Teaching an Excited Maltese to Calm Down and Develop Control

By: David Codr

Published Date: July 29, 2016

Coco Maltese

Coco is a two-year-old Baby Face Maltese who lives in Omaha. Her guardian set up a dog training session with me to help with a number of issues; getting over excited when guests arrive, barking, jumping up on people, not always listening and charging the door.

I got to see Coco’s barking and overexcited nature firsthand when I arrived for the session.

After seeing how she behaved while I arrived for the session, it was no surprise to hear that Coco occasionally suffered from excited urination. This is often the case with dogs that have not yet developed sufficient self control.

This overexcitement extended to pretty much every facet of Coco’s life. Another example was how she behaved when I reached over to try to pet her.

Coco literally could not control herself each time that I reached over to pet her. Her guardian mention that she would often pick the dog up when she got in this over excited state. The problem with that is picking a dog up is a way of rewarding them. So each time that Coco was overexcited this way and her guardian picked her up, the guardian was nurturing this overexcited an unbalanced state of mind.

It took a couple of minutes of me retracting my hand each time that Coco started to get overexcited, but eventually I was able to get her to remain seated while I petted her. Not only did this calm Coco down, it helped stop dog barking.

It will be important for Coco’s guardians to consistently bend their arm away from her at the elbow the instant she starts to show any excitement when they lean in to pet her. If their timing is precise, this will result in a conversation that Coca will understand; i.e. “when I get over excited, the petting stops.”

This overexcitement is almost certainly a contributing factor to almost every behavioral problem the Coco has. I suggested that the guardian start taking her out for short walks multiple times a day.

If the guardian takes note of Coco’s behavior as she starts increasing the amount of daily exercise, she should be able to find the right combination that results in the default energy that she is looking for. The old expression of “a well exercised dog is a well behaved one” is very true.

I also went over a technique I developed called Petting with a purpose. This kind of positive dog training will go a long way towards motivating Coco to engage in desired behaviors and help stop demand barking.

While Coco got overexcited in a variety of situations, clearly guests arriving at the door was at the top of the list. Coco’s guardian had arranged for one of her daughters to stop by during the session so that I could show her how to get Coco to adopt a new behavior at the door.

By claiming the area around the door and then breaking down the door opening into individual steps, I was able to help Coco keep a respectable distance. This pause is a great mini dog obedience training and structural exercise that will help Coco better control herself.

A little bit later on in the session, the guardian’s other daughter arrived to help us out. This time Coco’s guardian answered the door herself.

I suggested that Coco’s guardian enlist the help of her family to practice this new door answering ritual. I have found it usually takes a dog 6 to 12 successful practices before they start staying behind the boundary and remaining calm on their own.

Because Coco was so excited throughout the session I suggested that we introduce her to my dalmatian puppy Quest. At nine weeks old he is roughly the same size as Coco and most certainly could match her energy.

I would have liked to of seen Coco and Quest play more than they did. But due to a lack of regular interaction and socialization with other dogs, Coco took a little bit of time to process how to react with another dog in her yard.

I suggested that Coco’s guardians look for friends or family members who have little dogs with a similar energy level as Coco to arrange get togethers. Setting up regular play dates will help her develop her social skills and also provide an excellent outlet to burn off excess energy.

By the end of the session, Coco’s energy was much more under control. She was able to stay calm and seated while people petted her, she was responding to commands and corrections right away and seemed to have a more relaxed body posture. With some practice and regular enforcement of the new rules and structure, this should become her default energy level and behavior.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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