10 tips on how to calm an over excited dog…
When you are training and working with your dog, have you ever noticed if he becomes more excited with certain tricks (behaviors)? Does one particular behavior seem to send him into a whining, barking frenzy?
What could have happened is that when you originally trained the trick, he was doing a whine or bark at that time, but you were so excited that he was getting it, that you ignored the bark and whine. Chances are you captured and trained those unwanted behaviors too. The dog has attached the over aroused whine or bark with that particular trick.
Here are a few ideas on what to do:
1. Do not reward the dog for the behavior if he is barking or whining while doing that particular trick. Wait until he does the behavior without barking and then reward.
2. Go back a few steps and retrain the trick. Breaking it down into smaller chunks and set the dog up for success each step of the way.
3. If the trick is on a verbal cue and that seems to get the dog excited, then work on changing the verbal cue. This might just be enough to change the dogs emotional response to that particular behavior.
4. Try doing the trick from a different position. For example: If you normally start a leg weave from your heel position and that gets the dog overly excited, try starting the leg weave from your right side instead.
5. End the training session for a few seconds as soon as the dog barks or whines, then in about 30 seconds to a minute try again. Calmly do this, do not get upset or angry, just simply say “all done” and stop training for a bit.
6. Work on something that is calm prior to doing the trick that is exciting. Then do the exciting trick and immediately go back to the calm trick. Ping pong back and forth to keep the dog in a calm state of mind.
7. Use calming signals to try to calm your dog down. Calm yawns, soft eye blinks, small lip licks, and turn your head away slightly.
8. Use a Thunder Shirt to keep your dog calm, but don’t use it as a cure all and should be used with some of these other suggestions, too.
9. End a training session before the dog gets over aroused.
10. Start a training session with a calm dog. If your dog is never calm, then that is a whole different lesson. I’ll have to address how to do that another time.
Keep in mind that not all dogs respond the same way. My Border Collie Bandit loves it when I am energetic and vocal. However, my Border Collie Twix can get too over aroused if I am energetic and vocal. So, with Twix I am quiet and calmer when I work with him.
Have a great day!
Pamela Johnson, B.S., M.A., and CPDT-KA