How to Teach a Dog to Not Get Over Excited Before a Walk

By: David Codr

Published Date: August 2, 2022

 teach a dog to not get over excited before a walk

For this Santa Monica dog behavior session we worked with 1 year-old Shepherd mix Rowlfy, sharing tips on how to teach a dog to not get over excited before a walk.

I was originally called into work with Rowlfy on his dog reactivity, but I learned that the instant he leaves his home, he gets so aroused that he can’t listen to his guardians or follow even the simplest cue like sit.

Well dog reactivity is certainly a serious behavior issue, if a dog is too worked up to listen, that’s going to create anxiety and make it impossible to work on any other issue until that problem is addressed first.

How to teach a dog to not get over excited before a walk

When most people think of a dog that needs to calm down, the image that comes to mind is a dog that is bouncing off of the walls. That is not the case with Rowlfy. He simply becomes so intensely focused on his environment that his ability to listen escapes him.

Anytime you have a dog behavior problem, it’s important that you break it down into small bite-size steps and work on them one at a time in progressive order of intensity. You can’t solve problem “Z” until you first address A, B and C. And sometimes its important to address root issues before others. So While Rolphie’s dog reactivity issue needs to be addressed, until we can get him to a calmer state when outside of his home, that needs to be the priority. Otherwise Rolfy wont be able to “hear” or “learn” the lessons about stoppig dog reactivity.

In Rowlfy‘s case, the instant his guardian reached for his leash or door handle inside his home, he became so aroused he could no longer listen. We call this above threshold. Usually dogs in this state are barking, spinning, jumping, whining, etc. But for Rolfy, he was just super intense and almost still.

I had attempted to work with him outside ont he reactivity, but because of how over threshold he was, we returned to his home so that I could share some tips with his guardians on how to help a dog regain emotional control of itself. Teaching a dog to settle down before training or activities is an important part of dog rehabilitation.

Because Rowlfy had been outside and over threshold for longer than a half an hour, I decided to let him relax on the floor and instead film a positive dog training video on how to use desensitization and counter conditioning to stop a dog from getting excited when you get ready to go for a walk.

If you have a dog that has difficulty listening to you on walks, you should definitely check out the free positive dog training video below. These are effective tips to help a dog learn to stay relaxed before walks.

By breaking down the procedures his family goes through when they take their dog on a walk, they can help their dog stay under threshold. And by repeating the step over and over until the dog is able to do so before they move to the next step, they are affectively teaching the dog how they want it to behave.

It’s going to take time and practice to help a dog stop getting over excited before walks. I suggested that the guardians practice 2 to 6 times a day, in short successful sessions and chronicle their progress. Stopping a dog from getting over excited requires discipline on the humans part. It’s very easy to go too far and have the dog practice moving forward while it’s still excited. You have to stop and wait for the dog to return to a calm state before practicing again. Going out the dog’s pace is crucial when you’re attempting to modify overexcited dog behavior.

The guardians can set Rowlfy up for success by getting him some exercise in the house before they practice these tips to calm a dog down. I showed them how to play cookie in the corner and recommended that they Google scent games like these; one, two, three. These games require a dog to use its nose to solve problems which can drain a tremendous amount of energy and also boost their confidence.

I also recommend the guardians pick up a snufflemat and a few other treat dispensing toys so that Rowlfy works for his food.

They may also want to start a daily schedule where they detail the time and number of reps or length of various forms of exercise as well as notable activities (meals, playtime, barking incidents, etc) throughout the day. After a week or so of data, this can help them zero in on the appropriate amount of physical exercise and mental stimulation that Rowlfy needs.

Because we really had to go back to basics, I recommend the guardians practice these calming exercises for dogs for the next couple of weeks and then contact me about scheduling a follow up session so we can build on his progress and hopefuly start working on his dog reactivity.

To help the guardians remember all the positive dog behavior tips we shared in this in-home Santa Monica dog training session, recorded a roadmap to success video that you can watch below.

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This post was written by: David Codr