Teaching Kinsey to Calm Down and Listen to Her Owners

KinseyKinsey is a three-year-old Border Collie / Lab mix. Her owner called me to stop her from pulling on the leash, jumping up on people, her tendency to bark too much and getting over-excited when she sees new people or dogs.

Knowing that Kinsey gets over excited and likes to jump up on guests, I knocked enthusiastically at the door. As soon as he owner opened the door, Kinsey tried to jump up on me to “claim me.”  I applied a technique I developed last year to disagree with the behavior and help her understand jumping up on guests is unwanted. I only had to repeat the technique once. After that, you could see Kinsey flex as if she were about to jump up from instinct, but then realize it was unwanted and stop herself.

While I was discussing the session with her owners, Kinsey jumped up on two different couches that their owners were sitting on – sometimes jumping from one couch to the other. You could see that she wanted to come smell and interact with me due to her friendly nature and level of excitement, but her lack of confidence was causing her some hesitation. The combination of all this was clearly causing the dog some anxiety.

I grabbed a four foot leash, attached it to her collar, then pulled her right next to me.  She tried to pull away after a minute so I stepped on the leash about 12 inches form her head. Just close enough to restrict her from moving away, but with enough slack where she could sit or lie down with no tension on the leash. Within 30 seconds, her energy level dropped and she sat down. A minute later she was completely calm and laid down on the floor at my feet. I stepped off the leash slowly and without any fanfare. Kinsey continued to lay there calmly for the next 10 minutes before she got up and casually walked away.

I suggested that her owners repeat this process anytime she got overexcited. By stopping what we are doing to help the dog, and helping the dog slow down and collect itself, we can help condition Kinsey to stop getting over excited. In time this will result in her ability to remain in a calm and balanced frame of mind all the time.

We went over some basic dog obedience exercises which had a notable impact on Kinsey. As we practiced the recall exercise, you could see some bounce get added to her steps as her confidence grew. This is always a great thing to see when practicing positive reinforcement.

As the session progressed, Kinsey became calmer, responded to her owners better and was far less anxious. When we went out for a short walk, she restrained herself and dint bark at all when a neighbor walked by with their dog. Her owners told me that before this session, she would have been going bananas; lunging and barking while trying to get to the other dog to play with her.

Our earlier work was clearly having a positive impact on Kinsey’s behavior. By practicing these techniques over the next week or two and keeping her from getting over excited, Kinsey will adopt this new behavior and be a much happier and healthier dog.

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