Helping the Highest Energy Dog We Have Ever Worked With

By: David Codr

Published Date: August 10, 2018

For this Omaha puppy training session we worked with one of the highest energy dogs we have ever helped; Rocky is a 7 month-old Weimaraner / German Shorthair Pointer mix.

Ive worked with around 3,000 dogs by this point and Rocky gets the title as the most excited dog, by far. It was so glaring that within minutes I was advising the guardian that this may not be the dog for her. She quickly made it clear that she was committed to keeping Rocky so I buckled up to be her co pilot for this adventure.

Because of how high his energy level was, I had my Director of Operations Adam bring out one of my secret weapons; a Border Collie, Lab, Pointer Dalmatian mix of mine named Cali.

It was awesome seeing Cali check Rocky’s uncontrolled behavior. He tested and pushed her boundaries several times, but she corrected him perfectly and you could see a dramatic improvement in his behavior.

We let them play outside until Rocky’s energy level was low enough to go back inside to discuss a rehabilitation plan. I suggested she start an exercise journal and notate his exercise each day along with his outlandish behavior and an overall grade at the end of the day. This will allow the guardian to vary the exercise elements until she finds a combination that satiates his seemingly unlimited energy.

When we were outside I noticed a number of old shoes and gloves strew around the yard. I mentioned the guardian should stop letting him have access to old shoes and gloves though. Its hard for dogs to see a difference between a new and old shoe so removing them will help avoid confusion.

I suggested some creative ways to burn off his excess energy like a dog backpack filled with weight, playing fetch before the walk, using a laser, tossing treats up and down stairs, a dog walker and possibly dog day care. I also told her to interpret his mouthy, jumping or barking behavior as his way of communicating he has too much energy stored up and immediately find a way to give him a few minutes of exercise.

I also recommended we set up training sessions with our lead dog trainer James to work on loose leash training and better fetch behavior.

A few other dog behavior suggestions I made were to pet with a purpose, reward desired behaviors through passive training and immediately stop interacting (I call this light switch on or off) or leave the room when Rocky’s behavior gets to be too much.

At times the guardian was petting Rocky when he invaded his human’s personal space, jumped up on or mouthed her. Dogs associate getting attention as a reward for whatever behavior they are offering at the time so stopping her petting when he is excited, jumped up, mouthes or offers any other unwanted behavior is crucially important. I call this light switch on light switch off.

One of the times Rocky was a super excited dog was when his humans returned home. The guardian and I went outside to simulate leaving the house so I could show her how to teach a dog to stay calm when people come home.

Stopping a dog from getting excited when people return home is all about creating a scenario where the dog can see the human, but to reach them. By starting and stopping with precise timing, the guardian can help Rocky learn that excited behavior is not wanted, but calm behavior makes the human approach and engage. Another example of light switch on / off.

Adding structure will help, but the most pressing need is to find the right combination of exercise the dog needs to be able to behave. Your average dog needs a good solid hour of exercise every day. Rocky probably needs closer to 3. Keeping the exercise journal and trying those creative ways to burn off excess energy will help the guardian determine the right combination for Rocky.

Because Cali did such a great job with Rocky and he is young and impressionable, I also suggested the guardian pick up Cali once or twice a week to spend an hour or two with Rocky. Habituation is a dog behavior secret that has helped many troubled dogs learn from a good example. I only call Rocky “troubled” because he is so out of control energy wise compounded by the fact he has no concept of boundaries or respect for his guardian as a leader.

Because of how much time we devoted to burning off his excess energy and installing basics, its a safe bet that Rocky will need a return dog behavior visit or two. He sure lucked out finding a guardian so determined to help him learn how to become a well behaved adult dog.

To help the guardian remember all the dog behavior secrets I shared in this in home dog training session, we shot a roadmap to success video.

Roadmap

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This post was written by: David Codr

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