What do you do when your happy dogs’ tail has become a whip? Do you put him in another room when you have company, remove all items off of your coffee table for fear his whipping tail will break your prize possessions? Are you thinking of amputating his tail to keep from having to wash the blood off the walls and his continued licking at his wounded tail?
Fear no more; before you go the surgical route or ban him to the backyard, try this simple behavior modification training approach. You’ll be able to keep this happy dog happy and much less anxious. A hyper dog is an anxious dog and it’s part who they are and part our overindulgence that perpetuates this behavior. We all want our dogs to be happy when we come home but do they need to be so excited that they are out of control?
A dog is always matching a leaders’ energy. If you come home and go crazy with excitement then you are teaching your dog to go crazy too and match your energy. Before you know it, your dog has become out of control during greetings and because he thinks you like it, whenever he feels like playing or getting your attention he will display this kind of excited behavior any time he wishes. When your dogs asks for attention this way and sometimes gets it and sometimes doesn’t he will continue to try often times succeeding. When you don’t play his game, perhaps getting upset with him because you aren’t in the mood he gets confused. Confusion always breeds anxiety in some form.
Modifying any kind of behavior takes careful consideration of meeting your dog’s needs first. A hyper dog is not getting their needs met mentally and physically. By this I mean that he is most likely not being trained on a regular basis in distractions so as to become the respectful follower to his leader, YOU. He is probably not getting his physical needs met either by going to a dog park, hiking, playing fetch, swimming, etc. A tired dog is a happy and less anxious dog.
You may say that your dog isn’t hyper but still hurts us with his tail. This could be true and you can still modify this excitable tail wagging behavior.
Upon homecoming, ignore your dog for a minute or two. Read your mail, check your voicemail, and get busy with some task taking your attention off of your dog. You will notice that your dog is looking at you for his normal excitable greeting but is not getting it. Be patient, continue moving toward whatever you will distract yourself with to ignore your dog. Ignoring means, no eye contact, no talking, NO CONTACT! You will see you dog calm down and after this time you may very quietly in a soft, calm and quiet voice gently bend over and say hello to him. If he starts up getting excited with this, then stand up and ignore again. Don’t’ worry, your dog will still love you; he will just learn to love and greet you appropriately.
When your dog becomes excitable at other times, when settling in for the night cuddling w/ you on the couch, getting ready to go out for a walk, company coming over, treat time, any transition time, you must do the same thing, ignore him. Take all your attention off of him and wait w/out eye contact or verbal contact for him to settle down. If you must walk away, then do so. When you return to whatever you were doing and he starts up again, stop, ignore and wait. He will calm down, you just need to hold out and not give in. Remember, he is counting on you giving in. You always have. What seems like hours is really only a minute or two. The greeting happens when he is calm and the quiet greeting is the reward. By doing this you will be reshaping and modifying the behavior.
I have found that 99% of dogs will calm down in less than 90 seconds. Be patient, be a leader and remember training and exercise are a must for all dogs and more for hyper dogs.