Tips to Get a Pair of Excited Dogs to Calm Down to Eliminate their Behavior Issues

By: David Codr

Published Date: March 12, 2017

Whiskey and bojangles - Tips to Get a Pair of Excited Dogs to Calm Down to Eliminate their Behavior Issues

Whiskey (left) is a three-year-old French Bulldog / Boston Terrier mix who lives in Culver City with Bojangles, a one-year-old Boston Terrier. Their guardians asked me to help them with a number of dog behavior problems including getting over excited and pulling on the leash.

The dogs were very excited when I arrived for the session. Little Bojangles repeatedly tried to jump up on me and also showed some redirected aggression towards Whiskey before and after the door opened.

When we sat down to discuss the dog behavior issues the guardians wanted help with, Bojangles maintained her excited energy while Whiskey picked out a good spot on the floor to lay down on.

After a few minutes of this, I pulled out a leash and attached it to Bojangles who immediately freaked out; crying very intensely despite the fact no corrections were applied to the leash. I suspect she discovered that if she cried that way, she could get her humans to stop doing anything she disagreed with.

Obviously you never want to harm a dog, however I have seen more than a few who were crafty enough to determine that they could manipulate the humans to some extent by crying or acting out in a similar way. Bojangles tried to wait me out, but once she realized it wasn’t working, she gave up on the over excited behavior. Once she did, I removed the leash.

Many of the dog’s behavior problems were a result of their belief that they had the same authority as their humans due to a lack of rules and structure. I suggested the addition of rules and boundaries, then showed the guardians how to enforce them in a non physical way that the dogs listened to and respected.

As a dog behaviorist, I have found that identifying ways to add structure to daily activities and delaying gratification are great ways to help dogs develop self control while also building up their respect for the humans. Its going to be important for the humans to “act” like leader’s in their actions while helping the dogs understand what is and is not expected of them to put these problems to rest for good.

I recommended that the guardians start recreating situations and scenarios that get the dogs over excited so that they can break them down into small steps. This allows you to teach the dog the behavior that is expected at each step while eliminating the excitement that often gets them into trouble.

A perfect example of this technique is leashing the dogs up for a walk. Many people confuse excitement for happiness. But a dog can be calm and happy. The dog behavior trick is to stop or pause the instant the dog gets over excited. If you do this consistently, the dog eventually understands that the only way you will move forward is if they stay calm.

Before showing the guardians how to break the leashing process up into steps, I had them go through the process the way the get the dogs ready for a walk now.

Although this isn’t the worst case of excited dogs I have ever seen, they were clearly worked up, moving in front of the guardian and then dancing when he went to attach the leash.

We practiced this exercise over and over to help the dogs understand what was expected from them during this activity. We paused or stopped each time the dogs moved in front or got too excited. It took a half an hour or so, but when we tried again, the dog’s were much calmer.

Now I would like to see the dogs remain completely calm throughout this process, but because the guardians had been leashing them up in an excited manner for a while, its going to take additional proactive before staying completely calm becomes the new default behavior for this pair.

Now that the dogs were leashed up and much calmer than when we first started, we were ready to head out on what I like to call and structured walk. I shared some leash training tips and heel training secrets before we headed out for a short walk.

The walk started out a little rough as Bojangles repeated her crying behavior to try to get the leash off. Just as before, we stayed patient and waited her out. Within a few minutes, she was walking with a loose leash in a nice heel position next to her guardians.

Its going to take some practice at the leashing exercise and consistently enforcing the new rules and boundaries while providing the dogs with structure, but now that the humans know how to effectively communicate and teach them how they want them to behave, Whisky and Bojangles days of unruly behavior will soon be a distant memory.


  • Increase the dog’s daily exercise, especially for Bojangles and preferably early in the day.
  • Enroll the dogs into dog day care now so they are used to it when its needed later
  • Read this article on how to successfully introduce a new baby to the dogs.
  • Take the dogs to dog day care the day the baby comes home for the first time or any time that they may get into trouble with what is going on at home. A well exercised dog is almost always better behaved.
  • that the day the baby comes home or the days where the guardians are going to have people over they can go to day care to ensure they are sufficiently exercised and mentally stimulated.
  • Introduce rules, boundaries and limits and consistently enforce them.
  • Get into a habit of correcting or rewarding the dogs within 3 seconds to help them learn what we do or don’t want.
  • Avoid petting the dogs when they are over excited or in any unbalanced state of mind.
  • Use passive training to reward the dogs any time they engage in a desired action or behavior.
  • Start petting the dogs with a purpose.
  • Practice leashing up the dogs multiple times a day (4 times per every walk) to help desensitize them.
  • Practice the door answering exercise two or more times a day for 7-14 days in a row to help them adopt a follower mindset and adopt a new door behavior.
  • Practice spending time in the new baby nursery with the dogs outside the doorway and the door open to help them learn to adopt this new behavior when the baby arrives.
  • Add structure to feeding time with the human eats first and the dogs eat one at a time after.
  • Get into a habit of walking through the dogs instead of around them.
  • Follow through consistently for the next 3-4 weeks to help the dogs get into a habit of these new behaviors.
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This post was written by: David Codr

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