Diet and Hyperactivity


Well-Known Member
I dont know if there is anyone on site to answer this question but I would definitely appreciate your opinions.

I have a 5 month old puppy who is totally hyperactive when we enter the hall for training classes. He doesnt listen to me at all and acts like I dont exist for the first 10 minutes. After this period of time he settles down and gives me full concentration. The trainers who take the classes are convinced he is hyperactive because of his diet but to be honest I have changed it a few times and it hasnt made one bit of difference. He is now on a non allergic mix of kibble but hates it and wont eat anything until he is starving. It is breaking my heart knowing how he gets no enjoyment from his meals - plus it hasnt helped his excited nature one bit. TBH I think it is because he is a puppy who never mixes with other dogs until class, but the trainers are convinced I am doing something to make him excitable, like giving him treats other than boring old kibble.

He was raised on a BARF diet which appeals to his appetite and appeals to me as I like to keep things natural.

I want to add too that at home he is a calm and well adjusted puppy who is no bother at all. He learns fast, he never barks without good reason and has chewed nothing more than a square inch of carpet in all the time I have had him. Quite honestly he is a model pup.

Please someone help and advise me before I lose my temper with all the dog experts at my training school.


Honored Member
Staff member
As far as I know protein is the only thing that might have an effect on his activity. But, the reality of the situation is....

You have a 5 month old labradoodle! Lol. They are extremely active puppies, extremely. I would think the BARF diet would be just fine for him, provided all the rations are right. Puppies who live without other dogs are bound to be unbelievably excited when they get to play with a bunch of other pups. Remember that your dog is a pack animal, and craves time with other dogs.

When his "pre-class" excitement kicks in, your job isn't to try to drill commands into him, but rather to become more exciting than all those puppies. This usually requires being noisy and looking like an idiot. You could perhaps ask one or more of the other class members to meet the two of you in the parking lot, fairly far away from the building you are training at. Let him socialize a little, but then get to work. Run through some tricks here--if he's not listening, either move further away from the other dog(which may mean going to the other side of the parking lot, just depends on the dog), or become really interesting. Squeakers, annoying voices, running away from him(keep a long leash in hand of course), anything to make him notice you. When he runs to you or pays attention to you, reward him heavily--lots of petting, lots of praise, some treats if you like. Work on getting a perfect "watch" command and "leave it" command. Remember that these have to improve slowly, so add distractions slowly.

My sister-in-law has a Lab mix who is an only dog---but she absolutely loves playing with other dogs. She's 3 now but she still gets uber-excited and kind of shuts off a little when she goes to a park with a bunch of dogs or takes a trip to Petsmart. (My sister-in-law hasn't worked with her, but she could easily learn to handle that shut-off switch if she did. You can too with Dude--he can learn to listen even in excitement-mode.) Almost every lab I've ever met really thrives on puppy play--there's the Lab in your Dude. But really puppies in general who don't get daily play with other puppies are going to be excited when they get to play with their buds.

If he is getting more protein than he needs, he will be a little overactive. But I really don't see that--you have a Labradoodle, and they are very, very active puppies. You have two active breeds who are generally very goofy pups. Don't lose your temper with your puppy---just get a little further away from the pups and give the both of you a break, even though class hasn't started yet. Don't be afraid to make a fool of yourself to get your pup's attention(the running and squeaking and such as mentioned before, lol!). If you need to completely leave the building to go outside and work on some tricks, so be it. He may need a little refresher to tune him in to you. You can also try walking in and out and in and out of the building until coming to class really isn't all that exciting--still fun of course, but nothing to go nuts about. You walk in, "Oh, look at everyone here." And immediately turn and walk right back out. You continue until he's calmer and is bored with going back and forth in and out the door.

Hope this helps, and I really wouldn't worry. :)


Experienced Member
I also wouldn't think it's his diet that's causing him to be hyper in class. Like tx_cowgirl said labradoodles are crazy!

It might benefit you to simply come 30mn early to class to work on attention without all the other dogs there. Then as the dogs trickle in I would try to be a bit further away and click and treat any attention to you. I wouldn't even bother using a watch me cue as he would probably ignore it, but any attention at all reward (and of course with amazing amazing treats).

An alternative to clicking for attention would actually be to do the opposite. If you click him for looking at the other dogs, he should hear the click and turn to you for his treat, in an essence giving you attention! Eventually when he sees another dog he'll say yes a dog! and turn to you for his treat.

But I really wouldn't worry too much, especially since he settles down nicely during class. The more opportunities you give him to play though in different settings and the more exercise he gets, the easier class will be.

As for his being a picky eater, are you leaving food down all day? Free fed dogs usually either become really fat or really picky. So if you aren't already doing this, I would put the food down for only 10 minutes and pick it up till his next meal. If he's used to that and still isn't eating he may just not need as much food as you think he does. Does he look thin to you? You should be able to feel his ribs easily, just not have them sticking out.

If you are picking the food up, you can also try training him to eat.


Experienced Member
I recently home-boarded my first ever labradoodle. He was only a few months of age and I've never known such a livewire before in my life. He was literally jumping off all four paws at once and reaching quite a mid-air height. I was told that such hyperactivity is quite synonymous with the breed.


Well-Known Member
Thanks to you all for your help. I will be taking your advice and will keep you posted.

I got this message from a girl I met at class. He mother is the head trainer. Tony who she mentions is a trainer too. Seems my puppy isnt all bad lol

"Youre so welcome babes, remember though, it wasnt dude tryin to attack from behind a fence it was maggie, it wasnt dude bogging out a german shepherd it was Diva lol, its not dude who has people issues its hugo, it wasnt dude picking a fight with my dane it was cassie.

He a baby with teenage hormones lol. Tony was bang out of order this morning, he put pressure on u he shouldnt have and the people who look have issues of thier own as above! Dude did his sendaway but Bill didnt! That class was too big to do heel work.
I love my classes with you, its great to have a laugh i appreciate you too!
If u ever wanna steam off i'm always about! we'll have to do walkies one day..
c ya wednesday xxx"

Oh CM Dude does that silly all feet off the floor at once too, bless his lil fluffy feet.


Experienced Member
Dr Nicolas Dodman discusses protein and activity in his new book though he admits there is still more research to do. There is a connection with behavior but it seems to be with dogs already prone to the behavior not in creating it. Since the dogs were prone to the behavior it also mean that it was a persistent adult occurring years long behavior. Decreasing protein seems to have an effect but I sure would NOT do it with a puppy or growing dog. He cautions the same.

This sounds like very typical puppy growing social exploring behavior. Socializing with safe and known dogs and training are much larger effectors of behavior than diet. Protein is very important to young dogs so I would stay within AAFCO guidelines to be sure health is a top priority. I think a great positive training class would do more in this situation than diet. This is a high energy breed nearing or in adolescence. Exercise exercise and training to mentally satisfy are so effective for my little dynamo.

Much luck.


Honored Member
Staff member
Indeed protein is not the sole cause of hyperactivity as noted by Dr. Dodman, but most studies show that a slight(not huge) increase in activity is shown in animals with higher protein diets---higher than needed for that specific animal, not a specific amount. Suggesting that if you have a German Shepherd active in bite work who is on a 40% protein diet, he's very unlikely to be "overactive"...but if a Shih Tzu is on the same diet it'll probably be running right through him, he generally won't be doing well, and he may be a bit on the crazy side. The Shepherd will easily utilize every bit of it in his work and will thrive. Protein is important to the development of muscle because it helps with nitrogen retention--which helps with not the growing of muscle but its development. That's a whole different subject...but anyway...

Even if you had your pup on a low protein diet, it wouldn't be very good for him, and it wouldn't change his energy. He's a puppy, and he's a labradoodle. His behavior is nothing out of the ordinary. ^^ If the other dogs in the class really have big issues as the other classmember implied, then the trainer really shouldn't have put them all in the same class. If their problems are bad enough, they will need more individual attention than one or two trainers can give them, and that many "problem" dogs will cause issues for dogs without issues. That's an error in placement on the trainer's part.

Either way, don't worry. Just keep working with him diligently, and I would highly recommend following the advice given in the other replies. This will help get his attention even in excitement mode. It will take a little while but he'll catch on. Good luck to you!


New Member
Just wondering what protein levels dog food in the UK and Europe typically have. Here in the U.S. I'd say the average is 22-25%. You can always go up with the high protein, low or no carb diets, but it is hard to find anything below the 22% range. I think Dodman recommends around 18% and not sure where one would get that. Curious as to what is offered across the pond as Barbara Sykes in her Understanding Border Collies book also comments that dogs don't need a high protein diet. She is referring to energy needs and not in relation to any kind of aggression issues etc. I have a border collie and as she puts it they are bred to have energy reserves and any bc could go 20 miles a day for their work but would need to be conditioned to do so. While it is true that some dogs have more energy naturally than others offen the owner conditions that in them and then wonders why the dog won't settle. A common mistake for many border collie owners is that they are told they are hyper if not worked or exercised. A good bred BC should have an off-switch, many come already instilled but those that don't can be taught. Some people think their dog has to be walked or ran 2 hours a day to be tired out. What they are really doing is conditioning the dog to need the 2 hours of day of exercise, so then when they don't get it for a few days the dog has all this pent up energy that it doesn't know what to do with. As opposed to just giving the dog a couple of good walks a day of 1-2 miles on a consistant basis and then working its mind some. Farmers don't want and can't have a hyper dog around, they wouldn't get any work done. Now its true that some sport BC's have been breed to be more hyper. I know there are other breeds that may come with more pent up energy naturally, that need physical exercise, but mental exercise works to tire any dog out too. I would not feed a large breed puppy a puppy dog food. High protein levels will cause growth to occur faster than its bones and joints are ready for. Hence, one reason there are so many hip and joint issues in large dogs. My girl is big for a border collie at about 40 lbs she is long and tall, her breeder recommended not to feed puppy food past the 6 months mark as they don't need the extra protein after that it causes growth plate problems. The Vets of course said to feed the puppy food as labled on the bag for at least a year, some even recommend longer. Each dog is different though and you really have to experiment and try some different foods to see what works best for yours. What works for one may not work for another, I'd say try some different foods with different levels and see how it goes. Keep in mind though that at this young age, your dog will be changing so fast with growing body and mind that it may be hard to tell what effect the food is having. I have no problem with those that do exercise their dogs 2+ hours a day, if you enjoy it and want to do it, whether for your own exercise or just a way to spend some quality time with your dog. We walk a lot because I enjoy it and so does my dog. But some people think they can condition a dog for that and then pick and choose which day they will go. That is not fair to the dog, come wind, cold, sleet, rain you need to be prepared to take the dog out, provided it is safe. I know those on this list do get out in any kind of weather for their dog, but you are all exceptions, and good ones at that!


Experienced Member
The AAFCO for the US recommends protein at 18% minimum for adults and 22% minimum for puppies (in dry matter calories-meaning subtract out moisture weight before calculating %). There is not a listed max. You could certainly achieve by raw feeding or home diets or supplementing commercial food in part with home cooked or prepared food if you wanted lower protein than 26%. Commercial foods are mostly too high in Ca and have poor Ca/Ph ratios which is why I prefer not a 100% commercial food calorie diet if not raw. Many of the %'s given on dog food labels are guaranteed minimums so they could be much higher than listed.


Well-Known Member
Thanks to everyone for posting such great answers. It seems everyone has really given thought to the relationship between diet and hyperactivity.

I dont think Dude's diet has anything to do with his energetic nature now Ive read everything that has been written, I think like you all, it is just because he is a puppy and a doodle too!

I have been visiting a forum dedicated to doodle owners and it seems there are plenty of people in the same situation as me. It seems they all want to spend their lives playing with people or dogs!

Seems this mix of breeds has unlimited energy .. I wish I had!