[nagdu] Improving house behaviors of ENERGETIC dogs

Julie McGinnity kaybaycar at gmail.com
Sun Aug 16 05:18:55 UTC 2015

Hi all,

I have had my dog Bill for over a year now.  Many of his undesirable
behaviors have improved.  He behaves so well in harness that you
wouldn't believe that at home he can be... quite the terror.

I had been working with the school to improve some of these behaviors
last winter.  He has so much energy.  He destroys toys, steals
laundry, jumps on people, paws people, and sometimes barks due to his
frustration when someone doesn't play with him.  Of course, none of
these behaviors are acceptable in my world, and many of them have
improved.  One thing I did last winter was limit all contact between
him and my friends.  For a few months, I didn't let them interact with
him at all-no petting, playing, nothing.  (And I should say here that
I'm talking off harness in my home; I never allow people to pet my dog
in harness.)  Then when some of his work issues improved, the rule was
that if he remained calm, they could pet him.  This seemed to work
well.  I have been trying to lift that rule, allowing them to throw
toys for him or engage him in some play with me right there playing
along or periodically calling him to make sure his focus could easily
return to me.

I give you this backstory so that you can understand what's happening
now.  The jumping (jumping!) has returned.  After like one week of the
new experiment to lighten these restrictions, I have to put them back
in place.  Here are my questions.

Have any of you had dogs that were unable to play with other people?
What would you suggest for healthy, positive energy outlets for
Labradors who enjoy destroying toys, stealing things that don't belong
to him, and running in circles?  He does chew on nyla bones but will
not play fetch.  I also live in an apartment and do not have access to
a yard in which he can run--but I do not like to let my dogs loose in
yards anyway.  Would more work help this problem or make it worse?

Should I keep encouraging calm?  Or should I try to release his energy
in other ways like I asked about above?  He thrives on attention.
When he paws me while playing or misses the toy and grabs my hand, my
solution is to make him lay down.  Then I do not give him attention.
Sometimes I have to get out the leash so that he will stay in place.
I try my best to face away from him without touching so that he knows
he will not get attention.  I understand that this is a form of
correction, but I don't know any other way to deal with this behavior.
I want his crate to remain a positive place, so I avoid using it as a
place to go when he plays too rough, but maybe that is the answer?

I am at a loss...  Any of you out there used to energetic dogs in
small spaces?  Help?  :)  Bill and I thank you.

Julie McGinnity
National Federation of the Blind of Missouri second vice president,
National Federation of the Blind performing arts division secretary,
Missouri Association of Guide dog Users President
graduate, Guiding Eyes for the Blind 2008, 2014
"For we walk by faith, not by sight"
2 Cor. 7

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