[nagdu] Improving house behaviors of ENERGETIC dogs

Julie J. julielj at neb.rr.com
Sun Aug 16 11:52:04 UTC 2015

To me it sounds like he has a lot of excess energy.   You are on the right 
track with removing the toy or having him lie down.  I would resume the play 
session in a few seconds or a minute, when he calms down a touch.  If you 
wait for full calm, I think you are going to be waiting for some time and it 
will be frustrating for him.   He should be able to learn when excited at 
this age.   If he misses when grabbing at a toy and gets your hand with his 
teeth, yelping in a high pitch voice can be a strong deterrent.  It works 
better with young puppies, but it can't hurt and it may help him to 
understand in his language.  It's what a puppy would do if another puppy was 
too rowdy.

On playing with other people...I'd recruit a few sturdy friends who are up 
for helping you do some training sessions.   Have the friend cross her arms 
and turn away if he jumps or even if he gets too rowdy.  It's negative 
punishment by removing the reward.    In this case I think it will be much 
more effective than a collar correction.  You could then ask him to sit or 
down or something easy for him that you are confident he will be successful 
with.  this will do two things: get him to stop jumping and reinforce that 
you make the rules.

Extra exercise,challenging puzzle games or training him to do silly tricks 
or additional tasks would also help.   You could work him more in harness, 
but it would probably mean a lot of walking, like several miles at least. 
It sounds like he could go for a long while walking.  If there is an area 
where he can run a bit, a Flexi leash could work.  You could randomly ask 
him to come to you and sit to reinforce that he still needs to mind you even 
when having some free play.   There are lots of puzzle toys available.  Some 
use food, some don't, but they would occupy his mind, which can be just as 
tiring as physical exercise.  Teaching him additional skills is also good 
mental exercise and it could be physical exercise too.  A few winters ago I 
worked with Monty on what I call dancing.  What it really is is working on 
staying in heel position no matter how I spin or turn.  There's a book, "101 
things to do with a box" by Karen Pryor that is excellent with clicker 
training ideas for small spaces, busy dogs and not a lot of time to plan out 
something specific.

I do think with time and practice he will be able to play with other people, 
if that's what you want.  Maybe scale it back a bit to where he can be 
successful and keep working on it, increasing the rowdy factor very, very 
gradually.   Maybe try less exciting toys or tossing them not as far or not 
as fast or around friends that he doesn't get so excited about.  I know my 
dogs get super wound up around a couple of people I know, my Dad and one 
particular friend, other people might as well be lamp posts, they are that 
exciting to the dogs!  LOL

Good luck!
Courage to Dare: A Blind Woman's Quest to Train her Own Guide Dog is now 
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-----Original Message----- 
From: Julie McGinnity via nagdu
Sent: Sunday, August 16, 2015 12:18 AM
To: NAGDU Mailing List,the National Association of Guide Dog Users
Cc: Julie McGinnity
Subject: [nagdu] Improving house behaviors of ENERGETIC dogs

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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