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The Trouble with Excitement

Training Philosophy

The Trouble with Excitement

Often, when we see a dog who is clearly bored and not challenged enough (and probably destructive, loud, obnoxious), we think that increased physical exertion must be the key to finally “tiring him out”.
Owners start going to great lengths and play ball for hours, take their dogs to day-long play dates at daycare, get a second dog or make similar extensive commitments of time and money.

Here is the problem with this: Excitement creates prolonged excitement. When your dog is racing around the park like a maniac, not listening to you and being out of his mind with craziness, his body is flooded with adrenaline and cortisol. This takes a while to wear off again – and it can and will mark signs of exhaustion. Evolution has designed your dog to not lie down when he is tired, but when the hunt is done.

While you are throwing the ball for the 237th time, your dog is chasing the ball because he will (and can). not. give. up. He will run with you past exhaustion, he will play with other dogs way longer than he “needs” to. And he will take a long time to come down from his high.

I am not saying to not use high intensity exercise, quite the contrary – I think it is crucial for dogs to run, jump, play and be physically active.
However, we need to invest a substantial amount of time into helping them get off their exercise and excitement rush, not just into creating it.

Cut your session of fetch at the park in half, and use the remaining time to walk around and let your dog sniff.
Interrupt a wild play date with a doggy friend with some controlled exercises
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRm-082Oizg).
If your dog visits a daycare, make sure they have at least one break during which the dogs are separated and nap.

Try out conditioned relaxation and make certain times of the day a non-negotiable quiet time.

You’re in charge of your dogs’ mindset. If you only help them get hyped up, they will be hyped up. If you guide them in relaxation as well, both you and them will be happier.

Happy training!

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