Saturday, January 12, 2013

10 tips on how to calm an over excited dog...

When you are training and working with your dog, have you ever noticed if he becomes more excited with certain tricks (behaviors)? Does one particular behavior seem to send him into a whining, barking frenzy? 

What could have happened is that when you originally trained the trick, he was doing a whine or bark at that time, but you were so excited that he was getting it, that you ignored the bark and whine. Chances are you captured and trained those unwanted behaviors too. The dog has attached the over aroused whine or bark with that particular trick. 

Here are a few ideas on what to do:

1. Do not reward the dog for the behavior if he is barking or whining while doing that particular trick. Wait until he does the behavior without barking and then reward.

2. Go back a few steps and retrain the trick. Breaking it down into smaller chunks and set the dog up for success each step of the way.

3. If the trick is on a verbal cue and that seems to get the dog excited, then work on changing the verbal cue. This might just be enough to change the dogs emotional response to that particular behavior.

4. Try doing the trick from a different position. For example: If you normally start a leg weave from your heel position and that gets the dog overly excited, try starting the leg weave from your right side instead. 

5. End the training session for a few seconds as soon as the dog barks or whines, then in about 30 seconds to a minute try again. Calmly do this, do not get upset or angry, just simply say "all done" and stop training for a bit. 

6. Work on something that is calm prior to doing the trick that is exciting. Then do the exciting trick and immediately go back to the calm trick. Ping pong back and forth to keep the dog in a calm state of mind.

7. Use calming signals to try to calm your dog down. Calm yawns, soft eye blinks, small lip licks, and turn your head away slightly. 

8. Use a Thunder Shirt to keep your dog calm, but don't use it as a cure all. You might need to use many of these other suggestions too.

9. End a training session before the dog gets over aroused. 

10. Start a training session with a calm dog. If your dog is never calm, then that is a whole different lesson. :) I'll have to address how to do that another time. 

Keep in mind that not all dogs respond the same way. My Border Collie Bandit loves it when I am energetic and vocal. However, my Border Collie Twix can get too over aroused if I am energetic and vocal. So, with Twix I am quiet and calmer when I work with him. 

Have a great day! 


  1. I have a 9 month ons border collie. I have been a dog trainer for 12 years in agility, obedience and sheep herding. well I have this problem that h can't seem to get this dog to understand. he is very smart in some ways. I can take him out to play and train him. but once j bring him back in the house he will run though the house and bounce off my walls and jump all over my older border collie I have tried to keep a leash on him and keep him by me. I have tried puttinv him in the kitchen with the baby gate and he jumps it. I don't know how to get him to stop and behave in the house. iv asked some other trainer and they said just get ride of him. but he is really good with my 3 year old son. I just want him to be good in the house not a phyco dog Any help would be great never have I had a border act like this and iv grown up with them my hole life. thanks April

  2. Have you tried teaching him to be calm in an area where there isn't anywhere else for him to go. It might sound strange, but if you taught him how to settle and relax at your feet and started training it in the restroom where there is no where for him to run or go, he would eventually lay down and you would be able to reinforce him for calmer and calmer behaviors. Training calmness is so much different than training agility, obedience or herding. It is all about looking for calmer behaviors and secretly (without the dog staring at you) rewarding your dog with treats. It sounds like he would benefit from learning to be calm. You could also first use a mat. Here is a video on how to train a dog to settle on a mat. Feel free to leave me another comment if you are not able to see the video or if you do not understand it. I am happy to help! Pam

  3. Great ideas! Zenzi is getting better about her explosive enthusiasm for play. :)

  4. Instead of barking my Kelpie nips/snaps at my hands. I can't use any hand signals at all, he will snap at my hand if I do, :( Do you have any ideas on how to stop this? I could have my hand still pointing to his crate, and he will run to his crate but snap at my hand as he goes by. He does this with the tunnel, or any tricks with a hand signal. I really want to teach him more tricks and start agility foundation since he gets bored easily and needs to be working, but I can't if he snaps at my hand. I've tried clicking for when he is calm when my hand is waved around, I would start waving my hand then pointing it and click when he looks away. I did this for a month until last week, he seemed to get the idea so I thought I'd finally try sending him to the tunnel. I sent him to the tunnel with a hand signal and he snapped at my hand. ;|

  5. Hi Molly,
    I would say to continue doing the clicking for reaching towards him, waving your hands, or any movement you can think of. Keep doing it, if it was working, while you were just in your house, you will need to increase your criteria. So, start with you being still and by clicking as you move your hand towards him, give a treat. You will be clicking and treating him for just not nipping at your hands. I would personally not even care if he looked away or not. Just if he does not nip, click and treat. You are training an alternate response of doing basically nothing as you move your hands. Once he is really good at that with you standing or sitting still (except for your hands of course), then add a bit of movement (you move and walk around) and as you walk click and treat him for your hands moving and him not nipping at you. I think that when he is running and you are moving it is over stimulating for him and he gets too excited and snaps at your hands. That is what it sounds like to me. You might continue to play this reaching hands moving game a lot, just to desensitize him to your hands moving. Good luck! Pam

  6. Wow! Thank you so much for this wonderful tips my friend. I needed a lot of effort to let my dog behave well. But it doesn't seem to work out. I hope that your tips and advise will help my dog learn in a quick period of time.