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Working with an excited dog


You want to take your dog for a walk but you consider it a chore. You like the idea of taking a nice stroll around the neighborhood, but when you pick up his leash your dog goes berserk. Then once out the door he's so excited the walk quickly turns into a chore.

Take a few minutes to play ball with your dog before attaching the leash and going for the walk. A little release of your dog's energy and excitement can turn the chore of walking your dog into a pleasurable outing.

To end the excitement of your dog whenever he sees you pick up the leash simply pick it up and put it back down several times throughout the day. This will condition your dog to no longer associate the leash being picked up with it always leading to a walk.

When attaching the leash to the dog's collar and he jumps all over the place with anticipation quickly drop the leash on the floor and walk away. Once your dog settles down, try it again. It may take several attempts but soon your dog will learn he needs to be calm before the leash is attached and the walk begins.

If your dog becomes crazy at feeding time, ask him to sit before putting the bowl down. If he fails to sit on your first request, place the food bowl on the counter, out of reach and walk away. Come back after a few seconds and cue him again to sit. Say the cue one time only. If he still fails to sit place the bowl back on the counter and walk away. Repeat this simple but effective exercise and soon your dog will patiently sit for his meals.

When excited dogs jump and people push them away, the dogs take this as an invitation to play! They jump on you. You push back. How fun! Another fun game is when your dog barks at you and you talk to them or pet them in an attempt to quiet them. The dogs quickly learn how to get your attention. When an excited dog is talked to, touched or sadly even yelled at the dog can find this form of interaction rewarding. Such reinforcement will have the dog getting your attention by barking.

Excited dogs love attention and any attention is good as far as they are concerned. Withdrawing your attention is the worst thing that can happen from their perspective. It does not have to be for very long. In fact it needs to be a very short period of time, often only a few seconds. Ideally you return to your dog while he is still feeling the devastation of your abandonment. He will soon learn that quiet, calm behavior gets him attention and other antics get him left behind.

Tip of the week: If your dog's behavior is not harmful, dangerous or destructive the best way to deal with it is to ignore it. Bark questions to: Canine Companion, 11652 North - 825 West, Huntington, IN 46750 or email

Canine Companion conducts dog training classes in Fort Wayne, Huntington and surrounding communities and behavior consulting nationwide. Along with their combined 30 years experience and endorsement by national organizations, the lead trainers are graduates of Purdue University's DOGS! Program and have earned the title of Certified Pet Dog Trainer through the Association of Pet Dog Trainers.