Dog owners often complain that their dog is too excitable in the home, so they take them for a walk to calm them down. However, this could be counter productive if it’s the walk that’s getting them hopped up – there is such a thing as over-excitement…
When we talk about a dog being aroused, we are referring to her state of excitement and therefore control. A dog who is highly aroused is excited, has a fast heart rate and will be unable to control herself which can result in vocalisation, jumping, panting, mouthing, spinning in circles or any other excessive behaviour. This high state of arousal is stressful for the dog, and her body will respond accordingly.
As with humans, a dog’s body releases certain hormones when stressed and even when the period of excitement has ended, the hormones don’t dissipate immediately, they remain in the bloodstream for several hours.
If you engage your dog in high levels of excitement every day, his body will be continually exposed to stress and the associated hormones, so a state of over-excitement will become his norm. Not only does it mean that your dog’s body is subject to undue stress, but he will also have trouble controlling himself or calming down. Dogs who play fetch endlessly often can’t cope with just seeing the ball or launcher, while dogs who regularly socialise with other dogs might start getting worked up by walking to the park. Owners who make a big fuss of coming home or going for walkies will also encourage over-excitable behaviour at the sound of the key in the lock, or when the lead and harness are picked up.
Instead of putting your dog under regular high levels of stress, find calmer alternatives and save the really exciting activities for special occasions. If off lead walks are too exhilarating, try some on-lead times just sniffing the local area instead. Ignore your dog when you come home so that it doesn’t become a big deal, or make your dog work for your attention by getting him to sit quietly in his bed before you acknowledge him. Work your dog’s brain instead of just his fitness, and you will have a calmer, more manageable hound.
For more ideas on mental stimulation, see our article here, or for more information on helping your dog achieve a calmer way of life, book our trainer Tom for a consultation.
Written by: Lucy Ellis