Of course it does. What dog doesn’t like going for a walk? I have two dogs and their excitement about going for a walk turns into jumping up and scratching at the door which I’d quite like to discourage before they completely ruin our back door!
Another relevant story in the Whole Dog Journal (WDJ) that I read recently lists five things to try if your dog gets over-excited before a walk.
Tips to reduce the excitability of 'Walkies' time
They firstly suggest that you spend 15-20 minutes exercising the dog first. This might include tossing a ball for the dog in the backyard or a tug-o-war game that will take the edge off her excitement, reduce her energy level and make leashing up a little less manic for both of you.
Secondly, and this is the part I like, teach the dog to ‘say please’. I try and do this and have succeeded in getting both dogs to sit (ie. ‘say please’) before I put their leash on and it really works in settling the behaviour down! The WDJ recommend that you reinforce your dog’s ‘sit’ behaviour so thoroughly that ‘sit’ becomes her default behaviour – the behaviour she chooses to offer when she doesn’t know what else to do. If the dog sits, then good things happen, ie. sit to be leashed up for a walk, sit for meals & treats, sit to be petted, sit to make the door open. That definitely works for me!
Thirdly, pick up the leash throughout the day. By picking it up, draping it around your neck, putting it down again, pick it up & put it down, perhaps even clip it on the dog’s collar and then unclip it, the leash will no longer be a reliable predictor of walks, and she won’t have any reason to get all excited about it. The WDJ warns that this little tip may take a while to work as “hope springs eternal in the canine heart”!
No. 4 on the list is to use negative punishment. Not a bonk on the head but setting up a situation so that doing the bad behaviour causes a good thing to go away. For eg, when you pick up the leash and the dog goes crazy, say ‘oops’ in a cheerful tone and put the leash down and walk away. When she calms down, pick the leash up again and if she ‘says please’, attach the leash and go for a walk. If she doesn’t, say ‘oops’ again and repeat the process. This teaches her that getting excited makes the opportunity for a walk to go away, staying calm makes walks happen.
Lastly on their tip list is to reduce the significance of other ‘walk cues’. That means the things you do that mean going for a walk, ie. getting the leash, putting on your jacket, getting your keys etc. The more you ‘randomise’ your ritual, the less these steps contribute to her growing excitement over what it all means! Walkies!
Hope these tips help in creating a calmer but still exciting part of the day for your four legged friends. I’m definitely going to give it a go, for the sake of my back door! LJ.