There’s nothing wrong with an energetic dog. What gets to be a problem is when overexcitement results in negative behaviors such as chewing, digging, pulling on the leash or jumping on strangers. We spoke to a trainer to learn more about how to channel that energy into positive behaviors.
Find an Outlet for Your Dog’s Energy
If you have an overexcited dog, the most important thing to do is find the best outlet for their energy. This could be running together, trick training, structured walks – anything your dog enjoys. By finding their outlet, you will drain their energy in a positive way, which leads to less excitement elsewhere. A lot of dogs who exhibit negative behaviors, like destroying your backyard or furniture, will benefit from a nice long run or hike. After all, a lot of humans also benefit from channeling their stress into working out. Had a stressful day at the office? Maybe it’s time to step on the treadmill! It works the same for dogs. Instead of taking a negative emotion, like boredom or separation anxiety, out on your throw pillows, they’ll burn off that energy by going on a walk or playing at daycare.
Break Down What Gets Your Dog Excited
The next step in humanely dealing with overexcitement is determining the cause. If your dog gets excited on leash, put the leash on at home when you are not going for a walk. Let your dog drag the leash around the house often. This will take the excitement away from the leash. Then, work on excitement at the door when you are leaving for their walk. Make them “sit” and “wait” while the door is being opened. By doing sit and wait, you make walking through the door less exciting because your dog will be focused on you rather than getting outside. Break everything down step by step. When your dog is excited outside, chances are they are excited before you even make it out the door. Start at the first smallest trigger and work your way up.
Give Your Dog a Positive Focus
Another great way to help bring down overexcitement is by giving your dog a positive focus. Work on maintaining eye contact with your dog through a “watch me” command. Say “watch me,” and every time they look at you, reward them with a treat. First have them learn this trick indoors when there are zero distractions. Once they master this exercise, slowly introduce more and more distractions. Start inside with very small distractions and work your way outside with more distractions. Once your dog can watch you while sitting outside, start to ask for their attention while you are walking. Keeping your dog calmly focused will help reduce the excitement they experience from the many distractions they run into while on a walk.