3 Ways to Calm an Overly Excited Dog

One of the characteristics most of us love about dogs is how excited they get about the most ordinary things like meals, walks and chasing a ball. They have the ability to get joy out of just about anything, and it’s fun to look at the world through their eyes.

But what if that excitement gets to be a little too much? What if your dog jumps up on your guests, nearly knocking them over? Or barks and lunges at other dogs on walks? Or whines excessively in the car on the way to park? Or can’t quickly calm down after you’ve returned home?

An overly excited dog can cause stress and pose a hazard to you, your home and others…including other dogs in your household. Teaching your pup how to calm down is one of the best things you can do to ensure both peace and safety in your household. Here are a few tips to get you started:

Reinforce the behavior you want

It’s easy to inadvertently reinforce overly excited behavior. For example, let’s say your dog runs, spins and jumps when it’s time for a walk, making it difficult to leash him up. When you finally do get the leash on him, you head out the door, effectively rewarding him for his excitement.

However, if you wait until he’s sitting politely before opening the door, he’ll begin to understand that the calm behavior is what gets him the reward. The more consistent you are, the quicker your dog will make the connection.

Offer plenty of physical and mental exercise

Some dogs – especially herding and sporting breeds – just naturally have a lot of excess energy to burn. If they’re not given positive ways to channel that energy, they may find alternatives that are unacceptable to their owners.

If you have a high-energy dog, look for outlets that will challenge your dog’s body and mind. Organized sports like agility, flyball, and rally are great options. But there are plenty of activities you can do at home like fetch, hide and seek and tricks training…in addition to your daily walk, of course.

Stay calm yourself

When you walk in the door after a long day, it’s wonderful to be greeted by a dog who’s SO excited to see you. But if you match his high level of energy with your own, you could be accidentally ramping up his excitement. The same goes for dogs who bark, lunge, whine or pull. Trying to get them to calm down by yelling at them or yanking on the leash usually has the opposite effect.

Encourage calm in your dog by staying calm yourself. For example, greet your dog warmly but keep your body relaxed and your tone soft. If your dog gets too excited on a walk, calmly ask him to sit and reward the behavior, or take him out of the situation entirely.

With patience and persistence, these techniques will work with most dogs. But never hesitate to contact a professional trainer for additional help in working with your overly excited pup.