An Excited Boxer Puppy Learns to Listen to Her Guardians

By: David Codr

Published Date: May 4, 2015

Brynn 1

Brynn is a four-month-old Boxer puppy who jumps up on people, gets easily excited and doesn’t always listen to commands or corrections.

When I arrived for the session, Brynn was outside. I had wanted to gauge how excited and jumpy she was when people arrive, so I asked her guardian to bring her in. “I tried,” she said with a shrug. “That’s one of the things Im hoping you can help us with.”

A few moments later Brynn heard me and bound inside to check me out. She had a nice playful puppy energy and showed good curiosity and confidence. I kept her in front of me and blocked her when she attempted to jump up on my legs.

She was so excited that I placed her on a leash and stood on it a few feet away from her head. I call this a dog-time-out and I apply it anytime a dog is so excited it can’t restrain itself. It only took a moment for Brynn to calm herself, plopping down on the floor in front of me. As soon as she did, I took my foot off the leash, but did it in such a way that she didn’t realize she was free. By leaving the dog be, it eventually gets up on its own and walks way calmly.

I talked to her family about energy levels and suggested that they repeat this technique anytime Brynn got too excited. By consistently interrupting a dog and taking away its freedom when it gets too stimulated, then releasing it once it has calmed down, we can help the dog learn the energy threshold that is allowed in the house. By applying the time out at precisely the same energy level threshold, the dog eventually learns to stay just under that energy limit on their own.

To help develop the ability to self restrain, I went through a leadership exercise I like to use. The exercise involves placing a high value item or treat on the floor, then claiming it in the same way a dog would. Once Brynn laid down a few feet away from the treat to communicate she was no longer challenging for it, I let her have it.

In addition to developing a deeper foundation of leadership between dog and human, the exercise helps the dog learn to understand how to respect boundaries and most importantly how to restrain itself. Teaching a dog to self restrain at this age will help it with impulse control and reactivity to new people, places and things.

After running through the exercise myself a few times, I coached all the members of Brynn’s family through it until they got the same result. In the course of 20 minutes, Brynn went from trying to run around or thru people to get the treat to sitting or laying down almost immediately. I got a kick out of seeing the parents smile as they watched their preteen daughter claim the treat and have Brynn lay down for her permission to get it.

Brynn 2

To help Brynn learn to come when called, I went over a basic recall exercise with all the members of the family in a circle around the living room. At first it took a few calls to get Brynn’s attention and response, but within minutes she figured it out. When I saw her head over with a bounce in her step after the first call, then sit down in front of the person who called her, I knew we had the problem on the run.

I suggested that the family practice this exercise daily, first in the living room, then calling the dog from room to room, then to different floors. Once the dog recalls consistently inside the house regardless of the distance, I recommended doing the same thing in the back yard. BY progressively making the recall more challenging, Brynn’s guardians can help ensure that she recalls to them under any situation.

After we finished practicing the recall exercise, I went over some new non verbal methods of communicating with their dog as well as how to correct her in a way she understands and respects. Because boxers play by pushing and shoving, I advised her family to stop using those techniques to try to correct or redirect her.

By using body language, movement and other non verbal commands, her family will get a quicker response as they will be speaking to their dog in its native language. This will also help ensure that the dog does not misinterpret a correction for an invitation to play.

By the time we wrapped up the session, Brynn was responding to her guardian’s calls and corrections right away. Her energy level was nice and even and she was showing respect for her family member’s personal space rather than leaning on or against them.

As a puppy there are likely to be good and bad days ahead. But now that her guardians know how to communicate what they want from their dog in a way it understands and respects, Brynn’s days of getting over excited or ignoring her family will soon be at an end.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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