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How do you get a dog to calm down around people?

asked 2015-12-10 11:41:43 -0600

Our puppy is now about 11months old, and we have been working with her from the start on not jumping on people and trying to train her to stay calm when she sees someone. There were times when she was younger (and probably still true) that she would try to lunge across a street to get to people on the other side while there was traffic (thank goodness for her leash!). She has a lot more energy than most puppies I've seen or sat for, so I take her on off-leash hikes so she can bolt around. 99% of the time, she stays close and will come when called, but all bets are off if she sees another person or dog. Even if my husband or I step out of the house and come back a moment later, she is very excited to see us (though not as bad). She doesn't care when we leave, and she's completely fine being separated from us, and she doesn't have other symptoms of high anxiety or anything. As far as I can tell, it is pure joy and excitement. She is not aggressive. Here are all the things I've tried:

Intense physical exercise. Amazingly, not even remotely effective, either with new people in the house or going to another environment (vet) and seeing people.

Teaching "off."

Using "sit" when we come home to get pets. This has been the most helpful so far.

Teaching "bed" (aka go lie down). She takes convincing to go to bed around new people and whines if she shut the door or otherwise don't let her come out to greet them.

Clicker training to redirect attention. We have to be extremely far away from a person for this to even work for a second.

Gentle leader - Fine when no people/dogs are around, but then she throws herself to the ground trying to get it off when she sees a person/dog.

Ignoring - Moderately helpful for my husband and I, who she sees regularly. Not effective for new people.

I would like her to be able to calmly sniff someone when they come into our house and then LEAVE THEM ALONE. Is there ANYTHING else you can think of that we should try? She is highly food motivated, but we've been burning through treats just for a second of success from a mile away. The only other thing I can think of is to take her downtown and just not let anyone interact with her to desensitize her to people being around, but I know she would go nuts, and I worry that would be too stressful for her.

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I feel your pain! I've tried all these and what works best is a "go to rug" and then have the guest basically play red light/green light to approach ie: only approach when dog is sitting on her rug. She is three and we rescued her at two. May never "grow out of it" at least she loves people!

Kathryn K.'s profile image Kathryn K.  ( 2015-12-28 14:41:22 -0600 ) edit

10 Answers

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answered 2015-12-10 11:53:39 -0600

Here's another technique, the penny bottle:

http://www.canineminded.com/stop-dog-...

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answered 2015-12-22 14:56:38 -0600

The Dr's "ask a Vet" segment talks about this issue. https://youtu.be/Xvc3pNBaEMw We deal with this issue a lot in our rescue and I do use a "Swaddleshirt" for anxious or frightened dogs which is the same concept as the Thundershirt but a completely different design. Go to http://www.swaddleshirt.ca%3C/p%3E (www.swaddleshirt.ca)

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answered 2015-12-22 15:42:46 -0600

The penny can!!! simply genius!! I am currently using that with my puppy and it works like a charm. Put a few pennies in an empty can, and rattle the can once the dog starts to misbehave.

This is very effective!

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answered 2015-12-23 23:42:10 -0600

Most puppies are simply just over excited about everything and they will calm down with time and continued training. Just keep working at "off" to get down off people and making them sit each and every time the door is opened. This is not only good to keep your pup from jumping on people but also staying calm when you arrive, not running to escape the house, and you can even train the pup to sit when putting on the leash. It gets easily out of hand when a dog is over excited for a walk and they won't sit still enough for you to put the collar or leash on! Since your dog is food motivated, then continue to use treats for training. Hopefully your pup will catch on soon! I don't think keeping her away from people entirely is a good idea because then she will not be social as an older dog.

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This is so true; they need to meet lots of people and go with you everywhere when they are puppies so they will be socialized.

Ana Maria and Diana K.'s profile image Ana Maria and Diana K.  ( 2017-08-14 17:18:55 -0600 ) edit
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answered 2015-12-27 22:30:38 -0600

Work on self-control exercises with her as much as possible. Things like 'leave it,' 'wait' and 'stay.' You probably already work on these as part of her regular training at home, but try expanding the behaviors by practicing them in more distracting environments, like your yard, in a quiet park, at street corners, etc; you'll have to start slow whenever you increase the difficulty, and use really tasty treats or her favorite toy to encourage her. You want her to comfortable and familiar with delaying reward so she's able to control her excitement, so you can catch her before she misbehaves and reward her for her self control. She can wait patiently for you to give her the ok because she knows waiting will pay off more than not waiting.

For excitement while greeting strangers, see if you can enlist the help of some friends. When they're far enough away that she can still respond to cues, ask her to sit and wait. This may be very far away depending on how much she likes them. Continue to reward her for staying in place as you have them slowly approach. If she breaks her concentration, stop rewarding and have the person back off until she can regain control and try again. It may take a while, but eventually she should be able to stay seated as your helper approaches and you can release her to say hi. Set up as many practice sessions as you can and as she gets better at it, vary it up by having them carry something, walk with a dog, move more quickly, or talk to her as they approach to help her so she gets to practice with more real-life scenarios.

If you find yourself in a situation where you know she won't be able to contain herself, such as an exciting new person appearing from around a corner, don't ask for failure by giving her a cue she's too excited to respond to or let her be rewarded by being able greet them while she's out of control. Lead her calmly away until she's far enough away to settle down and respond to cues; then you can ask for a sit/wait/stay and reward her for responding. If the person wants to greet her, let them know she's in training and ask them not to unless she is calm.

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answered 2016-01-01 13:56:44 -0600

No touch, no talk, no eye contact until the puppy is calm. What she wants more than anything else in those moments of jumping and freaking out is attention. If she doesn't get the attention due to her behavior, she is forced to come up with something else. As soon as she calms down - and that might take a while - praise her, pet her, give her the full program. The keyword here is patience. Just ignore her for 10 minutes, half an hour or a full day. As long as she gets what she wants, she will never ever change her behavior because she has been so successful with jumping and making a fuss.

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2
answered 2016-01-03 12:30:06 -0600

Impulse control an duration work with high distraction.

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1
answered 2016-01-17 13:31:52 -0600

I have very similar problems with my female GSD mix and she is 4.5 years old now. I have still not been able to figure out a way to keep her from running up to people or after animals on off leash walks, but I have found something that works relatively well for guests coming to the house. When someone comes in the door, as soon as she starts jumping, I have them turn around and face their back to her. She will automatically stop jumping. Once she calms down for a few seconds, I then have the person turn around and greet her. If she starts to get over excited again, have them turn their back again. I continue to do this until she can stay calm. It usually only takes 1-2 tries. The only problem I run into with this is when she jumps up on a guest and I try and have them do the excersize, but they say "Oh, it's ok, I don't mind" and let her continue to jump on them and give her attention. Even after I tell them, they sometimes don't understand that I can't allow this because it regresses her training and progress.

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answered 2016-01-19 11:39:16 -0600

Just my opinion.basics are first .Meaning teaching them to sit until you say it's ok .Not that i am the dog whisper .I have found so much help in the basics training collar.i use Don Sullivan collar because it's made out of plastic .This collar will help you teach your buddy what you expect out of him/or her .when using the collar pull back and push down on rear end .Once you can get them to stay lets say for two minuets then walk a few steps away keep them sitting .make it longer and farther little by little . My best way to teach first steps are put a treat on your buddys nose in between their eyes get them not to move until you say it's ok ..this is how they will learn everything much faster .You do not need treats for the... (more)

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answered 2016-01-19 22:08:29 -0600

Two things have worked for me. First, when you come into a room and you pup tries to jump up or gets too excited turn around and face away from the dog. The dog is trying to get your attention and you are withdrawing attention. Keep doing this until the puppy calms down. Often the dog is a little confused and will sit down to try to figure out another approach. That is when you give the dog your attention. Stay calm and not gush over the dog. This brings the dogs over excitement down to a normal acceptable level. Repeat process if the dog's excitement and exuberance starts to escalates. When meeting a person or another dog in my home I keep the puppy on a short leash. I hold the leash short so the pup is forced to stay at my side. This helps to keep the dog calmer in the situation. I also use this technique on the street.

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