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How to Calm Down an Over-Excited Dog

When you come home from a long day at work, it is nice to see a familiar face – especially if that face belongs to your dog who couldn’t be happier to see you. There are times, however, when your dog’s excitement can get out of control and you may feel as though there is nothing you can do to stop it once he gets going. The good news is that there are several simple things you can try to calm down your over-excited dog.

Teach Your Dog to Focus on You

If your dog has a tendency to get over-excited when people come to visit, you may find that it is difficult to control him in situations like this. Your dog might start barking and jumping around, ignoring all of your commands completely. To help curb this kind of behavior, you need to train your dog to respond to your commands each and every time – he should learn how to focus on you, even in the face of distractions. To teach your dog to look at you when you say his name, start out in your backyard (or another enclosed area) and let your dog off the leash so he can wander around freely. After a minute or two, say your dog’s name – if he turns to look at you, tell him “Good dog” and toss him a treat. Let your dog go back to wandering around for a minute or two, then repeat the sequence.

Once your dog has gotten the hang of looking at you when you say his name in the backyard, you can start to introduce distractions. Try getting your dog to look at you while you are out on a walk and there are other dogs around. Work on getting your dog to look at you for at least 5 to 10 seconds – you want him to remain calm for as long as possible while giving you his attention. This is the key to keeping your dog calm and under control in situations that would normally cause him to become over-excited. Once you are able to get your dog’s attention on command you can start working on his excitability.

Sit Before Going Outside

Many dogs become over-excited at the prospect of leaving the house, whether it be simply going out in the backyard or leaving for a walk. One of the simplest things you can do to control this kind of behavior is to ask your dog to sit before you let him outside – you want to make sure he is calm before you open the door and you will be rewarding his calmness with a trip out of the house. Start by calling your dog over to you when you are a few feet away from the door. Before your dog gets too excited, ask him to Sit – if he does, tell him “Good dog” and give him a treat. Repeat this sequence a few times until your dog responds consistently and then start moving closer to the door after giving your dog the Sit command.

Slowly work your way closer to the door every few repetitions, and reward your dog only if he remains calm and seated as you move toward the door. Eventually you will work your way up to touching the doorknob, then opening the door, all while your dog is sitting calmly. As a precaution, you may want to keep your dog on a leash during these training sequences just to make sure that he doesn’t bolt out the door. Keeping your dog on a leash during this type of training may also help to keep your dog from becoming overly excited when he is on a leash during your walks. Just remember to only praise and reward your dog when he remains calm – you want to teach him that becoming boisterous and overly excited will not get him what he wants.

By following the tips provided you can work with your dog to increase his ability to focus on you and to reduce his over-excitement in certain situations. Each dog is different so it may take your dog a few extra repetitions or an extra training session each day in order for him to master these training sequences. Just be as firm and consistent as possible and don’t be stingy with the treats!

Photo credit: SweetP2496/Bigstock

Please consult the services of a Professional Dog Trainer, Behaviorist or Veterinarian before implementing any of the advice contained on this site.