Does your dog transform from a happy dog into an overly excited dog? You’re not alone.
Often this behaviour is confused with happiness, and us humans unknowingly encourage it. By curbing your excited dog’s crazy behaviour, you’ll prevent future misbehaviour and aggression.
Below we explain why your dog gets too excited, what an excited dog looks like and five easy tips to transform your excited dog back into one that is happy and calm.
Why Does My Dog Get Overly Excited?There are a few reasons why your dog turns into an overly excited dog.
BreedSome dog breeds are highly active and energetic. Some breeds that are known for being a bit too enthusiastic include Australian Shepherds, Dalmatians, Shetland Sheepdogs, Siberian Huskies, Border Collies and Belgian Malinois’.
Take the time to watch your dog and see if anything specific triggers them. Does your dog try to chase everything on a walk? Do they bark or whine when excited? Do they get frantic at the sight of other animals, or new humans entering the property?
Note the specific situations your dog gets overly excited and what stimulus triggers this reaction. There is a difference between a dog that is happy to see you and a dog that sees you and runs around and jumps and barks.
What Do Dogs Do When Excited?
An excited dog is outwardly exuberant and energetic. Excitement varies; it depends on your dog and its personality. Some dogs might have a big wide grin with their tongue hanging out. Others may be vocalising non-stop, panting or jumping.
Excited dogs may also chatter their teeth, become mouthy and shake their full body. They may also have dilated pupils and be excessively drooling. They may spin in circles, pace, or be unable to settle in one spot for any length of time.
An excited dog may freeze and become fixated on a stimulus (like a toy or another dog). In response to fixating on a trigger, the excited dog may have poor impulse control.
In general, an excited dog will have a high heart rate and blood pressure.
5 Tips to Calm Your Overly Excited Dog
1. Encourage the Right Behaviours
When your excited dog approaches you, your reaction will determine how consistently the over-excitement is displayed.
The worst way to respond to an excited dog is to give them affection and attention. Attention encourages their reaction, and they will associate excitement with a reward.
The best way to react to an excited dog is to ignore them, no touching, no eye contact and no talking. Turn the other way or push them back if your excited dog tries to jump on you.
Only give them affection, attention and treats when your dog is calm and submissive. By rewarding calm behaviour and ignoring excited behaviour, your dog will naturally move into that more relaxed state.
The easy way to take the energy out of your excited dog is to exercise them.
Having a consistent walking routine lets your dog drain out their energy in a healthy way. Letting them run around the backyard isn’t what we mean, that can leave your dog more excited afterwards.
Your dog’s primal instincts will kick in when going on a walk, as they stay focused on moving forward. They are walking with their pack, and the reward is the food, water and shelter of home.
3. Give Your Dog an Outlet
Another way to drain the excess energy out of your excited dog is to keep your dogs’ mind stimulated.
Play fetch, hide treats or go through an obstacle course. The aim of giving your excited dog an outlet like this is so you can control the length and intensity of the activity.
You set the limitations, and if the dog gets too excited, the game ends.
Stopping the game is a gentle way to encourage the correct behaviour; it tells your dog that if they are too energetic, the fun goes away.
4. Use Their Nose
The primary organ of a dog is their nose, so capturing their sense of smell will keep them focussed.
Lavender and vanilla are calming scents and are incredibly powerful when associated with times when the dog is calm. Place a scented air freshener near your dogs’ bed, and soon they will associate that smell with calm, relaxed times.
Make sure to check that your dog isn’t allergic to any particular scents, and ask your veterinarian for their recommendations on calming dog scents.
5. Calm Yourself
Your excited dog will never calm down if you are over-enthusiastic, take note of your energy.
How do you correct your dog? Can you stop unwanted behaviour with a quiet command, or do you have to yell?
If you shout at your dog, you’re contributing to their excitement.
A different way to think of staying calm is picturing a pack of dogs in the wild. If they saw an animal to prey on, they can’t bark as that will scare it away. Instead, they communicate with their energy and body language.
It’s your job to do the same. Communicate with your dog with your energy, encourage the right behaviours and discourage the wrong ones with your body language.
What Happens If You Never Train Your Excited DogIf you let your excited dog continue to show this high energy behaviour, it could lead to redirected aggression.
Redirected aggression is when a dog gets stimulated by a trigger (like a toy, human, or another animal), something interferes, then that energy redirects from the trigger to the closest animal or human.
Redirected aggression is why people get bitten when they try to interfere in a dog fight. Another everyday example is two dogs at home, barking at a trigger they see through the fence. Sometimes in the heat of the moment, one will turn and attack the other.
It’s worth noting that redirected aggression is found equally in both male and female dogs and amongst both puppies and adult dogs. If you’re interested in learning about other types of dog aggression, check out our blog about understanding dog aggression.
Can You Fix Redirected Aggression?
You will never completely “cure” your dog of redirected aggression. But you can reduce its consistency.
Reducing aggression is similar to the steps listed above. You reward good behaviour and discourage bad behaviour. When the aggressiveness is unacceptable and unsafe, limiting the dog’s exposure to triggering situations is the best solutions. You’ll then need to put in work to desensitise them from their triggers.