How to Curb Your Dog’s Enthusiasm

October 15, 2013

By Suzanne Alicie

I had to laugh when I saw this title, because I am owned by the queen of uncontrollable dogs. If someone knocks on the door, Bear will not stop barking until the person is inside and she can smell them, then she might continue barking if she feels like it. She’s not a jumper, but she sure is loud. I could probably work with her to stop this, but she’s an old dog and she’s pretty set in her ways. She isn’t harming anyone and is quite effective as a guard dog letting people know she is in the house and on the job. But not everyone can deal with this behavior in their dog, or perhaps their dog has other instances of boundless excitement and enthusiasm.

If your dog knocks you down racing out the door when you go for a walk or jumps up on guests, you may want to follow some of the advice below. It is important that you have a firm handle on control any time your dog is around people or out in public. A harness and leash does no good if your dog can drag you around willy-nilly as he chooses.

Basic obedience training is almost a must for puppies if you want them to be well behaved. Some people have the time to work with their puppies themselves, but if not then an obedience class will help. Learning basic commands such as sit, stay and quiet are imperative if you wish to control your dog when he gets excited. Whether you do this training at home with a large box of CANIDAE Pure Heaven treats and lots of patience or take your dog to a class, it is very important that he learn basic obedience commands.

After obedience training, your dog will still need to learn to follow your cues as to how to behave. For example, when someone knocks on your door, you probably want your dog to alert you but to stop barking once you’ve acknowledged and are on your way to the door. You can train your dog to stop barking when you respond to his alert with voice and hand commands. Linda Cole has explored impulse control in a post here on the RPO blog – understanding your dog is the key to training him!

Other excitement such as new people to sniff and jump on may be a little harder to control. Again, the basic obedience commands are important but you have to teach your dog with consistency how to behave in certain situations. I like to think of training a dog much like teaching children to behave. Certain guests or people you meet along the way may, in an attempt to be nice say, “Oh no, it’s okay” when your dog is shoving his nose in places that most people don’t appreciate or when your kid is having a meltdown. You are the owner of the dog or the parent of the child, and it up to you to make sure that they behave despite what someone says.

Consistent training and reinforcement of training is what it takes to curb your dog’s enthusiasm and teach him to behave properly in and out of your home. It’s not easy to be this consistent. I have mentioned before that I inadvertently taught Bear to be downright obnoxious about going outside. I thought it was cute that she would whine and jump and race down the stairs because she was so excited to go out. But wrestling her to get her leash on and seeing her do this anytime I get near her leash taught me that it’s not so cute. I’ve had to work on retraining her to behave before she gets the leash on and before I will go out the door with her.

While some of your dog’s exuberant behavior may be cute or funny the first time, if you encourage it, the behavior will become a habit. You can train your dog to misbehave much more easily then you can train him to control his enthusiasm. Be a responsible pet owner and work with your dog rather than throwing your hands up in exasperation and letting the behavior continue.

Top photo by FlyNutAA
Bottom photo by tishamp

Read more articles by Suzanne Alicie

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