Being greeted by an overly excited dog—or merely being around one— is a scenario most of us have experienced. Extreme enthusiasm is a behavior that can and should be managed. Making it easier for you, and your guests to get in the door. Here are nine tips to help your dog stay calm in exciting settings.
1. Know your breed
Some breeds of dogs are more energetic than others, particularly working and athletic breeds. Divert their energy in exciting situations into something they are naturally drawn towards — that could be a retrieve, a herding technique, or asking them to “place” in a certain spot in your house upon someone’s arrival.
2. Go back to basics
They’ve probably mastered the basic commands like sit, stay, or rollover. However, using these simple commands in a time of excitement is an excellent way to focus your dog’s energy. Remember to always have treats to reward your dog when they calm down and obey commands.
3. Check yourself
Your dog cannot be calm if you are not calm — so, also check your own energy. Try to always enter the house calmly — even if you’re scrambling back in to look for your missing car keys.
4. Cold shoulder
If your dog does not respond to commands like “sit” or “down” in exciting situations, your attention is just reinforcing their behavior. Try ignoring your dog. No eye contact, touching, or talking — we promise it’s more painful for you than your dog. Your dog will realize there’s no reward for that behavior and will resort to behavior they know is rewarded with attention — like bringing you a toy. When they show this calmness, be sure to praise them.
5. Go for a walk
Sometimes dogs display too much excitement because they need to go on a walk. Consider walking your dog long enough so that it is pleasantly exhausted when you get home. Be sure to know your dog’s limits.
6. Wear a backpack
If your dog is excitable during walks, put a backpack on them. The extra weight physically reminds them to stay down, and it helps them feel purposeful and get a better workout in. Here is an article that explains the many benefits of dog backpacks.
7. Take breaks
It might seem counterintuitive, but taking breaks in between play or exercise is important for controlling your dog’s overall levels of excitement. When your dog is active, they are already in an excited state. Taking breaks teaches them how to transition from excitement to calm.
8. Sniff safari
Dogs live in a world of smells. Being able to sniff things stimulates a part of your dog’s brain that releases dopamine, which is important in regulating anxiety. Sniffing can be soothing, reduce stress, and turn excess energy into calm behavior. You can place interesting things around the house and yard for your dog to smell. Or go for a walk in the woods.
9. Food puzzle
Use a food puzzle when feeding your dog. Food puzzles engage your dog’s mind, which helps to redirect excess energy. Have a food puzzle prepared to give your dog when you know you’re expecting company.
Do you have any other tips for helping your dog manage their excitement? Head over to our Facebook page and let us know!