Is your dog over-excited when they go out on walk? How do you prevent it from happening in the first place? PART 1 OF OVER-EXCITED DOGS OUT ON WALKS!
Your not sure how it happened but your dog now gets very excited (maybe even over-excited) towards people and/or other dogs. Your dog might whine, cry, bounce around on the lead, pull towards the other dog and even give out an almighty high-pitched squeal! Sometimes, your dog’s emotions can turn from excitement to frustration as they are restricted on lead from getting what they want! They want to get to the other person or dog of course! Your dog’s behaviour might then turn to barking, lunging, circling, jumping up and down in one spot and even redirecting towards you or another dog they are being walked with. So what should you do? As the following information is general in nature and not individualised, you should have a full assessment and behavioural consultation conducted by a qualified professional Canine behaviour consultant. Please reach out here if you need help! Before we look at strategies to implement with dogs displaying these behaviours, let’s look at how we can prevent it in the first place! It’s important to understand what your dog gets out of doing these behaviours? The reinforcer for your dog is most likely the opportunity to meet and interact, to sniff and explore, get more information about the other dog and/or person and to get some attention and affection. However, the problem is that the lead restricts your dog from moving towards the person to receive the reinforcer/s. For those dogs, accessing a person and/or dog out on their walk is highly reinforcing for them. Not all dogs though want to go up to strange dogs and people they don’t know. As puppies, and unfortunately in our society, people think it’s ok to come straight up to a person’s puppy they don’t know and pat, interact and pick up your puppy. Whilst this not only invades the puppy’s personal space and takes away his or her choice and control to interact, it teaches your puppy (that finds people and other dogs highly reinforcing) that walks are for going out and seeking out other people and dogs. And that can be cute when your dog is a puppy! You might even like it! But what happens when your puppy turns into a 60kg full grown dog that does that? Or what if one day you don’t want your dog going up to a person or another dog? But your dog has learnt, that is what walks are for! From early on, it would be useful to teach your puppy that when dogs and/or people are walking by or present in the environment, we can allow puppy to socially process their appearance and presence, remain calm and move around them (just one example). And we need to heavily reinforce that! We want puppies and dogs to take their time to socially process their environment but that doesn’t mean we go up to (or let puppy go up to) every single dog we see and every single person we see. Walks in the neighbourhood should also be a time when the caregiver and the puppy/dog are interacting and bonding, having fun together, listening to each other, playing and exploring together. Notice I say the word together! The caregiver is not just the person on the other end holding the lead (and many times looking at their mobile phone!). What does puppy learn when we do it this way? That walks mean we go out exploring, spend time together and have fun together rather than going out to seek other people and dogs. Now, if you have adopted a dog who is already displaying these excitable behaviours, stay tuned for my next blog on what to do about it! And remember, if you are needing help on your over-excitable dog, we are here for you! Feel free to book a consultation with us! Dogaholics Dog Training and Behaviour Services