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Imagine you come back home from a tiring day and your dog comes running towards you. Sounds exciting, mushy and even happiness-inducing, doesn’t it? But today, we are going to go over an incident that will enlighten you more about how a dog’s mind works. We are going to discuss how hyperactivity in dogs can be a potential behavior issue.
This incident that I am about to share has occurred and OhMyDog has been able to tackle it the right way. This is Rio’s story, a hyperactive Golden Retriever.
One day, a family describes to me how their dog comes and jumps up & down all over people when they enter their house. They said that from the family members to outsiders, he doesn’t leave any chance to hop onto them. And the results? They tumble down or either get tensed. This keeps repeating and so much so that people are now scared to come home. This got them to worry and that’s why they reached out to me.
I asked them a simple question, “How did you respond to this behavior when he was a puppy?” And their response was as expected. They said that “When he was a puppy, his actions seemed cute to us. We’d show him affection because he’d be so happy seeing us that he jumped all around us. So, we showed affection”
I, then, cleared their confusion by telling them that ‘happiness’ & ‘excitement’ are two different emotions portrayed by a dog. Though they look the same, they differ from each other. Excitement is an unstable emotion in the dog world. And they have been nurturing this energy since his childhood which makes the dog think that what he’s doing is correct.
Let’s look at it this way, he is a puppy still learning about his environment and then he enters the room with excitement, raises his paws to jump upon you, you find it cute so you show affection towards the dog. But the fact is that he has been practicing unstable energy near the door. When he jumps on you or pushes you, he in fact practices dominance. And if you get scared, there’s a tension that’s created in that environment. With that, there’s also excitement. All of this can cause aggression in dogs.
However, the dog thinks that if he acts this way is only when he will receive affection. Therefore, he continues to act like that.
And this whole process continues till the day comes when the humans don’t find this behavior of his ‘cute’ anymore. But in all of this, there’s no fault of the dog. It’s humans who have to make a few changes in their behavior to bring about the desired changes in your dog. That means, the situation can be reversed, his behavior can be tuned down.
The drill here is to know which behavior is supposed to be nurtured and which isn’t.
So, how do we do that?
By building a meaningful relationship with your dog.
Before we delve deeper into that, we need to know an interesting thing about how dog’s sensory organs play a part in their behavior.
When dogs come to life, their nose is the first organ that starts functioning for them. Then, 15 days later, their ears open and slowly, all the other organs begin functioning. Also, their nose is how they find their mother & mother = to security & balance. That’s why they explore the world using their nose. So, it becomes necessary for us to connect with them via this organ. We have to connect with them like dogs.
As for humans, we begin functioning with our ears and that’s why we try to associate it with dogs as well. We try to talk to them with our voice, in turn making their ears function more than their nose. And when they use their eyes and ears more, it means that they’re moving more towards alertness. This causes nervousness & confusion in the dog and the balance gets interrupted. And that’s where things go for a toss. But it’s never too late to rectify those mistakes.
All we have to do is change how we meet the dog.
Here are some techniques you need to follow that will improve your relationship with your dog and also help you inculcate the desirable behaviors in him.
1) No touch, No talk, no contact method-
The technique here is to not make any kind of contact with the dog when you enter the home. Do not make noise, or excessive movements, or create a feeling of excitement when you enter the room. This way you’re allowing the dog to use his nose more which results in balance. He will start to associate you with balance and he will feel more connected with you. Confidence will start to grow inside of him.
This one simple technique helps them calm their hyperactivity, nervousness and they know that we, humans understand him.
This may seem difficult to do but when you do this, you gain respect from the dog because you set aside your emotions here and do what’s necessary for him!
This produces a happy, humbling effect on the dog.
After you have done the work, it’s time to observe the outcome. The first thing that you will notice is that the dog’s excitement will start to wear off. You may feel that the dog is sad but initially, he gets confused with your behavior. That’s obvious because here you’re trying to change his puppyhood habit. But slowly and steadily, he will calm down. Your job here is to observe how long he takes to calm down, his reactions to various things.
Keep nurturing the changes that you see in their behavior.
The aim is to nurture the dog, shower love calmly on him WHEN he calms down. This will make the dog understand that this calm behavior will now get him affection. Nurture calm behavior. And with time, he will start imbibing this behavior in himself.
To prevent this, we have to start practicing healthy habits of no-touch, no talk, no contact. This will help us raise calm, confident, and obedient dogs