Teaching Lucy to Calm Down So She Can Respect and Obey the Grandkids

By: David Codr

Published Date: December 19, 2013

LucyLucy is a two-year-old beagle / lab mix. Her owners contacted me to help stop her from getting over excited, jumping up and difficulty in calming down. Most importantly, their grand kids were scared to be in the same room with her because she would jump up and tackle them.

When I arrived for the appointment I could tell Lucy was a medium to high energy dog. While she listened to commands, you could tell she was itching anticipating a command to do the next thing. While there is nothing wrong with a higher energy dog, if it doesn’t have clear rules and boundaries its expected to follow, the excitedness sometimes gets out of control.

Because her owners had watched a few of my videos, they had already started working with her on my version of the leave it exercise. While she understood the concept, she wasn’t surrendering to its core principle – listening to and following the lead of her human owners.

I coached her owners through the exercise, fine tuning their technique. While they had the exercise’s structure down, they missed a few minor things. Once we addressed those, Lucy’s energy level seemed to lower a bit as she focused on the exercise. By practicing this exercise a few times daily for the next week or two, Lucy’s ability to self restrain and focus on her pack leaders will increase considerably.

Next we went out for a short walk as her owner said she pulled on the leash like crazy. I fitted her up with my special leash trick and away we went. At first Lucy protested the new leash position but I stated with it and within about 100 feet she relaxed then surrendered to it by falling into a nice heel next to me.

I handed the leash over to her owner and followed a few steps behind to offer a few tips and pointers until Lucy was heeling next to her without any pull of the leash. It will take a week or two of similar walks before it becomes habit, but Lucy’s owner was so pleased with the progress, Im guessing many more walks will be in this dog’s future. Burning excess energy in a controlled way like a heel walk is really important when you have a young, high-energy dog.

A few minutes after we returned from the walk, the grandkids came over for a visit and dinner. Because of the past experiences, the kids were nervous and kept their distance from Lucy. I had left her on the leash so I could disagree any time she got over excited. I had to correct her a few times, but within 10 minutes she was laying or sitting on the floor near the kids without jumping up on them as she used to do.

When the family sat down for dinner, I suggested they incorporate a new rule / boundary of not allowing Lucy within five feet of the dinner table. While her owners were adept at the corrective technique I showed them, Lucy was quick and persistent.

Because they use a kennel that sat next to the dinner table, i told them to place her inside it, but leave the door open. Once she was inside I showed them how to communicate to Lucy that she was to stay inside until they gave her permission to come out. It took 3-4 corrections before Lucy surrendered and laid down inside the kennel. Her owner kept shaking her head saying she couldn’t believe how calm Lucy was and that she was staying in the kennel on her own.

While we are usually strong enough to physically overpower and manipulate dogs, doing so does not help them learn to self restrain, follow their owner’s commands and relax. By communicating to the dog what you want, in a way the dog understands, then structuring the situation so that the dog is able to complete the task or command on its own, it is able to learn and grow.

By the end of the session the grandkids were giving Lucy commands and interacting with her without the fear of her jumping up on them as before. I suggested her parents and grandparents repeat some of the exercises we did with the kids so that Lucy learns the proper behavior expected from her when they come to visit.

Based on how quickly she was able to adapt and change her energy and behavior, Im betting the grandkids fear of Lucy will quickly be a forgotten memory.

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