experiencing extreme states of insecurity, anxiety and aggressive-reactive behavior; Diet, Nutrition and Wellness Advice and Plans for canines and felines…natural wisdom for you and your companion animal.

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14 comments

  1. I bought a male golden/ Lab retriever about 5 weeks ago named Tyson. Just a pup, he was 5 weeks old, and he’s gotten fairly big since then. About 15 pounds maybe. He’s a big oaf, very happy, clumsy, floppy and chewy. He’s doing well learning, knows how to sit, stay and give his paw.
    However, about a week ago I adopted a female Pitt bull/Lab named Brandy from a friend who would have otherwise had to surrender her. She’s a few weeks younger than Tyson by the looks of it. She’s different than him too. Very sweet, cautious, agile, and quick. My boyfriend somewhat worries about her being part Pitt. And worries that she seems to be nervous. We’re so against the stigma! And I doubt she’s mean, because we have a cat and while the cat is very irritated by her, Brandy gets very excited, down on her belly and gently tried to paw at the cat while play barking/whimpering and a mile a minute wagging tail. And she let’s my 3 year old son hug her and give kisses. It’s just when her and Tyson play it can get too rough. It escalates into loud barking, growling, and snarling. They’re still very young, I want to teach them now how to get along so we can keep her forever! She’s such a wonderful addition!
    Also, any advise on raising two puppies? Help! Lol

    • I offer behavior phone and skype sessions. If instead you are simply looking for free advice, you are welcome to read the many articles on my site regarding behavior and leadership.

  2. I have got a jack russel and a weimaraner cross with pitbull.everything was ok until the jack russel was sterilized.when the fights started and was being a regular thing i consulted the vet and he said i have to sterilize the pitbull as well.its always the jack russel starting the fights.after sterizing the dogs they have been fine for more the two years.went back to the vet told me i must change things that could be triggering it.i have changed everything i can think of but no luck.I dont know what to do.

    • The veterinarian is an ass – neutering does NOT stop dogs from fighting. Your dogs are NOT fighting becasue of a hormonal issue. You can book a phone session with me to get help resolving this.

  3. Hi I have 2 staffys 1 is 1 and half years old and 1 is 2 half year old they have had quite a few serious fights lately half the time over nothing they last few they have stopped by there selfs as one backs down but the other still wants to go they had one today outside which was quite bad the wouldn’t stop am just wondering what would help them stop this as I put them in there cages after a fight and don’t talk to them I don’t want to get rid of them but if they keep fighting a don’t know what else to do

  4. I had a pack of German shepherds and 1 Malinois they all lived peacefully for years. I came home to one of my shepherds being severely wounded. All the wounds were on his back and hind end as if he was trying to get away. I have no idea what prompted the attack. Now i m concerned leaving them together when I leave.. Any suggestions? Thank you

  5. I have 2 boxers one was a rescue. They get into fights every couple of months. They are big so thd fights get out of hand and are gard to stop. Most of thd time they are best friends. I’m not sure how to stop thus behavior. I gave a baby on the way and km worried about how they will react to it as well.

  6. I spoke with you several months ago about my HSD Alpine. When we spoke, I had only a glimpse of the degree of his sensitivity and underlying anxieties. A few weeks later, while home alone, he reacted to a rainstorm by trying to escape every door and window in my house and did a good bit of damage.
    Although on that day we felt ready to throw in the towel, we did not. ….we stayed the course and in fact started over to a certain degree because he was again afraid to be left alone.
    I planned my trips out around the weather but when I left I was calm and confident and he did fine.
    Now months later Alpine is virtually a new dog….relaxed and able to manage things that once scared him,.
    The other day he was home alone and it really rained…..as drove towards home admittedly I held my breath a little. When I walked in, he raised his head from his dog bed and stretched.
    I now come and go with relative ease and he is at ease. Success takes time but worth the effort.

    • Yes, I recall – we did a 2 hour session. Change takes time, as it is the person that first must have the time to build their skill As we discussed patience, persistence and good communication skills – it pays off! So glad to hear Alpine is doing much better due to your hard work and dedication!

  7. I think my boxer bitch is ‘very sensitive’ she will be happily playing with my boxer dog then suddenly turn on him, she is not great with dogs we meet while out although she was very well socialised as a pup, it all began when she had her first phantom pregnancy few years back. We had her spayed but the behaviour stayed the same. I use all the top tips for me to be pack leader but .know I must be going wrong somewhere.

  8. TY for this informative article. I am thinking of adopting a dog from a rescue centre described as “very sensitive” Having researched the term i was feeling very apprehensive and thinking maybe i was not up to offering such a problematic dog a good home. and yet something about him just clicked with me. Your positivity has encouraged me to visit him again and not give up.

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