Whether you’ve got a high-spirited puppy, very hyper dog or a more problematic, maybe even dangerous, case such as fear or aggression; a balanced approach and effective communication between human and dog makes all the difference.
This is my journey of how I discovered that the key to success in altering my dog’s bad behavior and hyperactivity is balanced training with both reinforcement and consequences along with strong leadership. I will share with you the lessons, techniques, and training tools that helped me solve the problem of how to calm a hyper dog!
The Journey Begins
When I rescued German Shepherd Luna at 18 months old, I had no idea of what I was in for. Sure, she looks like a dream dog and she had me fooled at first too but soon her true colors shone through as one of the more hyper dog breeds. It started out fairly benign; whining, jumping, whining, chewing, barreling over people, whining…did I mention that? She followed me everywhere around the house and when I left, that’s when the separation anxiety kicked in.
So, after she ate my coffee table(s), hardwood stairs, wall, couch and her own bed, that’s when things got bad. I discovered she had moderate to severe on-leash dog aggression as well as a high prey-drive, wanting to eat all small animals, especially squirrels. Lunging at the end of the leash, barking, snarling, growling – it was a spectacle.
Off-leash, she wasn’t dog aggressive per se, but she was a bratty, rude bully. She would play rough and aggravate her playmates until they finally snapped, and a fight broke out.
I was fortunate that she wasn’t human aggressive, but she was still bratty and pushy insisting on attention and affection and when she didn’t get it, she would whine and pout until I gave her what she wanted: play and fun. She was insatiable for play and fun and could not calm down and just relax!
Well, obviously she needs more exercise, right? I walked her more, no change. She was anti-social so I couldn’t take her to the dog park, but I would take her to gated parking lots and let her run and run. That didn’t work so I got an attachment for my bike and we would run for miles. That would exhaust her, and she’d be calm for a few hours but sure enough, back to her old self. She also ended up injuring her paw from frantically trying to run faster than I could peddle. I had to stop.
To YouTube! There is so much highly informative content out there and I couldn’t get enough. Between YouTube and binge-watching Cesar, I finally began to wrap my arms around the problem. It was not too much energy, but rather psychological imbalance. I know, dog psychology is a pretty silly concept, but all social animals have “psychology”, it’s really just a suite of behaviors and learning that help a population survive – but it can go awry.
Step: 1 – Identify the Problem, CHECK.
Step 2 – What to do about it?
So, I began my search for a trainer. There was a place here in Los Angeles that did day care and on-site dog training but there was a catch. Because it was a kennel free day-care, she was going to have to pass a test, a friendly-ness test…she bombed. The next guy I found was sure that the problem was a lack of respect which made sense, but his techniques were kind of “out there”, they ultimately were ineffective, and he didn’t even address the problem of how to calm a hyper dog.
I was beginning to feel distraught, like I was going to lose this battle. Now, I don’t like to lose any battle but more importantly, she was getting worse and I was afraid I may have to give her up.
Then, like a beam of shining light from the YouTube heavens, I found Ruff Beginnings Rehab. Bethany had a TON of videos and her techniques were simple and elegant. More importantly, based on the obvious results and transformations, her recommended tools and process worked.
Sure, she looks good on YouTube but maybe she’s just a master of editing? Luckily, she is in the Los Angeles area so, I sent her an email and signed up for her 3-week board and train program; what did I have to lose? When I dropped her off, I met with Bethany and when I drove away, for the first time in a long time, I felt hope; I knew she was in good hands.
I was definitely going to miss her, but I was excited to see the great dog that I knew was hiding under her neurotic outer shell…
Next: How to train a hyper dog part 2 ->