Step 1: Exercise
It's hard for your dog to be calm and content during the festivities if they haven't had a chance to expel their energy. Make the time to take your dogs out for a long structured walk before the chaos begins so your dogs can be calm when your guests arrive. Yes, this means small dogs too, and dogs who have "big backyards".
A structured walk is a walk done with you leading your dog, and not the other way around. This type of walk will meet their inherent need to migrate, which will stimilate their minds, and drain their energy.
Rules for A Structured Walk:
Step 2: Boundaries
Boundaries are something that should be practiced every day - consistently. When you have guests over, the boundaries need to remain the same. Decide with your family what is off limits, and stick to it, every time. For example, the kitchen or dining room can be off-limits. This will take you and your family members consistently using your body language as well as touch (much better than your voice) to move your dog back to where they should be (on their beds in the room where you want them to stay). The high energy of having company over can mean having to take your dog back more than once, that's ok! Stay calm, repeat as needed.
Step 3: Keeping your Guests in-check.
This one can be tricky - but, remember, your house - your rules. There is no need to create excitement in your dog, and we must ask our guests not to get them all riled up.
"OOOOOOH HI MAX! YOU LOVE YOUR AUNT MARGARET, OH YES YOU DO, OH YES YOU DO!"
What does your dog do after this? They get excited, perhaps jump up onto guests, bark, maybe even pee a little. Not all guests are aunt Margaret, and not all guests want to be jumped on or knocked over, particularly the little guests. If one guest reinforces this excitement, Max will think it's ok to do this to all guests.
Why do we feel the need to do this as humans? Well, we can be a little bit selfish sometimes. An excited dog is not a happy dog - a calm dog is a happy dog - and a calm dog creates a calm environment for everyone around them. Kindly ask your guests to ignore your dog, no talking to them or touching them.
Gasp! ignore adorable little MAX, what if he doesn't like me anymore?
FALSE, he will start to respect you and your space, and isn't Max's calm happiness more important than your ego?
If aunt Margaret creates this excitement everytime she comes over, chances are your dog will run over to her anyways - as she has become a source of excitement for Max. Ask her to please remain stoic, quietly use your body language (no words) to send Max back to his bed, and repeat as needed.
"BUT, when CAN I pet Max and make sure he still loves me?"
When all the guests have arrived, and Max has is calmly resting on his bed from that nice long walk, and calm atmosphere youv'e created, you can allow good ol aunt Margaret to go over and give him some pets. Best to not use any words, play it cool, and calmly go back to the festivities.
Michael Bylo - Canines Moving Forward
My client's dog Yeti acted out when they left him for the day. He was displaying signs of separation anxiety, which included loud whining and destruction.
After meeting with them, I discovered that this was the result of Yeti's needs not being met before his owners left for the day. After food and water, a dog's basic needs are exercise and discipline (discipline translates to rules, boundaries, and limits). With two young children at home, rainy weather and busy schedules it was hard for Yeti's owners to find the time to mentally and physically drain his energy. But in order to get the behaviour you want from your dog, you must meet their basic needs.
This video shows me teaching Yeti's owners how to drain his energy and provide him with mental stimulation (without leaving the house), while still being able to supervise their two young boys.
Yeti has a lot of energy, so his owners pair a morning run with the treadmill, or just the treadmill if they are short for time. Yeti no longer cries or destroys his surroundings, and seems quite content (instead of stressed) when they get home from work.
The treadmill can be very beneficial for dogs (and you don't need a fancy one either). I recommend seeking the help of a professional in order to ensure the introduction to the treadmill is a positive one.
Dogs MUST be supervised at all times on the treadmill.
I welcome any questions you may have!
Canines Moving Forward
People often think a misbehaved dog needs 'training'. Training teaches obedience such as 'sit' or 'stay'. While an experienced dog behaviour specialist, like Michael Bylo, deals with the dog's behaviour - creating boundaries and balance in an otherwise obedient (or even disobedient) dog. For example, you can have a dog who listens to all of your commands, but acts aggressively towards other dogs. Such behaviour cannot be corrected with training or positive re-enforcement (eg. treat training or "good boy").
This is where leadership comes into play. A dog behaviourist will look at the dog's routine, amount of exercise, boundaries, discipline etc. More importantly, they will look to see how you, as their leader, handle these situations. They will then teach you what you can do in your situation to correct and prevent the behaviour.
I'd like to share this article by Cesar Millan that touches on this and more:
Leading the pack
"One of the most important things dog lovers need to do is make sure they and their dogs are in tune with each other, with the humans being the pack leaders and the dogs following that lead. Notice I don’t say a dog should be well-trained. It’s very easy to train any dog to “sit” or “shake,” but this does not mean the dog is taking on the proper role in the pack. If a dog is not balanced, then it will go right back to misbehaving once it’s done whatever trick you’ve taught it. If you only focus on training without discipline, then you may wind up with your dog training you, using your reaction to its “cute” behaviour to get what it wants.
Setting the boundaries
I talk a lot about rules, boundaries, and limitations, which we need to create for our dogs to give them a sense of what they’re supposed to do. A pack leader’s job is to provide protection and direction. If you don’t give your dog direction, he or she can become anxious, frustrated, or fearful — and these are three of the biggest causes of common misbehaviours. You can help your dog achieve balance through my fulfillment formula of exercise, discipline, and then affection, in that order. All dogs need all of these things. It’s only the degree to which they need each one that varies with the dog.
Different dogs, different needs.
Dogs come in many different sizes and energy levels, so there is no “one-size-fits-all” rule on how much exercise a dog needs. Your dog needs as much as your dog needs. If you have a high energy Dalmatian, you may find it necessary for both of you to run several miles three times a day, but if you have an older, low energy mutt, then once around the block twice a day may do the trick.
The same goes for the affection part, in terms of feeding. Canine obesity is a serious health issue, so you don’t want to feed that inactive, overweight dog the same amount or type of food as you would a hyperactive greyhound. Consult your veterinarian to determine your dog’s ideal weight, then find the right exercise and nutrition program that will help him maintain that weight. How do you know when you’ve hit the right combination? Your dog will tell you with its balanced, calm-submissive energy— its way of saying “thanks!”for being a strong pack leader." - Cesar Millan
To book an appointment please familiarize yourself with my fees and approach and visit my contact page.
Sara Nielsen (Bylo)