How to Calm a CRAZY Dog

How to Calm an Overly Ex­u­ber­ant Dog

Modern Dog - - FRONT PAGE - By Ni­cole Wilde

Is your dog overly ex­u­ber­ant dur­ing play? Does he turn into a non-stop jump­ing bean when you come home? Could you some­times swear that he’s

learned to lev­i­tate? If so, your dog may be suf­fer­ing from ODS: Over-ex­u­ber­ant Dog Syn­drome. Okay, I’m kid­ding about it be­ing an ac­tual syn­drome but for own­ers it cer­tainly can seem like a se­ri­ous affliction. Let’s talk about what might cause this all-too-com­mon con­di­tion and what you can do to get a han­dle on it.

The whole is­sue of over-ex­u­ber­ance boils down to en­ergy that needs to be ex­pended. If your dog is an ac­tive breed (a Labrador Re­triever, Dal­ma­tian, or Jack Rus­sell Ter­rier, for ex­am­ple), an ado­les­cent, prone to spon­ta­neous bursts of en­ergy, or a com­bi­na­tion of th­ese things, there is a seem­ingly end­less well of en­ergy that needs to be chan­neled into ac­cept­able out­lets. Pro­vid­ing daily ex­er­cise that is ap­pro­pri­ate for your dog’s age, breed, and phys­i­cal con­di­tion is a must. And don’t un­der­es­ti­mate the power of giv­ing your dog am­ple ex­er­cise be­fore a train­ing ses­sion—it can make all the dif­fer­ence in your dog’s abil­ity to fo­cus and learn. In ad­di­tion, en­cour­ag­ing men­tal stim­u­la­tion in the form of treat toys to roll or ex­ca­vate, puz­zle toys, and train­ing will go a long way to­ward wear­ing out your overly perky pup.

In spe­cific sit­u­a­tions where an over­abun­dance of en­ergy can be prob­lem­atic, such as jump­ing up when grandma comes to visit, it helps to in­stall an “off” switch. Be­lieve it or not, you can ac­tu­ally teach your dog to go from crazed to calm with a sim­ple train­ing ex­er­cise. First, grab a tug toy and be­gin to play with your dog in a fairly calm man­ner. You are set­ting him up to suc­ceed by not be­ing too wild too soon. Af­ter a few sec­onds of mild tug­ging, freeze in place, mak­ing sure not to move your hands at all. Keep­ing your hands to­gether at ab­dom­i­nal level will help. Now the hard part—just wait. Don’t say a word. Look down at the floor and stay per­fectly still. Your dog might sit, es­pe­cially if that is one of his de­fault be­hav­iours. If not, that’s okay too. What you’re wait­ing for is him to have all four paws on the floor and not be lung­ing for the toy. Once he’s sit­ting or stand­ing calmly, say, “Good! Take it” and con­tinue the game. His re­ward for be­ing calm and back­ing off is the re­sump­tion of the game. Af­ter a num­ber of rep­e­ti­tions, when you’re sure you can pre­dict the calm re­sponse, it’s time to at­tach a ver­bal cue. This time, stop tug­ging, as­sume your still stance and calmly say, “Chill.” This cue is a bit dif­fer­ent than “Leave it” as it will be gen­er­al­ized to other sit­u­a­tions, whereas “Leave It” nor­mally means you want your dog to back away from a spe­cific ob­ject. As your dog gets the hang of this game, in­crease the dif­fi­culty level by mak­ing the tug game faster and more ex­cit­ing.

Once your dog un­der­stands the con­cept of “Chill,” ap­ply it to other sit­u­a­tions. When you come home and your dog not only wants to greet you but is just over the top and un­re­lent­ing in his en­thu­si­asm, stand still and calmly say, “Chill.” Wait for him to calm down be­fore re­ward­ing him with your at­ten­tion. By meet­ing your dog’s phys­i­cal and men­tal needs, and also prac­tic­ing this train­ing ex­er­cise, your crazed ca­nine will soon be­come a man­age­able cham­pion of chill.

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