Teaching an Excited Corgi to Calm Down Before Walks

By: David Codr

Published Date: April 25, 2018

For this Omaha dog training session we helped Zoey, a 7 year-old Corgi who gets over excited before walks, takes treats too roughly and doesn’t always listen to her guardians.

We started off by going over the benefits of exercise. Zoey is considerably heavier than she should be. Many people mistakenly think providing food as a way of showing love and affection for dogs. But if Zoey does not take off this weight, it will have many negative impacts on her life. She is already winded on short walks and a Corgi in its prime should be able to walk for a mile or more without breaking a sweat (metaphorically speaking as dogs don’t really sweat).

Next we went over more beneficial ways of showing Zoey some love. I like to call this petting with a purpose. If the guardians can get into a habit of doing this, every time they pet her in the future, it will be a mini dog obedience training session they engage in without even thinking about it.

I also recommended they recognize desired behaviors when offered. I call this passive training. Petting Zoey each time she comes to her guardians on her own (while saying the command word “come)”will dramatically improve her recall at the times her guardians need her to come on command. Same thing for sitting, laying down, bringing a specific toy, stretching, barking or grumbling.

Many people unintentionally train their dogs to do the opposite of what they want them to do. This is a result of attention being very rewarding and validating to a dog. But to dogs, good attention and bad attention aren’t far apart. And guess what happens when a dog “misbehaves,” we give them plenty of attention when we disagree or correct them. Since dogs learn through repetition, this is one of the more common dog behavior problems I see working as Omaha’s dog behavior expert.

Another common mistake people make is thinking an excited dog is a happy dog. But excitement is not happiness, its an unbalanced state of mind and just like humans, dogs are more likely to make a mistake when they are all worked up.

One of the activities that got Zoey over excited was the prospect of going for a walk. When her guardians tried to leash her up, she got excited and ran away. Here is a video of her behavior before we worked on it.

I have solved many dog behavior problems by simply teaching the dog to stay calm by practicing the activity over and over. I used this same approach for Zoey’s excited behavior before walks.

The first step was to remove as many elements from the activity as possible so its not so intense or exciting. In Zoey’s case, the first step was walking over to where the leash was. As soon as Zoey walked in front or started to get excited, her guardian stopped, went back to the couch and sat down until Zoey calmed her self down completely. Once that was the case, we practiced that step over and over until she was calm the whole time.

One wild card Zoey presented was her habit of running away when the guardian picked up the leash. I knew we needed to first teach Zoey to go to the spot where the leash was. We practiced having her walk near that area to get a treat without touching the leash. Once she came over right away, the guardian moved one step closer to the area with the leash. By moving progressively, we were able to train the dog to move to that place where the leash was kept without being too excited or running away.

The nest step was to tell Zoey to sit in the area before we went to the next step, reaching for the leash (but not touching it).

It took about 20-30 minutes, but eventually we trained Zoey to stay calm as her guardian picked up then attached the leash. Check out her after video below.

Stopping a dog from getting too excited for a walk is one of my favorite things to teach people to do as it is so transformative. It was even more rewarding in this case because Zoey’s guardians are expecting their first child and I could see that teaching a dog to stay calm before walks will really help improve the quality of her family’s life when the baby arrives.

Many dogs get so excited when being leashed up that they carry that energy with them on the walk. This can easily result in a walk where the dog is all over, not listening, pulling on the leash, etc. This is no fun for dog or human.

Spending the time to teach a dog to stay calm before the walk pays huge dividends. Most people simply don’t know that spending 30-60 minutes a couple of times is an easy way to achieve good dog behavior that lasts a lifetime.

I shared some additional tips for a few of Zoey’s other dog behavior problems as well as recommending they check out one of the dog behavior columns I have written on introducing a dog to a new baby.

We finished up the session by shooting a roadmap to success video filled with all the positive dog training secrets I shared with them in this in home dog behavior training session.

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This post was written by: David Codr

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