Tips to Calming Down an Excited Dog Who Had a Tough Start to Life

By: David Codr

Published Date: April 11, 2017

Sheba (left) is a Akita / Husky mix who lives in Omaha with Shadow, a two-year-old rescue dog. The guardian booked a dog behavior training appointment with me to help Shadow who spent the first year of his life tied up to a tree and is now leash aggressive, also gets excited easily and pulls on the leash.

Both dogs were excited to see me when I stepped inside their home. Surprisingly Sheba was in front of Shadow. Being skittish around strangers, I expected Sheba to keep her distance but here she was, front and center.

Shadow was clearly the high energy dog, repeatedly jumping up on me. Later in the session, I showed the guardians how to train a dog to stay behind an invisible boundary at the top of the stairs of this split level home. It will be important for the humans to practice this door answering technique at least once a day (more is better) for the next 7-14 days until the dogs stay behind the boundary on their own.

When I sat down with the family to discuss Shadow and his behavior problems, I learned that the dogs didn’t really have any rules in place. Both dogs literally climbed up on top of the humans to tell them they wanted attention. It wasn’t hard to see why the dogs acted this way, each time they nudged or jumped up on a member of the family, they automatically reached out and stated to pet them.

I suggested a number of rules and boundaries and showed the guardians how to enforce them using non verbal forms of communication. I also stressed how important it is to disagree out reward the dogs within 3 seconds so they are able to make the connection and learn what the humans were asking or telling them.

One of the recommendations I made were for the humans to practice my Petting with a Purpose method. By asking the dogs to sit or lay down to earn their attention, the humans can help them develop more self control and respect for the humans at the same time.

I also showed the humans a focus exercise which will come in handy with Shadow’s leash aggression. This exercise needs a lot of practice in order to hold the dog’s attention for a sufficient length of time, then the next step is to practice it on walks without other dogs around. Once the dog constantly responds inside and out, then they guardian will be able to use the Focus exercise when other dogs are in the area and stop Shadow’s leash aggression before it actually happens.

By the end of the session, the dogs seemed more relaxed and were already respecting the human’s personal space and following their lead. I wrapped up the session by filming a Roadmap to Success video that you can watch by clicking the link below.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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