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Leerburg Dog Training Blog

The best source for dog training news, tricks and treats, right from world class leaders in dog training.

The best source for dog training news, tricks and treats, right from world class leaders in dog training.
“My Dog Is Crazy!” Dealing with High Energy Dogs

“My Dog Is Crazy!” Dealing with High Energy Dogs

The alarm goes off at 5:30am…BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! My face, still buried in the pillow, reluctantly rises just enough to allow my arm to reach out in desperation to hit the snooze button.

There. Peace.

Moments later, “Yip, yip, yip!” goes the new client dog. This is the story of my life when it comes to checking in a new puppy (or even older dog) to my resident training program. As I begrudgingly drag myself out of bed, stuff my feet into flip flops, and fasten a robe around my waist in utter grumpiness the yipping escalates, and the dog is now like a tornado. The crate is actually rocking back and forth in MayTag washing machine fashion. By the time I am able to unlatch the crate door Fluffy has now turned into a Tasmanian Devil cartoon character, jumping, spinning, hair flying. If I am lucky I will avoid a bump to the lip.

By the time the new training dog (aka “The Heathen”) is taken outside to potty the rest of the household is now awake and ready to rumble. I have officially started the day off as a bonafide grouch. Only freshly ground and brewed Italian roast coffee will bring joy to life in this moment. I finish nursing my mug of steaming coffee bliss as I finish dog rotations.

It may not be terribly difficult to imagine this scenario. In fact, this is the root of many client frustrations I experience as a professional dog trainer and coach. Many of my new clients with super high energy, destructive dogs often admit to me that they attempted some sort of management/containment training with their dog, but not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and losing copious amounts of sleep, they gave up. Somehow, this started the slide down the slippery slope where the dog was then allowed to sleep loose, which led to destructive behavior or accidents. So the dog was put outside more to “burn off energy”, which led to barking dog complaints by the neighbor, barrier frustration, and so on. So, the client attempted to walk the dog, only to be further frustrated by a barking, unruly dragon at the end of the leash.

Never fear. It all goes back to basics first. While your new issue may be leash walking, it likely all stems with energy and behavior management around the home. By creating an energy burn plan for your energetic pooch in conjunction with training, you can get that adorable, furry monster under control. Here are some tips to help you out:

A tired dog is a good dog! A treadmill is a GREAT way to burn off a little extra energy before bedtime, on rainy days, or when you simply have a dog who needs a little extra burn before their daily excursions. I WALK my dogs predominately on the treadmill. The idea is not to get their fitness level so high that it exceeds your energy level, but to burn off a bit of energy in a slow, controlled fashion. Twenty minutes of “walkie time” as I call it on a treadmill will prepare you and your dog for a more enjoyable hike later in the day. Think of it as a warm up. You might add five minutes of trotting to get the tongue lolling, but mostly calm walking is best to condition a relaxed mind.

2) Teach your dog the concept of patience. We tend to go places. We always have a destination. In horse training there is a method of tying a horse on what is called a patience pole. They simply learn the skill of doing nothing for long periods affixed to a pole sunk in the ground. In dog training, your dog needs to learn to be patient and relaxed while on leash. YOU can be the patience pole. If it can be done with a thousand pound animal, surely we can teach Fido to just wait. Do nothing. Go no where. Coffee shop patios are great for this. Also, teach your dog to be patient and travel in a crate. They exit the vehicle calmer in most cases and allow you to get your equipment organized before the dog exits the vehicle so you aren’t in a mad rush. If you are rushing because your dog is wound up, who is in the driver’s seat?

3) Get the equipment to help you accomplish these things. Make a training box or bag. Training leashes, collars, Bitter Apple Spray for barking, squirt bottles, treats are all part of my training box. You may need a pro to help you properly implement their use and perfect techniques, but without the right gear you are wasting your time.

4) Pick three to four activities lasting an hour or more to do with your dog each week to burn exercise, then practice being a patience pole during that activity for 15 of those minutes. Hiking, biking, trip to the beach or lake, field trip to Petsmart or Home Depot, etc. Don’t wait to do your training until you have to make a vet appointment, or when your child is playing in a soccer game. Practice before you need the skills. With a high energy dog you may need to treadmill before you engage in these activities to manage their enthusiasm.

5) Enrichment treats: bones with frozen peanut butter on the inside, stuffed Kongs, knuckle bones, bully sticks, and pig ears are all example of some great enrichment items to create calmness while inside the home, kennel, or crate.

So, stock up your training bag. Get a strategy in place to pre burn some energy BEFORE your dog excursion, and schedule your weekly field trips. Put a plan in place and try it for two weeks and you will see a big difference in your dog’s behavior.

Who knows… you might even want to go to the next level and enroll in more challenging courses for fun!

 

Comments

  1. Avatar
    Carolyn Parchman
    June 15, 2017

    These are great tips and some we have used with our ‘not as calm as most Swissies’ Greater Swiss Mountain Dog, now three years old. She has several issues to be addressed but in line with this article, there is one specific thing we could use your help with. Coming into the house from backyard play time. She bursts through the door like Karmer. She runs around to everyone she has been locked away from leaping and bounding with enthusiastic greetings for all. I do make her stop before I open the door to let her in, but even so, once she is through the door she gets wild. It only lasts a couple of minutes, depending on how many people she has to meet and greet. But extremely disturbing.

  2. Avatar
    Diane
    June 15, 2017

    Thank you for the information. We have a 10#, 6 month (ish) mix breed puppy. She is now spayed, and expecting some of her energy to be bled off due the spaying was optimistic at best. Run her in back yard with fetching games (not always great at giving them back, working on it). Preventing her from chasing the cats; letting her play if one of the cats instigates but teaching her the over enthusiasm stops play with him (sometimes it actually will work); and STILL she is super high energy to the point I get asked what “pill” did I give her to get her going (ans: nothing). Kenneling her does calm her down, but taking her back out is an automatic 0 to 10, right now. Only late at night does the energy translate from larger (play pen) kennel translate to sleep in smaller bed kennel. Hopefully everything I am doing will eventually ratchet down the energy level; otherwise what am I doing wrong? FYI, yes working on basic obedience, working with and without clicker and treats.

  3. Avatar
    michael eudy
    June 15, 2017

    I recently took in a small dog that had been abandon near my work. The plan was never to bring it home, but feed and care for it at my commercial property. That was working fine until a larger aggressive dog wondered onto the property and attacked him. He almost died from the attack, but after a ton of stitches and and a few stints, I took him home to care for him. he is currently doing fine physically and emotionally. Because he has spent years roaming the outdoors he does not have the best indoor manors. On occasion he will leave his scented mark in the house when no one is looking. My wife is upset that I refuse to rub his nose in it and put him out when we find it. He is very smart and other than this issue he has integrated into our home very well. I come to you as I know you’ll have an idea that can help me keep my wife from throwing us both out.

  4. Avatar
    dana walker
    June 15, 2017

    when i have adopted older dobermans i go back to square one with house training outside after play/eating/drinking/sleeping/ and keep them close to you with a light lead so that you can avoid any accidents it takes about two weeks and they get the message good luck

  5. Avatar
    angie
    October 24, 2017

    wow….it only took a year for me to get this! the most important part of those suggestions was the “waiting”. Just having my high drive GSD sit with me and watch the world go by for a few minutes has been very important in curbing his low threshold for aggression and just plain enthusiasm,,,,,,great article

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