There’s nothing quite like the joy of coming home to an excited, happy dog. However, some dogs can become overly excited while out and about, jumping up on their guardians or others.
Kim Monteith, BC SPCA manager of animal welfare, shares tips and tricks for calming your overly excited dog and helping you manage your dog’s behaviour.
Understanding the behaviour
There are many reasons why a dog can become overly excited.
Your dog’s excitement is a natural reaction to seeing you or people they know, finding new smells, or seeing things that make them happy. However, things can become a little difficult when your dog doesn’t settle down quickly.
The first thing should do is to make sure you don’t reinforce such behaviours with attention, as this can encourage your dog to repeat the unwanted behaviour.
Helping to calm an overly excited dog
When your dog becomes overly excited and jumps on you, Monteith recommends ignoring the behaviour and redirecting them to a desired behaviour. “Turn away and ask your dog to sit. Once they do it, praise them and reinforce what you want by rewarding them with something they love, like a treat or petting them,” says Monteith. “By ignoring the behaviour you don’t want, in this case, your dog jumping on you, you are ensuring you are not reinforcing that behaviour.”
Keep in mind that consistency is key when it comes to managing your dog’s behaviour. All members of the household should be on board with this approach, and you should do your best to inform your friends to ignore your dog’s behaviours when they are overly excited.
TIP: Turn away and redirect
- Ignore the behaviour: When your dog begins to jump up or become overexcited, turn away from them and ignore the behaviour.
- Ask your dog to sit and stay: For this to work, your dog should already be trained to understand the sit and stay cues.
- Once they do it, reinforce the behaviour by praising and rewarding them with a treat or petting them
Teach them alternate behaviour by redirecting their attention away from the stimulus and offering a reward your dog loves. This reinforces the new behaviour and helps you manage your dog’s excitement levels.
TIP: Toss treat to interrupt the behaviour
This is an excellent tip for an emergency. If your dog starts getting excited again:
- Toss treats: By tossing treats for your dog, you are giving them a chance to interrupt the behaviour
- Your dog gets busy getting treats and stops jumping
- Think ahead and be aware of the environment so you can prevent the behaviour from happening
“Tossing a treat interrupts behaviour and moves the dog away from the person. This gives them time to move away. Tossing treats also keeps the dog’s head and feet down, so they learn good things are on the ground,” says Monteith.
Being a mindful and responsible dog guardian is essential to managing your pet’s behaviour.
Pay attention to your dog’s wants and needs and look out for natural behaviours that are often misunderstood by humans.
“Keep in mind, dogs will be dogs, and they are trying to communicate with you – if they’re chewing on the leash or anxious to get going on their walk, they’re just being dogs, and they’re not trying to be bad or make you upset,” Monteith says.
Take the time to provide them with adequate exercise, socialization opportunities, and training to help prevent this behaviour from developing. Remember, you need to teach your dog what you want them to do.
Seeking help to manage your dog’s behaviour
If your dog is exhibiting unwanted behaviour such as jumping, that is hard for you to manage, you can take action to address these behaviours by consulting an AnimalKind accredited dog trainer. They can help you create a plan that will keep your dog happy and calm while building a stronger bond between you and your dog.
Helpful resources for dog parents
- Preventing or reducing excitable dog behaviour (PDF)
- Trainer tips for 5 common dog training challenges
- Tips for walking a reactive dog – AnimalKind
- Managing an aggressive dog
- Preventing and reducing excessive dog barking
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