Dogs are naturally social creatures that enjoy attention. As a matter of fact, nothing more can make them go gaga than chancing upon their own kind, regardless of breed. That should not come as a total surprise because dogs came from a long line of ancestors who had thrived living in packs.
Why You Need to Teach Your Puppy to be Calm
Unfortunately, some puppies and even adult dogs find it hard to contain their excitement and go completely overboard when around other canines. A dog may bark, whine or lunge at other dogs when they are giddy. These actions may come from a friendly standpoint, but the other dog might perceive it as a threat, especially if their personal space is being violated.
If your puppy or adult dog acts this way, he might be in danger of being attacked by another dog. Also, if this hyperactive behavior is ignored, it may progress into aggressiveness. This tendency is more evident in dogs that show signs of fear and anxiety. But, addressing the issue should be done in the right manner. Yelling will not help and will only impose a sense of negativity to the dogs involved. Also, if you pull your leashed dog close to you when he is about to interact with another dog, this can create unwanted tension. If you reprimand your dog for acting this way, it will lead him to think negatively about associating with other dogs, fueling unwanted and negative behaviors.
Is Your Dog Excited or Stressed?
Did you know that dogs often look the same way when they are excited or stressed? This can be a shocker for most pet parents to realize what they once viewed as a happy behavior is actually a cry for help.
It is not bad for dogs to get excited, but there are key differences between:
- Stressed and anxious energy; and
- Happy and enthusiastic canine energy.
A dog’s energy depends on their mental state at the time. As owners, we often observe their physical behavior without understanding the true energy behind it. Dogs are “cute” when they are over-excited or over-stimulated, but this attitude is not ideal for your dog. Also, when we match this type of excited energy from our dogs, they respond with more excitement, heightening their already intensified feelings which can lead to unwanted behavior.
To identify whether your dog is exhibiting signs of anxiety or excitement, take note of how he behaves when he is in a relaxed state. You can see how comfortable a dog is based on his posture and behavior. It can also be characterized by a soft gaze with squinted or rounded eyes and ears slightly erect and placed forward (does not apply to dogs with floppy ears). When you talk to him, he acknowledges you by moving his ear backward and relaxing his mouth.
Other Reasons Your K9 is Overactive Around Other Dogs
- Aside from anxiety, your dog might be displaying fear. So when he acts in a reactive manner, other dogs and their owners may walk away in avoidance or fear, which is your dog’s intention if he is fearful.
- Another reason is frustration. Many dogs feel restrained due to the leash wrapped around their neck that holds them back whenever they are excited to see other dogs. You also see this type of dog behavior with closed fences and gates.
Defining Your Role as a Canine Parent
Your dog might be too overeager upon seeing other dogs. Acknowledging your dog’s need to be with other dogs is essential. But, he has to learn to approach potential friends – and even old friends – with confidence and calmness. To protect your furbaby and ensure that he is capable of handling different social situations, you need to identify the root cause of this excitement. As mentioned earlier, some dogs act all gung-ho when seeing other dogs to mask their anxiousness or fear. If this is the case with your dog, you will need to address potential issues with anxiety, fear or frustration when training your dog to be calm.
Prevention is better than cure, many would say. The easiest method to prevent your dog from acting out when they see another dog is to go the other way. But do not wait until your dog gets all riled up. Properly socializing your dog as soon as possible will also help avoid unwanted, unsocial and overexcited behaviors.
The following methods below can help your dog learn:
- To channel their extra energy into something positive; and
- Help them learn how to stay calm and collected when hanging out with his peers.
Two Ways to Calm Your Puppy Down
During training, use a well-fitted harness to protect your puppy’s neck if he lunges forward upon seeing another dog. You might also want to ask a friend to help out and lend you his or her emotionally-stable and mature dog that will not overreact to your puppy’s over-eagerness or unbridled playfulness. Always reward your puppy’s good behavior with his favorite treat!
Method #1: Calm to Me
- Enlist the help of a friend with a calm dog. Meet them in a park or have them join you and your leashed puppy for a walk. Keep all training short and fun
- Once you see your friend and their dog, ask them to stop at a distance where your dog is still comfortable and not becoming overexcited. Tell your dog to sit or stay.
- Ask the other dog to slowly approach. As soon as you notice your dog starting to go into a frenzy (timing is very important), ask your friend and their dog to stop, turn around, and walk away.
- Wait until your dog is calm once again and repeat the process. As long as your dog remains calm and remains in the sit and stay position, the other dog can continue to move toward him. But the moment he begins barking, lunging or getting aggressive, your friend and their dog should stop, turn around and walk away.
- Repeat the process for a few days until your dog fully grasps the concept and use this process to introduce to him other dogs.
Method #2: Sit and Stay
- Have your friend bring their calm dog over to your home. Before the dog and his owner come, place your dog on a leash.
- Once the new dog enters your premises, command your dog to sit or stay. Tug the leash gently to the side if necessary to get your dog’s attention (but refrain from pulling back).
- If your dog maintains a composed demeanor and obeys your orders, hand him a treat. Repeat several times with different dogs for several weeks until your dog automatically calms down without any command when seeing a dog.
- Once your dog has learned how to act properly when there is another dog, have him socialize with all kinds of other dogs.
Dogs are naturally sociable and reprimanding or pulling them back when they get excited will not resolve the underlying issue. Use the tips and methods detailed above to train your dog to be more social and less reactive with anxiety, over-excitement or even fear. Also, don’t be afraid to reach out for expert help! A dog trainer or behaviorist can help identify behavioral issues and design an effective plan of action to create a happy, confident and social dog!
Meet our Guest Blogger:
Brian Larsen is the Co-Founder and CEO of RejuvaPet, LLC — the creator of RestoraPet and RestoraPet Hemp. He spent nearly 10 years developing these products to rehabilitate and protect pets at the cellular level, for a vastly improved quality of life.