Teaching an Overexcited Puppy to Calm Down and Behave

By: David Codr

Published Date: June 30, 2014

ChloeChloe is a seven-month-old Bernese Mountain Dog. Her owner contacted me to stop her from jumping up on people and getting overexcited, especially around children.

When I first met Chloe, her owner was using both hands to hold her back. You could almost see the excitement it was so intense.

As soon as we got inside and Chloe was loose, she ran in a few circles before jumping up on me. I dropped my bag and applied my own method to discourage her from jumping up. Chloe didn’t like it one bit, but as usual, one correction stopped her from jumping up for the rest of the session.

It was clear that Chloe’s primary problem was her over excitement. She bounded around the room, running in circles, climbed under some of the furniture in the room and climbing on top of the rest including a coffee table.

I grabbed my leash and attached it to her collar then stood on top of it about a foot from her head. Chloe attempted to pull herself free for a minute, then sat down next to me and calmed down a bit. A minute later she was completely calm and laid down on the floor without any additional protesting.

I suggested that her owner apply this technique any time the dog’s energy level got too high for their liking. By consistently removing some of the dog’s freedom when it gets over excited, we can help the dog understand that out of control energy is not wanted and comes with consequences.

Once Chloe was calm, I went over a few communication methods, ways to disagree with unwanted behavior and an exercise to help her calm down, focus, look to her owner for leadership and practice restraining herself.

Chloe responded extremely well to the new communication methods and only took three repetitions of the exercise before she mastered it. As soon as she did, I walked her owners through the exercise as well so they can continue to practice it after the session.

Chloe’s owner mentioned that she was very challenging to take for a walk due to the over excitement and pulling on the leash. I had her put the dog on a leash so I could observe the dog’s energy level.

As I suspected, as soon as the leash came out, Chloe’s energy level started to skyrocket. I explained that her owner needs to stop and pause until the dog returned to a calm state. Be it putting the dog on a leash, opening the door to go out, feeding time, etc. By consistently stopping whenever the dog starts to get over-excited in a specific situation, and waiting until it is calm before continuing, we can help the dog learn that its excitement in that situation is what stops the activity from continuing.

Once she was calm, I put a Martingale collar on Chloe and added my special twist to the leash before heading outside. As usually, the leash trick stopped the dog from pulling immediately.

I walked Chloe down the long driveway so her owner could see how I positioned myself and corrected her when she got out of position. It only took a few corrections to get Chloe to walk in a perfect heel without pulling. Once that was the case, I walked over to her owner and handed her the leash.

As she walked Chloe down the driveway, her owner told me how much of an improvement the Martingale collar made. Now that the pulling was over, I advised her to take the dog out for a walk daily.

As its a hot and muggy simmer in the midwest, and Chloe is a Bernese Mountain Dog, she won’t need a very long walk to tire her out. But by walking her daily in a structured way, her owner will take on more of a leadership position in the dog’s eyes with each walk.

By the end of the session, Chloe was laying contently on the floor as I offered her owner a few additional tips. Her owner was very happy with the dramatic change in her behavior once we addressed the over excitement.

One of my favorite things about fixing dog problems is how quickly dogs adapt once they understand what their owner wants. Now that Chloe’s owners know how to communicate and disagree with her behavior, the days of her out of control behavior are at an end.

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