Boy, do I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say their dog was “hyperactive” – I’d be a wealthy woman. To get a hyper puppy or dog to stop jumping up or biting at you, I recommend ignoring unwanted behavior and rewarding calm behavior. But that’s easier said than done. I’m reminded of that now that we’re fostering a dog who has his moments where he’s just plain crazy. To get my attention, Cuddles is often leaning on me, jumping, biting or trying to crawl onto my lap. I know I need to ignore these kinds of behaviors, but it’s difficult. So, I thought I’d write a post about it with my own advice to myself. And hopefully some of you could give me some ideas as well.
How to ignore a hyper dog or puppy that’s demanding attention
1. Use a firm “NO!” I know we’re in this odd dog-training world where people actually say you shouldn’t tell a dog “no.” The reasoning behind this is you don’t want to scare the dog, and some say you don’t need to use punishment to teach the dog good behavior. “OH BOY! SHE SAID NO! SHE’S ACKNOWLEDGING ME!” Another problem with using “no” is the dog might view any attention as just that, attention – “Oh boy! She said no! She’s acknowledging me!” So, a lot depends on the dog’s sensitivity and how serious you are. Telling Cuddles “no” works sometimes, and sometimes it just makes him more excited.
2. Stand up and turn your back to the dog or walk away. Usually a dog is asking for your attention when she’s jumping on you, but she’s asking for attention in a rude way. ONE THING YOU CAN DO IS JUST STAND TALL AND COMPLETELY STILL WITH A STRAIGHT FACE, IGNORING HER 100 PERCENT.The advice many trainers will give is to just turn your back to the dog and ignore her, which is great advice. However, some dogs – like Cuddles – will make this into a game. He loves to just run around me in circles jumping on me from whatever way I turn. If your dog does this, one thing you can do is just stand tall and completely still with a straight face, ignoring him 100 percent. Then, either wait for him to calm down or simply turn your back to him and calmly walk away to focus your attention on something else.
3. Hand the dog a toy. When Lana is biting at me for attention, one option is to hand her one of her toys and then ignore her.
4. Say ‘ouch!’ when the dog bites you. The idea with this method is to “yelp” in “pain” if your puppy bites you because this is what pups do when they’re wrestling and biting one another. This method hasn’t worked well for me, because a lot of dogs think it’s a game. The high-pitched noise gets them excited. However, it’s worth a shot because all dogs are different, and it’s important to follow up by completely ignoring the dog immediately afterwards. I recommend standing up and walking away without saying anything and without looking at the dog. You bite me. Fun is over. The good news is you only need to ignore the dog for about 45 seconds (short attention spans). Just be prepared to walk away again if she bites when you return.
5. Use a leash for more control. Since Cuddles is not trained, I can’t tell him to stay on a dog bed. I can put him in his crate with a chew toy, but I want him to learn to be calm outside of his crate. So, until he’s learned to stay on command for more than 30 seconds, one option is to put his leash on him, have him lie down at my feet with a toy, and then step on the leash so he can’t get up. This is an option for when we’re doing something like watching TV.
Other tips to help calm the dog or puppy
1. Provide the dog with plenty of exercise. If a dog is annoying and “crazy,” it’s usually related to a lack of exercise. It’s just so much easier for the dog to settle down if she’s at least somewhat tired. I know Cuddles needs more exercise. I’ve only been walking him for about 20 to 30 minutes per day. Starting today, I’m increasing that to 60 to 90 minutes. He needs it.
2. Work on obedience training. Dogs that have solid obedience skills have a higher level of self control in general, and they also have respect for their owners. If your dog doesn’t know the basics like sit, down, stay and come, then work on those for five minutes a day, a few times per day. Cuddles is in the process of learning “sit” means “sit and remain sitting until I release you.” We’re up to 30 seconds.
3. Feed the dog from Kong toys and other puzzle toys. I stopped feeding Cuddles from a bowl. Instead, he gets food during training sessions . This makes him drain some of her mental and emotional energy, plus it gives him something to do and a reward for his “work.”
What ideas do the rest of you have? I need them. I haven’t had a young dog around in a long time! 😉