This Week’s Dog Behavior Question: My dog gets all excited when it’s time for a walk or when we pick up the car keys. He runs around. Jumps on the door. Jumps on me and doesn’t hold still for me to put a leash on. This happens all the time and I want him to calm down.
What can I do?
I think this is a really easy dog behavior to change and totally up to you.
- At walk time, head to the door and pick up the leash. If your dog starts his game, set the leash back down and walk away.
- Watch your dog’s behavior, and when he’s settled down, repeat. Head to the door and pick up the leash. When your dog gets excited, put the leash back until he’s calmed down.
- Repeat until he stands still – then you can put his leash on.
- Be prepared for it to take a few minutes for your dog to calm down enough and understand that when he’s calm, you will put the leash on and he gets to go out. That’s his reward.
Be consistent before each walk – consistency is the key to changing most unwanted dog behavior. He’ll learn that calm behavior gets him out the door.
You can relate this to other areas of his life. When people come to the door, mealtime, or any time he uses too much excitement to try to get what he wants. Often this excited running around is cute with puppies. The puppy learns that this gets attention. It continues and suddenly it’s not cute anymore and you want your full-grown dog to act grown up.
That’s why, when you have a new puppy, it’s important to start teaching him positive dog behavior right away using the food bowl. A food bowl is a great reward for good dog behavior and so easy to start with.
You simply hold the food bowl above the puppy’s head and wait for him to have all feet on the floor or to sit. As soon as he does, you set the food bowl down. If he starts to get up, you bring the food bowl up. When he keeps his feet on the ground or sits, put the food bowl down say o.k. (or whatever word you want to use to give him permission to eat) and let him eat. Your puppy is learning to control himself to get what he wants. Most dogs will learn this very quickly.
This is all part of positive dog training. No scolding, no loud voices, nothing physical. You’re helping your dog figure out what behavior gets rewarded.